Clarke’s legacy to be honoured with regatta
By Colin Thompson
The memory of late Comet sailor Colin Clarke could live on through an international regatta honouring his legacy.
The East End Mini Yacht Club sailor died last Saturday at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital after a bout with illness. He was 79.
Prior to his death a proposal had been made to honour Clarke, who helped make sailing in Bermuda inclusive for people from all walks of life, by staging an international regatta in his name.
“The Bermuda Comet Class should host an International regatta inviting United States Comet sailors, top local sailors and our America's Cup sailors in order to help unite in our sport by race and by generation,” Malcolm Kirkland, the father of Bermuda's 2012 London Olympic sailors Jesse and Zander Kirkland, said.
“The Mayor of Hamilton has offered to donate the Clarke International Invitation trophy.”
Alan Burland, the Bermuda Olympic sailor, has given the proposal his firm backing.
“Honouring Colin Clarke in a long-term sustainable way is something we must do,” Burland said. “Colin Clarke was a true pioneer who loved sailing and who gave so much to Bermuda.
“He was a marvellous ambassador for Bermuda's entire sailing fraternity and promoted sailing tirelessly and was always willing to help at all levels.
“His vision included a strong plan to see fully inclusive sailing involving people of all races and walks of life, gender and ages.
“He was a trailblazer promoting sailing here and overseas and perhaps a memorial race can be held to celebrate his memory.”
Clarke, the first black member to be accepted at the Spanish Point Boat Club, played an integral role in Bermuda hosting the 1992 Comet Class Internationals and the introduction of the Tornado Class to the Island in the 1980s. The Tornado catamaran is a forerunner to the AC45 and AC62 catamarans now sailed in the America's Cup.
Clarke came into the direct contact with the America's Cup after striking up a relationship with the crews of 26th America's Cup syndicate, Courageous, who had travelled to the Island to prepare for the New York Yacht Club's first challenge for the “Auld Mug” in over 132 years in Fremantle, Australia in 1987.
“Between 1985 and ‘87 dad trained, sailed, worked with the Courageous sailing camp in Bermuda,” Clarke's son, Mark, said.
“Dad introduced Gladwin Lambert and Stevie Dickinson who were invited to train with them, resulting in Stevie being invited to stay with the team.
“This team became an integral part of the Comet Class family. They helped renovate our family home and attended functions at East End Mini Yacht Club.”
Clarke, who has received tributes from all around the world, always hoped the 35th America's Cup would be contested in the Great Sound.
“He described it as the opportunity to tell the Bermuda story; to explain Bermuda's unique maritime and sailing legacy to the world,” Kirkland said.
Burland added: “Colin was over the moon with the potential, now the reality, of the America's Cup being hosted and sailed in Bermuda. We will be sure to remember his legacy as the cannon goes off at the start of America's Cup Bermuda 2017.”
A home-going service for Clarke, a former winner of the Annual Long Distance Comet Race and Comet Class Yacht Racing Association president for Bermuda's region, will be held at Heritage Worship Centre today.