Battling bridge of doom proves hard work

May 13, 2017

Thirty-six sailors took to Hamilton Harbour last weekend to compete for the title of O’Pen Bic National Champion as well as a spot to compete in the O’Pen Bic America’s Cup Endeavour regatta during the 35th America’s Cup from June 14 to 18.

The two days were action-packed, with capsizes, 360 degree turns and a “bridge of doom”.

The O’Pen Bic is a plastic single-handed boat, developed by Vitali Design with an ideal weight range of between 66lbs to 143lbs. All the sailors competing were between the ages of nine and 16.

The self-draining hull makes it a fun boat to race and compete in for beginner to advanced racers, capsizing is actually mandatory during some of the races.

O’Pen Bic regattas have developed an un-regatta name, which means that they compete in a very different way than at normal regattas. Competitors sail a slalom course downwind with Nevin Sayre, O’Pen Bic Regatta director, issuing different activities to complete during a leg. This can be anything from: sailing standing up, a capsize, or a 360 degree turn.

During the final leg the sailors must tip their boats to “limbo” under a giant inflatable bridge.

Saturday greeted the sailors with a 20 to 30 knots of wind forecast and it didn’t disappoint, with gusts of 30 knots unexpectedly dropping down on the racecourse.

The sailors competed in eight races over the course of the day with a battle at the top of the fleet brewing. The sailors all improved throughout the day and although exhausted looked forward to day two with a similar forecast.

The Sunday surprised the sailors with lighter wind on the course, which enabled the lessons learnt from Saturday to be used on the racecourse. We saw sailors getting under the Bridge of Doom for the first time, improving their starts and less capsizes. Seven races were completed and a prize-giving and barbecue held at the Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club was the perfect end to a great weekend.

Congratulations to Jessie DeBraga and Christopher Raymond for qualifying to represent the America’s Cup Endeavour Programme with Sebastian Kempe winning the overall spot, and Gabrielle Brackstone earning the top female award.

The O’Pen Bic class spots were awarded to Aiden Lopes and Genevieve Lau. We are looking forward to supporting all our Bermudian sailors competing in the half-time shows.