New cruising rally to the Bahamas announced

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The Cruising Rally Association announced Monday that it is expanding its year-round calendar of offshore sailing rallies and seminars to include the Bahamas Cruising Rally. The BRC, opened to power- and sailboaters, will leave Hampton, Va., Nov. 2 and cruise directly to Marsh Harbor in the Bahamas.

Ralliers who join the inaugural BRC event will enjoy all of the pre-event social events, briefings, and inspections of the 20th annual Caribbean 1500, which leaves Hampton for Tortola in the British Virgin Islands the same day. For first-time Bahamas cruisers, there will also be lectures about exploring the islands. The BRC fleet will include divisions for both racers and cruisers.

"In five or six days, ralliers can round Hatteras and be in the Abacos, ready for a winter of cruising," says founder and president Steve Black. "No more worries about bridge openings, challenging inlets and shallow water in the Intracoastal Waterway. BRC ralliers will have a great time mixing with the cruisers heading for the Caribbean in Hampton. Offshore, they will receive weather updates, call in on daily chat hours, and carry satellite transponders to track their progress, just like the Caribbean 1500 participants."

Black went on to say that the Bermuda Cruising Rally will make landfall at the Abaco Beach Resort & Boat Harbour, a 190-slip marina in Marsh Harbor, the capital of the Abacos. Transportation to and from the States is easy with many commercial flights and carriers, Black explained.

Andy Schell, the "son" of "Father and Son Sailing," will be the group leader for the Bahamas Cruising Rally. With his Coast Guard Master Mariner license and MCA/RYA Yachtmaster Oceans license, Schell has been a professional skipper in Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. most of his adult life.

More than 10,000 Web site visitors each day will monitor the progress of the boats in the two rallies. With wireless transponders on each yacht, positions will be broadcast via satellite six times each day. Each boat's track will be displayed on the Cruising Rally Association Web site using software customized to incorporate features from Google Earth.