The Essex based ketch Bluebird, skippered by Essex resident Harry Bird of the Essex Corinthian Yacht Club, placed third in its class in the bi-annual Marblehead to Halifax race on July 11th.
The Marblehead to Halifax race is one of the world’s great open ocean races, 363 miles in length and jointly sponsored by the Boston Yacht Club and the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron. This year’s race was the 35th rendition with the first race run in 1905.
Bluebird, a Migrant 45 built in England in 1983, has completed four Newport to Bermuda races and two Halifax races under Harry, competing in the cruising (non spinnaker) class. In previous races, in the 2011 Halifax race, Harry placed second in the cruising class. In the 2010 Bermuda Race, Bluebird was second in its class and third overall in the cruising division (out of 38 boats).
His crew for this year’s Halifax race consisted of Commodore Terry Stewart and Past Commodore Jim Francis of the Essex Corinthian Yacht Club, Ed Remillard of the Essex Yacht Club, and Carl Ordeman and Will Ingraham of the Larchmont Yacht Club.
Seventy five boats started the race in nine classes. Boats ranged from the 12 Meter yacht Valiant, to the maxi boat Rambler (who crossed the finish first), to the beautiful Herreshoff designed schooner, Ticonderoga.
This year’s race featured very light winds with fog for most of the race. As a result, what took Bluebird two days to finish in the 2011 race took just over four days this time.
By dodging adverse currents flooding into the Bay of Fundy, Bluebird was able to cross the Gulf of Maine in route to the southern tip of Nova Scotia, avoiding several pods of whales and a few sharks in the process.
Bluebird’s final challenge was entering the port of Halifax in a heavy fog while avoiding an unseen incoming super tanker and three outgoing Japanese warships.
Upon reaching the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron dock, Harry and crew were very happy to hear Bluebird placed third in its class. Shortly thereafter, the Commodore of the Yacht Squadron awarded Harry the third place trophy in a traditional ceremony celebrating seamanship, safety, persistence, and accomplishment.