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Kempe leads striking Bermuda improvement

Making waves: Amelia Lewis, left, Laura Hupman, Sebastian Kempe, Nicole Stovell, Rachael Betschart, Matheo Capasso (Cayman Islands), Magnus Ringsted, Dieter Creitz (USA) and Christian Ebbin (Photograph by Somers Kempe)

Sebastian Kempe, Laura Hupman, Christian Ebbin, Rachael Betschart and Magnus Ringsted secured their spots in the gold fleet during yesterday’s penultimate day of the United States Optimist Dinghy Association Midwinter Championships in New Orleans.

Kempe was the island’s top qualifier for the championship fleet and sits in tenth position in the overall fleet of 234.

Hupman was the next highest qualifier, having climbed 11 places on the leaderboard from 32nd to 21st, followed by Ebbin, the British Open and Bermuda Open optimist champion, who moved up from 51st to 22nd.

Betschart made the biggest gain among the local contingent, as she surged from 104th to 37th, while Ringsted moved 20 places from 94th to 74th to make the cut by a whisker.

Amelia Lewis and Nicole Stovell, the remaining sailors on Bermuda’s seven-member team, both failed to make the cut and will compete in the silver fleet today.

The event is being held on Lake Pontchartrain and is hosted by the Southern Yacht Club.

Lewis, the Bermuda national optimist champion, sits in 97th spot and Stovell in 131st.

Bermuda’s team, comprised entirely of sailors from the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club sailing academy, are being accompanied in New Orleans by high performance coach Pablo Weber.

Meanwhile, Tommy Sitzmann, of the Lauderdale Yacht Club, leads the fleet after five races and a discard, while Samara Walshe, of Edgartown Yacht Club Long Island Sailing Optimist Team, is the top girl and ninth overall.