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SailGP shows Bermuda at its best

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Daring and courage: spectators look on as sailors impress with their skills at SailGP in the Great Sound off Morgan’s Point, Southampton (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Thousands of residents and visitors gathered at Morgan’s Point to marvel at the close-quarter racing of hydrofoil yachts in the Apex Group Bermuda Sail Grand Prix.

Not only was the location ideal for a celebration of Bermuda’s natural beauty and seafaring heritage, but it was also well-positioned to demonstrate how the island can put on a world-class show.

Bermuda has become one of the highlight locations of the SailGP tour after hosting the America’s Cup in 2017, attracting some of the best sailors in the world.

Organisers have selected the island as a race venue in three out of the last four years.

Basking in sunshine: spectators gather to watch the action at SailGP (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

On Saturday, it was easy to understand why. Basking in sunshine, spectators were treated to a display of daring and courage by teams of elite athletes who are celebrities in the sailing world.

Strong winds gave teams the opportunity to make bigger and bolder manoeuvres in the Great Sound, and it was never certain which would win any of the three races until they crossed the finish line.

Helen Haigh, a laboratory technologist and sailing fan, summed up the feelings of the crowd.

She said: “It’s great to be so close to the action. It’s also great because you see the perfect backdrop of Bermuda.

“I can’t believe they’re going so fast. I was here for the America’s Cup and that was a nice atmosphere but this is great, too. I’m loving it.”

For people unable to get a shoreline view, the action could be seen live on a huge video screen filmed from a helicopter hovering over the event.

As viewers in Bermuda were able to keep up, the images were also beamed around the world.

Dance music played during racing intervals, while master of ceremonies Patrina O’Connor-Paynter kept the crowds entertained with lively commentary.

Jerry Thomas, a visitor from Boston, enjoyed the day.

He said: “When we booked this trip we didn’t know anything about SailGP or that it was on, so this is a bonus – and what a bonus. We’re having a blast. I guess we struck lucky.”

Logistics for the two-day event were planned months in advance.

Racegoers were advised to head to the White Hill field a mile from the stadium, where they would then be ferried by a fleet of minibuses to the venue.

Minibus driver Ronue Cann was busy on Saturday.

He said: “Everybody who’s been on my bus is really hyped up – they’re looking forward to the event. It’s beautiful weather and a beautiful place.

“I think in terms of watching the race, it’s a better location that Dockyard was. But maybe they could pave the roads next time – and they need to cut the hedges back.

“The bus system is working well but we’re going to be busy all day and into the night. Remember we’ve got the entertainment party tonight after the racing is done.”

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Published May 06, 2024 at 7:51 am (Updated May 07, 2024 at 1:54 pm)

SailGP shows Bermuda at its best

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