Ahzai sets sail for a golden future
It has been an incredible four weeks for Ahzai Smith.
At the end of last month the 12-year-old was the top Bermudian sailor in the RenaissanceRe Junior Gold Cup, and seventh out of an international field of 41 competitors.
Two weeks later he was the best Bermudian competitor again in the 2016 Bermuda National Optimist Championships 2016, that attracted more than 70 young sailors from around the world.
But the sailing maestro has no plans to rest on his laurels; he sees his sailing future in the America's Cup, and hopes one day to skipper a Bermuda team in the world's most famous sailing spectacle.
“To be the top Bermudian in the Junior Gold Cup was a great experience, I was quite surprised but the wind conditions were good for me,” he said. “In the Bermuda Opti Championships it was a mixture of skill and luck with the conditions.
“The thing I love most about sailing is meeting different people from around the world.
“My real goal is just to be the best I can be. In the future I would like to race in the America's Cup, and maybe even one day skipper a Bermuda team in the race.”
Ahzai, who lives in Sandys, first started sailing at the age of just 9 through the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club's spring sailing programme. The Warwick Academy pupil, who is also a keen cyclist, took to sailing like a natural and has developed his skills at a rate of knots over the last two-and-a-half years.
“It was Tom Herbert-Evans who first introduced me to sailing,” Ahzai said. “That first time I went out on the water was fun, but also scary.
“It just developed from there, mostly through the Yacht Club's sailing programme.
“My father is a ferry pilot, but I am the only one in my family who has raced like this before.
“A lot of the success I have had so far is because I have managed to stay fit. I do a lot of cycling and rowing, and I also do press ups and sit ups three times a week. That has really helped.”
Ahzai can enjoy a well-earned rest now that the racing season is over in Bermuda.
But he will be heading to foreign climes in the New Year to take part in sailing competitions in Italy in April and Paraguay in May.