Alex Gough arrival hands Bermuda’s SSL Gold Cup preparation a major boost
Bermuda’s Star Sailing team have pulled off a major coup after securing the expertise of professional sailor and coach Alex Gough.
The Australian, who has competed in the RC44 and TP52 classes as well as the prestigious Sydney Hobart Race and Volvo Ocean Race, has come on-board as interim coach to assist the local team as it prepares for next year’s Star Sailors League Gold Cup qualifiers.
“This is definitely a major coup having Alex on board,” Rockal Evans, the team captain, told The Royal Gazette. “It is awesome because Alex brings a lot of value to the team as he’s a professional world-class sailor.
“We can all benefit from learning from him and like any coach he is a good communicator and has been a professional sailor for many years sailing in the RC44 and TP52 series.
“Alex also does multiple roles. He is a main trimmer, jib trimmer, kite trimmer, tactician and the list goes on.
“He’s done multiple Sydney Hobart Races and the Volvo Ocean Race as one of the younger sailors and is also a sailmaker, so he knows all about sail shape and setting up different trimming ideas.”
The Brisbane-born sailor started out sailing in the 420 class before an apprenticeship as a sailmaker inspired him to move to competing in larger boats.
His career took off in 2018 when he competed with Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag in the Volvo Ocean Race.
It was in that race Gough went overboard in rough seas untethered and without a life jacket during a sail change on the Melbourne to Hong Kong leg before being rescued.
The Australian champion sailor has also made three appearances in the Sydney-Hobart race and competes as a pitman on-board German TP52 Super Series team Platoon and Monaco- based RC44 Championship Tout team Charisma.
Gough’s first assignment with the Bermuda Star Sailing League team will be putting them through their paces during a five-day training camp in Grandson, Switzerland, starting on Saturday as the island ramps up its preparations for next year’s qualifiers to be held at a venue and date yet to be confirmed.
“Alex is going to be on the boat with us actually showing us how to do stuff hands on,” Evans added.
“He is an all-round sailor. He knows like all the positions on the boat and he communicates really good.”
Gough has already expressed an interest in coaching the team on a long-term basis.
“Alex is going to be with us for the training camp but he is interested to be our coach for he next qualifier and long-term also if it fits within his schedule,” Evans said.
Bermuda’s sailors are determined to achieve their objective having missed out on qualifying for the inaugural Star Sailors League Gold Cup last year.
“The team is keen to build on our previous experience from last year’s qualifiers where we narrowly missed out on the opportunity to compete in the 2023 Cup finals,” Evans added.
“The goal is not only to qualify for the next edition, but also continue to pave the way for more young Bermudian sailors to aspire to compete at this level against the world’s best.
“The team would like to say a big thank-you to Aspen Insurance as our title sponsor.
“Aspen’s continued support enables the team to compete on the world stage with a greater level of preparation than otherwise possible.”
Australian-based Evans, who competes regularly in the TP52 class Down Under, is among six surviving members from last year’s team which also includes Peter Dill, Will Lorimer-Turner, Somers Kempe, Thomas Penruddocke and Michael Wollmann.
They will be joined by newcomers Ruairi Brown, Aran McKittrick, Megan Sherwin and Jade Smith.
“They are all eager to get on-board with the team and sail,” Evans said. “They are all very active sailors, young up and coming and that’s the kind of people we are looking for to get involved.”
The biennial SSL Gold Cup is designed to determine the world’s best sailing nation, with teams competing in the one-design SSL 47 monohull.