Sailing coach to challenge Mother Nature in ‘round-the-Island Optimist sail

  • Photo by Mark Tatem
Royal Bermuda Yacht Club sailing director Tom Herbert Evans is to sail an Optimist Class sailboat around the Island this week to raise funds for youth sailors to compete in international regattas.

    Photo by Mark Tatem Royal Bermuda Yacht Club sailing director Tom Herbert Evans is to sail an Optimist Class sailboat around the Island this week to raise funds for youth sailors to compete in international regattas.

Sailing fanatic Tom Herbert-Evans has performed many crazy stunts in the past.

But his next one perhaps tops them all.

The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (RBYC) Sailing Academy Director plans to go where no local sailor has gone before — around the Island in an Optimist dinghy.

His cause?

To raise money to enable the Island’s Optimist sailors to gain valuable exposure abroad.

“In order for our young sailors to be really good we have to provide them with big fleet exposure and the only way they are going to do that is by going overseas and to do it often is very expensive and nobody can afford it,” Evans said.

“So the idea is to help our Bermuda sailors to go overseas and experience that and if we want to develop a new programme and the equipment is the issue it kind of comes under the same umbrella.”

Evans’ circumnavigation will start and end, that is if all goes according to script, at Hogfish Beacon off Spanish Point Boat Club.

“The reason for that is because every other attempt (around the Island) has been done from there,” the 25-year old Welshman added. “We’re hoping for a northwesterly so I will go towards Dockyard and counter clockwise (around the Island) which would be a nice run.

“A northwesterly is nice because you’re protected by the reefs and the waves don’t build up that much.

“But the little beat off St George’s could get a bit tough because of the waves off there.”

Wind speed and currents will ultimately dictate how long it takes Evans to sail around the Island in a training boat designed for youngsters.

“We just have to find a weather window this week to get through and around,” he said. “It’s all about the window action because if we get it wrong it could take a long time.

“If I’m going to be beating going to windward down south shore then it could be a long journey.

“We’ve been doing an estimation on how long it will take and the quickest is three hours while the longest could be 20-24 hours which is a long time time in the boat.

“And when you are in a boat that can only do about four knots then tide makes a big difference. If there’s two knots of current running then I’m only doing half my speed so that’s why it could take long.”

Evans could set sail as early as tomorrow but no later than Sunday because of an approaching weather front.

“There could be a small window on Thursday but it’s only for about eight hours so I really have to pick my gap,” the experienced ocean sailor said. “Wednesday is looking southerly so if it’s light I can roll the dice somewhere.”

The certified sailing coach will take along provisions of food and water and will remain in constant contact with (Rescue Co-ordination Centre Bermuda) Harbor Radio during his circumnavigation.

“Hopefully some people will come up and say ‘hello’ which would be inspiring really,” he said.

So where did the bold idea of sailing around the Island in a single-handed, eight-foot dinghy boasting 35 square feet of sail come from?

“I heard that someone had done it here in Bermuda in a Laser and of course in some of the yachts. But it’s never been done in the Optimist so I thought that would be a helluva a challenge for a good cause,” Evans explained.

Evans’ students have received numerous pledges from RBYC members and the general public that will go towards the worthy cause.

“The kids have been actively fundraising and I’ve donated myself to inspire them to go out there and work hard,” he said. “They have all been working hard and will benefit from it and that’s the important bit. The club members have been really supportive maybe next year I will have to go around twice!”

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Published Mar 12, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated Mar 11, 2013 at 11:15 pm)

Sailing coach to challenge Mother Nature in ‘round-the-Island Optimist sail

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