Youngsters get chance to shine on Sounds
Racing in the America's Cup 50ft catamarans is not all that is happening in Bermuda from May 26 through to June 27. Racing will also take place in O'Pen Bic, RS Feva and Hobie Wave America's Cup Endeavour Junior Regattas, in AC45F catamarans for the Red Bull Youth America's Cup and in superyachts and elegant J Class yachts, too.
Junior America's Cup half-time racers will be the centrepiece in the two-person RS Feva and Hobie Wave catamarans and the O'Pen Bic, a nine-foot dinghy sailed by a single youngster. All the skippers and crew are under 15 years of age.
Courses will be set in the Great Sound as America's Cup half-time shows and also in the Little Sound for fleet racing. The boats are the three classes being used in the America's Cup Endeavour sailing programme in Bermuda, the America's Cup event legacy.
The results of the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club's O'Pen Bic Bermuda National Championship selected Bermuda sailors for that class. Three girls and three boys qualified for the Bermuda slots — Gabrielle Brackstone, Aiden Lopes, Sebastian Kempe, Genevieve Lau, Christopher Raymond and Jessie DeBraga.
Lau, in Year 9 at Bermuda High School, said: “The America's Cup regatta is not my first international competition. I just come back from opti racing in Lake Garda and the South American Optimist Championship in Paraguay, but I know this will be the most memorable one.
“I am a little nervous but it will be lots of fun and exciting to be able to sail in front of the big crowd at the AC village.
“The Un-Regatta for the Bermuda championship was one of the most fun regattas I have ever been to. I liked trying new tricks such as ducking under the ‘Bridge of Doom' and not sticking by the usual race rules.
“I think the Endeavour programme and other junior sailing programmes have brought many more sailors and competitions to Bermuda, I am always seeing more new faces at sailing. I hope to meet new international friends through sailing and to let sailing take me to see the world as well as to have wonderful memories of my time in sailing.”
Jessie DeBraga, who attends Warwick Academy in Year 7, added: “I have been sailing for four years. I started sailing Optimist sailboats then. Last year I started sailing O'Pen Bics.
“I feel proud of myself that I finished all of the races. The winds were very high which for me made it more enjoyable. It was my first time going through the ‘Bridge of Doom'. I feel that I mastered it in. It was a fun Un-Regatta.
“I sailed in the Opti Nationals back in November of last year and know the America's Cup regatta is going to be an exhilarating experience. I can't wait! This was my goal, to sail in the Americas Cup! I also would like to sail on a tall ship and travel the world one day, like my older sister.
“The Endeavour programme has given children a chance to learn how to sail. Not all children can afford to join these expensive sailing programmes. I hope that after the America's Cup that someone will continue where they leave off.”
The other 26 O'Pen Bic competitors come from Japan, France, New Zealand, Sweden, Australia, United Kingdom, Italy, and Germany each with one boy and one girl. North America will send nine youngsters including a minimum of two girls.
The O'Pen Bic regatta will be the half-time show between the first and second races of the America's Cup Finals June 17, as well as other O'Pen Bic Un-Regatta events being held on June 15 and 16.
Fun is the main aim of Un-Regattas. They feature zigzag slalom legs and a passage under the “Bridge of Doom”. The AC half-time races will be sailed on a miniature America's Cup course close to the village grandstand.
The Endeavour RS Feva Regatta will be featured on June 18. They will also race on June 15 and 16. The RS Feva is a 12ft double-handed sailing dinghy. Bermudian juniors who have earned slots in the regatta are Helm Zaki Wolffe and Crew Teji Simmons, Helm Millie Lewis and Crew Laura Humpman, Helm Joanna Santiago and Crew Ruth Mello-Cann.
International girls two-person teams will be representing the Netherlands, United States, and Great Britain. International boys teams will represent Guatemala, Italy, Norway, Switzerland, Britain, and Canada. Mixed teams will represent Australia, Sweden, Britain, and New Zealand.
The third Endeavour Junior Regatta will be held in the 13ft two-person Hobie Wave catamaran. They sail their half-time show race on June 24 and fleet race in the Little Sound on June 22 and 23.
Each Hobie Wave will be crewed by two boys or girls, or a mixed pair. The goal is to have an equal mix of males and females. Countries represented are Australia, Britain, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Turks & Caicos Islands, the US and Bermuda.
Sailing for Bermuda are two crews — Ocean Archeval with Nasya Russell and Katie Stevenson with Taylor White.
“The Waves are just like the America's Cup boats but smaller, so you can get to experience how the America's Cup catamarans feel,” Rose, a Bermuda High School student said. “It takes a crew to go fast so you can build team work.”
In addition to junior regattas, the Red Bull Youth America's Cup takes place from June 12.
They have been divided into two pools of six boats. The top four teams in each pool will move into the eight-boat finals.
Pool B, which has elimination races June 12 and 13, features Team BDA (Bermuda), NZL Sailing Team (New Zealand), Land Rover BAR Academy (Great Britain), Spanish Impulse Team (Spain), Next Generation USA (US), and Candidate Sailing Team (Austria).
Pool A, which has elimination races on June 15 and 16, has Artemis Youth Racing (Sweden), Team France Jeune (France), Kaijin Team Japan (Japan), Youth Vikings Denmark (Denmark), Team Tilt (Switzerland), and SVB Team Germany (Germany).
As total opposites to the junior and youth regattas, spectacular big-boat racing in yachts manned by ball-team sized crews will compete in huge Superyachts measuring 80 to 288 feet June 13-15 and on June 16, 19 and 20 in majestic J Class sloops stretching 90 feet on the waterline and about 130 feet overall.