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Racing in the blood for Evans

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Rockal Evans has taken up the challenge of following in the footsteps of his late grandfather Howard Lee.

Lee represented Bermuda in the single handed Finn at the 1976 Olympics and, if all goes accordingly, Evans hopes to do exactly the same in the Olympic class dinghy as his grandfather did nearly four decades ago.

“It's a long-term plan and a lot of hard work, but I'm fully committed to it,” Evans said.

The 28-year-old is one of the most versatile sailors Bermuda has produced. He has competed in the fitted dinghy, Comet class, Etchells, Lasers and this month competed in the Viper 640 at the Bacardi Miami Sail Week, where he and team-mates Douglas DeCouto and Bill McNiven placed ninth in a fleet of 32 boats.

Following the regatta, Evans travelled to Valencia, Spain, to take part in a rigorous Finn training camp at The Dinghy Academy at the Real Club Náutico de Valencia.

“I'm in Valencia for three weeks to train to try and get the feel of the boat,” Evans said.

“I'm really starting to get the feeling upwind with speed and the power, but I still need to do a lot of work on the downwind technique.

“I used to sail a Laser, but the Finn is way better for my size.”

Established by 2000 Olympic Finn silver medallist and head coach Luca Devoti, the training camp is designed to develop the skills of aspiring Olympians in a group training environment.

“It's a group of about 15 really good Finn sailors from all over the world, some of whom have already been to the Olympics and some that have qualified for Rio 2016,” Evans said.

“My roommate Milan Vujasinovic is from Croatia and he finished fourth in his first Finn Gold Cup and also fourth at the Laser World Championships.

“He is a really good sailor who is helping me out so much on and off the water. So far, I have spent about 20 hours sailing the Finn, enjoying every minute of it, and each time I'm improving more. The other day I finished ahead of Björn Allansson who is ranked No 5 in the world right now.”

Evans plans to continue sharpening his skills in the Finn when he returns from Europe, but first he must overcome a major hurdle.

“My next step after this camp is to get a Finn in Bermuda, but I will need some funding or sponsorship to help buy one,” he said.

“There are no Finns in Bermuda, but I am trying to get one now, either from the United States or from Europe.”

Last week, top Finn sailors Sir Ben Ainslie and Giles Scott travelled to Bermuda to take part in a training camp with 35th America's Cup challengers, Ben Ainslie Racing.

Ainslie is a six-times world champion and three-times Olympic gold medallist in the Finn while Scott is a former world and European champion.

Evans added: “Hopefully, with the America's Cup coming to Bermuda, there will be a bunch of guys I can train with and maybe help with getting a boat there.”

n Argo Group Gold Cup champion Johnie Bernttsson has rejoined the ISAF World Match Racing Tour.

The Swedish skipper, who captured a second Gold Cup with Stena Sailing Team in October, has been named among the eight 2015-16 WMRT card holders.

WMRT champion Ian Williams, of Britain, Eric Monnin, of Switzerland, Bjorn Hansen, of Sweden, Keith Swinton, of Australia, Rueben Corbett, of New Zealand and Danish pair Joachim Aschenbrenner and Nicolai Sehested are the remaining Tour Card holders. Corbett, Aschenbrenner and Sehested are all making their Tour debuts.

The 2015-16 WMRT will feature 16 events, including the season- opening Congressional Cup in Long Beach, California, held from May 13 to 17, which has rejoined the WMRT after a more than a decade.

This year's Argo Group Gold Cup will take place from October 6 to 11.

For the first time since the Tour was founded nearly two decades ago, the series will award points to all events on the schedule divided into two categories — World Tour events and World Championship events — with skippers to count their highest five results towards the World Championship title.

Rockal Evans sailing in the Finn dinghy at this month's training camp in Valencia, Spain.
Rockal Evans sailing in the Finn dinghy at this month's training camp in Valencia, Spain.
Rockal Evans sailing in the Finn dinghy at this month's training camp in Valencia, Spain.

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Published March 24, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated March 24, 2015 at 12:50 am)

Racing in the blood for Evans

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