Whisper makes loud impact in tough ocean race
Whisper, a 48-foot boat based in Vineyard Haven, earned three trophies in the recently completed Marion to Bermuda ocean race. Weather conditions were so severe over the 700-mile course, that 17 of the 44 racing boats had to drop out, and many others finished with blown out sails and damaged equipment.
"I had my foul weather gear on for five days," said crew member Maggie McGillivray. "I had my sunglasses on once."
Owned by Dr. Sheldon Brotman, Whisper took second place in Class A, the main division for the largest boats, racing under the Ocean Racing Rule (ORR). She also won first place in another division, IRC, and was awarded the prize for the best performance by a New England yacht.
Dr. Brotman, a respected trauma surgeon at the Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, owns a home with his wife Marilyn, in Oak Bluffs. They spend most of their spare time throughout the year on the Island.
This year marked Dr. Brotman's 22nd year racing in the Marion to Bermuda Race, or its sister race, the Newport to Bermuda Race. The two legendary ocean racing events take place in alternating years.
He remembers his first race, when few boats had the kind of electronic navigation gear common today.
"The first time to Bermuda, you had to go by sextant, through the Gulf Stream," Dr. Brotman said. "The first race was a little scary."
Now, preparing the boat, testing gear, and training the crew is a year-round affair for Dr. Brotman. Beginning in the winter, the crew works nearly every weekend. Every piece of gear is inspected and replaced or repaired.