‘Best event we’ve had’ – SailGP in Bermuda hailed to the rafters
Wing-sailed foiling catamarans cutting through the Great Sound faster than the wind and the world’s greatest sailors doing battle over two exhilarating days of racing … SailGP returned to Bermuda in spectacular style.
The island, which boasts a rich history of maritime pursuits, was tasked with hosting the opening regatta of the global sailing league’s third season and it certainly did not disappoint, exceeding all expectations.
While Tom Slingsby and his Australian team ultimately prevailed in a grand-final encounter against old rival Sir Ben Ainslie’s Great Britain, and impressive newcomers Canada helmed by Phil Robertson on the water, off it Cross Island was buzzing full of the sights and sounds of spectators enjoying the festivities.
“It has been a fantastic opening weekend of the season and Bermuda has truly put on a spectacular show,” said Sir Russell Coutts, SailGP chief executive. “The support on island has been very special and it was great to see the crowds out over the weekend, both on the water and in the race village to welcome SailGP back to Bermuda.
Although the elite field of competitors inevitably grabbed most of the headlines, Bermuda’s next generation of sailors seized their opportunity to steal some of the spotlight throughout the weekend, displaying their skills through SailGP’s Inspire Careers and Racing programmes
As a crop of young Bermudians played an integral role supporting within each of the teams on land, another bunch of just as talented young locals showcased their on-water ability competing in the WASZP foiling class on the same racecourse as the supercharged F50s.
“Even though this was the first event of the season, I have to say this was probably the best event we’ve had,” said Thomas Herbert-Evans, the SailGP Youth Programme Manager.
“Not only have we had 22 young Bermudians interning with different departments off the water working within all of the teams, within the careers programme, which has been incredible, we also had the WASZP racing programme in which the young local sailors trained with a professional coach and raced out on the same racecourse as the F50s.
“For the first time in the history of the programme in a full season, we’ve had a female winner in Rachael Betschart, who was just incredible throughout.
“She will now, along with Ethan Thompson, be invited to compete in the Grand Final in San Francisco against 11 other nations, which is just mad for those two young Bermudians.
“The important thing for young Bermudians is to realise that this island is built for sailing; even the F50s are Bermudian-rigged. The upwind sailing that we were watching over the last two days was essentially invented on island hundreds of years ago.
“It is amazing to play a small part in helping the island and its young sailors reconnect with its maritime roots.”
As the curtain comes down on the Season 3 opener, Bermuda can quite rightly be proud of laying the foundations to what promises to be another exciting campaign.
“If this weekend is anything to go by, I am very excited for the season ahead,” Coutts added.
Over to you, Chicago!