The biennial Marblehead (Massachusetts, USA) to Halifax (Nova Scotia, Canada) is believed to be the oldest offshore yacht race in the world, with its inaugural event first taking place in 1905. After a hiatus due to Covid, the race was back in force this year with a good fleet of 69 boats.
Berthon USA Yacht Salesman Alan Baines was super lucky to be invited aboard Peter Lacoste’s Moody 54 DS, SOUTHERN CROSS as part of her small crew for this year’s Marblehead Halifax Race. Delivered new by Berthon USA exactly a year ago, SOUTHERN CROSS was entered in the Cruising Spinnaker Class.
This race is generally expected to be a downwind race – probably in fog. They got the fog bit right, but this year was dead upwind all the way to the Southwest corner of Nova Scotia, which is about 200 miles from the start. Modern electronic aids make racing in fog far less terrifying than it used to be. SOUTHERN CROSS is of course equipped with AIS and Radar, and also an anti-collision electronics system called SEA AI.
Passing Brazil Rock takes the race out of the Gulf of Maine, along the Southern Nova Scotia coast and thus out of the clutches of the strong tidal currents going in or out of the Bay of Fundy (with its 54 foot tides). At this stage, the wind finally started to clock around for SOUTHERN CROSS and the sheets were freed for the first time. The gennaker was set, she sailed a little bit further offshore than most other competitors and it paid off – SOUTHERN CROSS scooted past many yachts that were gybing inshore.
As the sun came up on Wednesday, the fog finally lifted and luckily the day brought slightly more wind than forecast. After a couple of near stationery hours, SOUTHERN CROSS broad reached towards Halifax Harbor at 5-7kts, rounded the HB1 bouy and then raced the final 5-mile fetch to the finish line. Her crew collectively held their breath, as the wind strength lessened with each passing minute. There was a real possibility that SOUTHERN CROSS would get a few hundred yards from the finish and just…stop.
So it was an immense relief for captain and crew as she crossed the line at 9:30pm, in the dying embers of twilight. Pretty much every yacht behind her ‘parked’ all night long, just outside the harbor.
Can you race a yacht that looks like she is part sailboat, part motorboat and part catamaran? Well – yes, you can!
The Moody 54 DS is actually the same Judel/Vrolijk designed hull as a Hanse 575/588, with the original development of both Moody and Hanse versions done at the same time.
Moody 54 DS, SOUTHERN CROSS has a beautiful set of Quantum sails, with vertical battens on its electric in mast furling main, a self tacking jib, and a second headstay with a furling genoa on it. This arrangement means you are going up wind with the self tacker come what may and it doesn’t pay to roll up any of that sail, as the sheeting angle would then be completely wrong. If you get any stiff winds, just roll up a lot of the main instead. Keep the boat somewhat upright and she goes like a locomotive.
The extra high bulwark, grab handles on the saloon roof and the fixed railing give a secure passage along the side deck, even if the weather gets rough. SOUTHERN CROSS was raced shorthanded with a small crew of four but with only 2 winches to worry about, a large crew was not required.
The other great feature of the Moody Deck Saloon yachts is the well protected cockpit. SOUTHERN CROSS has roll up mesh enclosures on the sides, which means you can sit in there, in warm, dry, safe conditions and still be on hand should the helmsperson need help or with trimming.
The crew woke up for prize giving day to bright Canadian sunshine at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron. A quick chat with the club’s Vice Commodore and Alan finds out he is a Moody owner himself, albeit an older model, which was sold to him by Berthon USA back in 2008.
Another top statistic discovered by Alan – 7% of the race fleet were Berthon clients!
But the best news that day for captain and crew was that Moody 54 DS, SOUTHERN CROSS won the Cruising Spinnaker Class and on corrected handicap were 3rd out of the 21 boat PHRF fleet.
Berthon USA have been Moody Yacht dealers since 2011. You can visit are Moody Yachts page here:
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