Marblehead-Halifax Ocean Race - Rambler first across finish line

David Peterson, left, and Kyle Lyman are shown aboard Rambler, the first boat to cross the finish line in the Marblehead-Halifax Ocean Race at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron in Halifax on Tuesday.
CHRISTIAN LAFORCE / Staff
Marblehead-Halifax Ocean Race - Rambler, skippered by George David, has crossed the finish line. While the 30-metre yacht out of Hartford won line honours, when it reached Halifax Harbour just after nine a.m., the race is handicapped on such things as size of the boats, so the overall winner has yet to be determined. Most entries are still off the southern tip of the province, while the Donnybrook is 14 nautical miles from the finish and the privateer is 39 out.

Early speculation was this year’s Marblehead-to-Halifax Ocean Race might produce a record crossing, but those rumours were put to rest Monday afternoon when the winds almost totally died down.

Initially, the first boat was on track to cross the finish line at about eight p.m. Monday. But the calming winds pushed that back first until midnight and then to this morning. Race officials expected the first boat Rambler to reach the finish line at about 10 a.m. after the winds had dropped to six knots in the early morning.

But some kind of blip with the tracking system race officials aren’t sure what happened saw the distance to the finish drop from 10 nautical miles to two in less than half an hour.

Seventy-five entries 17 of them from Nova Scotia had set sail early Sunday afternoon in the 35th edition of the race, organized every two years by the Boston Yacht Club and the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron.

The course, from Marblehead, near Boston, to the mouth of Halifax Harbour, covers about 360 nautical miles (670 kilometres).

Jim Grundy of Oxford, Md., in his boat Bella Pitla, set the existing record with an elapsed time of 30:36:52 in 2011, surpassing the old mark established by Starlight Express of 33:29.57 in 1989 when it rode the edge of a storm.

Valkyrie, the 79-foot Swan owned by Will Apold of Halifax, also eclipsed the old record that year and set a standard for fastest race by a Canadian-owned boat.

His corrected time of 45:22:11 based on a handicapping formula that considers hull design, sail area and other factors topped the international racing class, making him the first skipper of a Nova Scotia-owned boat ever to do that.

The race is essentially made up of two legs: roughly 445 kilometres across the Atlantic Ocean to Cape Sable Island, then 225 kilometres up the southwestern coast of Nova Scotia.