It's nice on a cold, gray day to daydream about fragrant and RTC colorful hedges of blooming hibiscus, the tangy smell of a crystal-blue ocean washing in on pink coral beaches, pastel-colored houses with white roofs gleaming under the sun -- Bermuda in June.
And it's not too early to start planning for a trip to Bermuda -- in conjunction with one of two exciting offshore races.
A recent notice from the Bermuda Ocean Race Committee pinned down the starting date for the 1994 Annapolis-to-St. George's Bermuda Ocean Race as June 10, and announced that applications are being accepted.
For purposes of safety and logistics, only 50 entries can be accepted for this ninth-biennial 753-mile race, widely known as an event for cruising yachts more than high-tech racing machines.
Eastport Yacht Club is the host on this end for shoreside $H festivities. St. George's Dinghy & Sports Club handles post-race events in Bermuda.
The Bermuda Ocean Race is like two races in one, because the first leg is a race down about 140 miles of the Chesapeake Bay before the fleet rounds Chesapeake Light and heads across the open ocean.
Because of its strong cruising orientation, the BOR encourages less-experienced racers to take part along with the veterans, offering some great new adventures for those who have dreamed of sailing off to an island paradise.
Although it is a racing event, and most sailors get out there to do their best to maintain boat speed and pick the most favorable course, there's also a cruising-in-company quality to it, particularly at the raft-up in St. George's at the end.
The BOR Committee asks all who are interested in taking part to write Bermuda Ocean Race Committee, c/o Eastport Yacht Club, P.O. Box 3205, Annapolis, Md. 21403, or call Jean Metzger, (410) 267-9295 to leave a message with the exact name and address to which an application should be mailed.
Other interested sailors with questions unrelated to the application process can contact committee chairman Tarry Lomax at (202) 466-7320.
Because entries normally are filled by early March, it's wise to start planning now to enter.
It's also wise to start planning for plane tickets and hotel rooms, because the tiny archipelago of Bermuda fills up fast, particularly for the granddaddy of Bermuda races, the Newport-to-Bermuda event, which will begin a week after the BOR.
Managed by the Cruising Club of America and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, the Newport Bermuda Race will offer its 39th start on June 17.
This race is an international yachting classic, first sailed in 1906, and has a long history of attracting the best sailors in the world, including the Chesapeake's own. The St. David's Light Trophy, for best overall, has come home to Annapolis several times, in company with Arnie Gay and then-Midshipman Kyle Weaver, among others.
As in recent years, the Newport Bermuda Race will be sailed under the IMS rule.
This time, it will have some new features, not least of which is the starting line, which has been moved inshore to a position between Castle Hill and Beavertail lighthouses at the entrance to Narragansett Bay.
Race organizers promise better spectator appeal at the new site, which replaces the old line set since 1936 at Brenton Reef Lightship and then its replacement Brenton Tower, demolished last year and replaced with a far-less-scenic buoy.
The finish line will stay the same, however, some 635 miles away, off of St. David's Light in Bermuda.
Also new this year, skippers can choose to compete in a nonspinnaker cruising division, where Kevlar and Spectra sails will be allowed for the first time.
Both the New York Yacht Club and RBYC will celebrate their 150th anniversaries in 1994, and to commemorate this, the Onion Patch Series will sandwich the Bermuda Race in the middle, between NYYC's Annual Regatta and RBYC's Anniversary Regatta.
The Onion Patch will be a five-race series sailed by teams of three yachts and consisting of the Bermuda Race and the two regattas on either side. A yacht may sail in any or all five of the races.
For further information about the Newport-Bermuda Race or the Onion Patch, or to request an entry form, contact Dan Dyer, Newport-Bermuda Race Chairman, 84 Main St., Wickford, R.I. 02852, phone (401) 295-0094, fax (401) 295-0941.