Countdown to Sail Grand Prix does not go like clockwork
Officials tried to start the countdown clock marking 100 days until the return of Sail Grand Prix yesterday and … nothing happened.
Charles Jeffers II, the CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, was there for the unveiling of the symbolic countdown clock at the Bermuda Visitor Services Centre and the introduction of the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix Steering Committee.
The BTA was joined by representatives from title sponsor Hamilton Princess & Beach Club and SailGP to mark the lead-up to the opening event of the global league’s third season, set for May 14-15.
It was the official duty for Mark Clarke, as the deputy chairman of the new steering committee to start the clock.
But he later conceded: “I couldn’t get it to work. The clock was on, but I couldn’t get the remote to work. ”
He tried to take the blame, telling The Royal Gazette with a laugh last night: “It was probably user error. So that’s one of the first things we have to get sorted. I’ll be making some calls right away.
“We have a lot of things we want to get done, so we want to meet as soon as next week.”
Early-bird tickets offering a 15 per cent discount to see the fast-paced, high-flying F50s on the Great Sound – driven by the sports best athletes – go on-sale at SailGP.com/Bermuda today.
The new steering committee chairman Paul Scope said that the Government and the Bermuda Tourism Authority wanted to take advantage of the work from last year’s committee and the experience of the America’s Cup to garner greater public involvement in an event that can generate substantial economic benefit.
“The Bermuda Sail Grand Prix steering committee has been assembled to champion economic and social engagement opportunities across our community, including local stakeholders, non-profits, community boating, social clubs and entrepreneurs,” said Mr Jeffers.
“We intend to use the event to pursue broad community participation and celebrate Bermuda’s rich sailing heritage.”
The new steering committee is trying to avoid a repeat of the confusion during the America’s Cup when some Bermudians were persuaded not to support the event.
It includes a cross-section of input from sailors, business people and government.
Clarke, a former policeman counts himself as a sailor.
Alan Burland was an Olympic sailor for Bermuda, but also a well-known businessman.
Erica Smith, the executive director of the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation, has long been a powerful authority in government, helping Bermudians develop new businesses.
Also on the committee are well known Bermudians Raymond Lambert (BEDC, Comet sailor) and Lyndon Raynor (Ministry of National Security).
Like Paul Scope, Susan Pateras is from the world of international insurance and is also deputy chair for the Bermuda Business Development Agency.
The steering committee will support youth sailing activities that inspire Bermuda’s young people and celebrate Bermuda’s maritime history.
The members are expected to connect the event with local stakeholders, including Bermuda’s local boating and social clubs and tourism entrepreneurs.
Clarke was asked about the expressed concern during the America’s Cup, that sailing was a “White sport”.
He answered: “It’s clear that Black Bermudians have had a long history sailing, otherwise you wouldn’t have had the sailing clubs. I’ve done a little research and found five Black sailing clubs from over the years.
"This was looking back to the early part of the 20th century. I think that many have forgotten about our history because of our focus on football and cricket. But there were some things that I was surprised to find.
“There is no doubt that sailing is part of the history of all Bermuda.”
In SailGP’s third season, it has expanded to include ten teams – with new additions Canada and Switzerland joining the ranks.
Following the Bermuda start, the league will stop at iconic cities including Chicago, Copenhagen, Saint-Tropez and Dubai. It will span 2022-23 and is expected to include ten events.