Jimmy Spithill grateful to have SailGP show back on the road
Jimmy Spithill says everyone’s health on the island remains top priority after he and his United States SailGP team-mates resumed water trials in the supercharged F50 in the Great Sound yesterday in preparation for the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess.
“For many of the athletes on our team, including myself, Bermuda is like a second home,” the United States SailGP helmsman and chief executive, told The Royal Gazette. “We’re of course happy to be back on the water, but our first priority remains the health of everyone on the island.”
Spithill added: “We are currently operating in a way that maximises our ability to continue training while also following the best safety protocols possible as agreed with local authorities.
“There’s no racecourse quite like the Great Sound, and we’re looking forward to putting on an awesome show for Bermuda.”
All operations at SailGP’s racing facility on Cross Island were suspended on Tuesday in compliance with the Bermuda Government’s Covid-19 restrictions in response to the recent surge in active cases, which has included five additional deaths to take the overall total to 17.
Event organisers and the Bermuda Tourism Authority then worked closely after the Government’s tightening of Covid-19 protocols to ensure that the regatta and the essential operations and on-water safety trials can take place.
SailGP applied for exemptions to continue its operations and the on-water safety trials during the Government’s seven-day stay at home order, which were granted yesterday.
This includes the exemptions for the world-class athletes to have sufficient time to familiarise themselves with all the new systems that have been recently implemented on their F50 boats. These essential on-water safety trials and training, which are vital to ensure the safety of all competitors in the event next weekend, will resume this afternoon on the Great Sound.
Working with the Government, SailGP has drastically pared down its operational requirements over the stay-at-home order period, which concludes on Tuesday. Measures include reduced number of people on site to only those that are essential to finishing the preparations of all eight boats and the on-water safety trials, a reduced training programme from eight race boats to four boats, plus the reduction of on-site hours as much as possible.
In addition, SailGP is further revising aspects of its event programming next weekend to ensure a safe and successful event. This includes changes to its hospitality programme to comply with latest government protocols and the cancellation of the ticketed tour boat spectator experiences, refunded in full via Island Tour Centre.
To ensure the safety of both local residents and its world-class teams and support staff, SailGP has worked closely with the Ministry of Health, alongside other leading experts, medical professions and other major elite sports events, on creating and implementing a robust Covid-Safe Plan. This includes creating protocols for all staff to operate in strict designated bubble environments — which ensures absolutely no external contact — daily health reports and regular testing, among other measures.
Sir Russell Coutts, the SailGP chief executive, said: “We are extremely sympathetic to the current situation in Bermuda and our thoughts are with everyone that has been affected by this terrible global pandemic. We are really pleased that we can return to our operations to ensure the safety of the event next weekend.
“We thank the Government for their assistance and the people of Bermuda for their understanding. Bermuda’s ability to deliver world-class sporting events while facing unprecedented circumstances has helped to position them as a leading global sports destination with an administration that is able to diligently and efficiently manage these difficult circumstances.
“We look forward to showcasing the island of Bermuda on April 24 and 25, and putting on a great show for not only the local community but also for our worldwide audience.”