‘Shindig’ finds Joy and Sorrow

Shindig took line honors in the 2013 Marion Bermuda race finishing the 645 nm course off St David’s Lighthouse at 4:55:13 ADT/3:55:13 EDT on Tuesday morning June 18. They were certainly glad to finish first, but sorry not to break the record after such a fast start.

“It was brutal,” quipped one of the Shindig crew when asked about the last miles to the finish. They had trouble getting the right angle to be able to cross the line going into both the southerly wind and the northbound current.

Lady B, John Madden’s Swan 62, finished 2nd at 06:59:56 ADT.

As Shindig was docking in the Royal Hamilton amateur Dinghy Club marina, we caught up with Watch Captain Mark Riley. He gave a great recap of their race.

“The start was as predicted, extremely windy [26+ knots]. We got off to a great start, real fast speeds up to 23 knots coming out of Buzzard’s Bay. We had a couple of wind shifts outside of the bay and we weren’t sure where we were going to go. As the steady breeze filled in, we made quick tracks to the [Gulf] Stream. Real fast again, hitting 20’s.”

“We covered about 500 miles in the first 45 hours and then the bottom fell out— We had no wind for 2 days. We struggled for the next 36 to 48 hours trying to cover the next 120 miles. It felt like every time we tacked or thought about tacking we were further and further away from Bermuda. It was a long drift in for the last 120 mile.”

Mark said, “We knew that the faster we could get South the better we would do.” And they got South fast.

Mark’s 12 year-old son Jo was also on the 15-person crew and the youngest sailor in the race. When asked how it was sailing with his son in Jo’s first offshore race, Mark was clearly emotional. “It was fantastic,” he beamed. “We had some highs and lows along the way, but not too many dads can be as proud as I am of him to be out there on fathers day in such a great event on such a great boat. Sailing with all the cadets from Mass Maritime was fantastic.”

Sonia Riley, Mark’s wife, was at the dock to greet her husband and son both with kisses. She said of her son’s adventure, “Jo had no idea of what he was getting into.”

Jo said he stood his watches including two at night. At one point during the last 120 miles his dad said he saw a tear in his son’s eye and asked what was wrong. Jo said, “can I just put it in gear?” The next day brushing away another tear Jo said, “It’s so long.” Go Jo… you made it.

Mark said, “Arthur Burke [who had donated the boat to Mass Maritime] spoke some real truth in his pre-race comments to the crew, ‘You will have moments of sadness, You will have moments of Joy… all of you will hit the wall’ and we did. A couple of us were seasick before the start and some during the race, but they all worked through their problems.”

The crew, some were Art’s regulars but most were Mass Maritime cadets, deserve high praise for persisting through the Happy Valley North of Bermuda and coming first overall across the St David’s Lighthouse line.

by Talbot Wilson

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