‛This is going to be exciting’ – Comet veteran Gladwin Lambert embraces SailGP
Gladwin Lambert is a Comet sailor through and through, but any type of sailing gets his attention, which is why he will be out there this weekend watching the SailGP races in the Great Sound.
It does not matter that government restrictions will limit the number of spectators on the water, he has already figured out a couple of spots along the shoreline to watch the action.
“I want to go out along the rocks, I’m planning to be at Fort Scaur to have a look at the races or somewhere along the shoreline,” Lambert said.
“I’m excited it’s being held here in Bermuda, and I don’t think it’s a one shot; that for the next five years they are wanting to have races here. This is going to be exciting. This is not match racing but fleet racing.
“You’re talking about eight catamarans on the start line at the same time, and at times they could be doing 35mph to 40mph depending on the wind strength. Eight boats starting together; that’s where the excitement of the racing comes, and they’ll have the whole Great Sound to set the course.
“Right now they are saying that people can come out, but they have to stay in their bubble. In other words, if you are going out on your boat, you can only take people who live in your house.
“I’m just hoping people will stay within the rules. I’m all in favour of the regatta taking place in Bermuda; it just shows the quality of our facilities for sailboat racing. We don’t even have a boat in the race, yet they want to have it in Bermuda.”
Lambert is the elder statesman of the Comet class whose regular season was due to start on March 28 but has been delayed because of Covid-19 restrictions. The sailors from the three clubs, West End Sailboat Club, Mid-Atlantic Boat and Sports Club and East End Mini Yacht Club, are all looking ahead to the popular Edward Cross Long Distance Comet Race on Heroes Day on June 20.
The race, which is in its 77th year, is set to start in Dockyard and take the fleet to the finish line off St George’s Harbour. Lambert, whose father, Canute, won the first race in 1944, is still racing himself at age 72 and hoping he can pull off a first victory since 1990.
“We are going down [to St George’s] this year and right now all the boats are at East End Mini Yacht Club because that is where we were going to start the season off for club racing.” he explained.
“But because of all that has taken place, we haven’t been able to do any sailing this year. Last year the Long Distance race was cancelled on Heroes Day, but we ended up having it on [what would have been] the first day of Cup Match.”
Maxwell Curtis and crew Stefan Furbert picked up a maiden victory as Stevie Dickinson was denied a 21st victory, settling for second while Rudy Bailey placed third and Lambert fourth.
“We didn’t do a lot of advertising because we were told we were only allowed 100 people at the boat club at the finish line,” Lambert said.
“It was a very close finish last year, the top three boats finished within 15 seconds. We don’t usually get a finish that close in the long distance race … 18 miles and it ended up like that!”
Lambert has been sailing Comets some 62 years, starting as a crew when just 10 years old, before sailing in his own Comet at age 17. His two Long Distance wins came in 1977 and 1990, with “about seven second places”.
Lambert, who is a former rear commodore and sailing chairman at West End Sailboat Club, said: “I’m the veteran out there now. I had a very good season last year; it was only on two occasions that I didn’t finish in the top three each Sunday.”
Last year he stood down as vice-president of the Comet Class Association of Bermuda after 22 years, a position now held by George Hayward.
“The first Long Distance race goes back to 1944, from Somerset Bridge and the weather was so bad that they had to open up the bridges [Swing Bridge and Severn Bridge] and let them go through,” he said.
”Twelve boats started but only six boats finished that year, and the first winner was my father, Canute Lambert. The following year, 1945, Edward Cross made a trophy for them to race for.
“In 1942 they started to sail Comets off West Side, Somerset. In 1942, they established the West End Sailboat Club. Mid-Atlantic started their club in 1944 and East End Mini Yacht Club was formed in 1968.”