Less than two weeks before leaving the dock in Oyster Bay to head to Marblehead for the Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race, the Oakcliff Farr 47 was sitting in a cradle in Michigan after being on the dry for the past two years. Working at top speed under the lead of Sapling Hobie Ponting the boat was ready to sail just in time as we glued the final bunk in place, serviced all winches and reran the main halyard and mainsheet the morning of our departure. The Farr 47 met with Temptation, sponsored by Art Santry in Marblehead just in time to catch the fireworks. The Acorns aboard each boat were tired from the delivery, but ready to put in a few more hours of boat work over the following couple days before the start of the race. After provisioning, adding gear lines, and the most thorough clean the boat had seen in years the Farr 47 went for a quick shake down sail and prepared for the start the next day.
After a few long days in Marblehead the boat was ready on race day packed with 15 Acorns and Saplings. The boat had a great start around the buoys in light and shifty breeze for a spectator start along the shore. Sapling Dan Flanigan navigated a course to hang just south of rhumb line and in pressure as we headed away from the coast of Massachusetts pushing the 47 into the lead for the PHRF fleet and briefly ahead of Temptation (who had started 45 minutes prior) for the first night of the race. As night fell the fog began to roll in, a signature feature of the race, so that by 3AM we sat motionless in fog so dense the bow wasn’t visible from the stern while whales slowly breathed just feet away. The next day was spent in the fog and the crew added more and more layers in order to keep warm. Dan closely monitored the AIS (automatic identification system) in order to make sure we didn’t have any close encounters with other racing boats, but at one point the second day, Helm’s Deep a Soto 40 emerged from the fog astern of us with no warning as they had turned their AIS off. As the fog cleared the rocky Canadian coast came into view and the crew had their first chance to see some wildlife including five whales, a seal and a sunfish.
The last day of the race the whole crew continued to push the boat as fast as possible deciding to tack up the coast of Nova Scotia far enough south to avoid light air and shifty inshore breeze. By the final night, everyone was exhausted but that didn’t stop anyone from pushing to the finish line. The boat finished in 61 hours 45 minutes and 56 second which was enough to secure second in the PHRF 1. Overall the race and deliveries were fantastic learning experiences for the entire crew, covering just over a thousand miles from start to finish. For many it was their first offshore distance race and each crew member came back with a different lesson from preparing freeze dried food, to effectively playing the runners for the most speed and finding creative places to sleep with fifteen people onboard and only three bunks.