Kempe brings end to Bermuda drought
Sebastian Kempe exceeded his expectations after securing Bermuda their first fleet racing podium in 11 years at the Optimist North American Championships in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico, at the weekend.
The promising sailor finished second in the gold fleet with eight top-ten finishes and a best showing of second, which arrived in the opening qualifying race.
Kempe is the first local sailor to earn a spot on the podium in fleet racing at the regatta since James Anfossi finished second in 2007, competing at the same venue which hosted this year’s event.
“Incredible, second place is great,” Kempe said. “I knew I could place well within the top ten since I came in eleventh in at South Americans in Paraguay a few months ago. But I never thought I would come top three.”
The 13-year-old Saltus Grammar School student was a model of consistency throughout the regatta, despite having to compete in challenging conditions.
“The conditions were challenging, two-to-three foot chop with light air most days making it difficult,” he said.
Kempe attributes his successful campaign to a surge in confidence in the build up to the regatta.
“All the training I have done with my Bermuda team-mates and our coach [Pablo Weber] during practice days made me realise how fast I was and that gave me confidence ahead of the regatta,” Kempe said.
Kempe was among ten local sailors flying the island’s flag in Mexico. Also competing in the 75-strong gold fleet was Magnus Ringstead, who finished an impressive eighth, with Christian Ebbin further back in 21st, Aiden Lopes 45th, Laura Hupman 59th and Rachael Betschart 72nd.
Ahzai Smith led Bermuda’s charge in the 74-strong silver fleet with a fourth-place finish. Also competing in the silver fleet were Millie Lewis, who finished twelfth, Ava Adams in 20th and Ethan Edmunds in 29th.
Bermuda also entered two teams in the North American Team Racing Championships.
Team Bermuda 1, comprised of Kempe, Ringstead, Ebbin, Hupman and Smith, bowed of the sudden death elimination competition after losing to Cayman Islands in the first flight.
Meanwhile Team Bermuda 2, consisting of Betschart, Lopes, Lewis, Adams and Edmunds, coped a bit better as they beat Puerto Rico in the first flight to reach the quarter-finals flight where they lost to the United States 3.
A total of 149 sailors from 14 countries competed in the Optimist North American Championships. Stephan Baker, of the US, and Diego Riofrio, of Peru, were the top sailors in the gold and silver fleets.
The US won the North American Team Racing Championships, with Uruguay prevailing in the Nations Cup, which involved teams from outside of North America.