Sailing

Bermuda youngsters look for strong start in Thailand

  • Photograph by Shane McDonnell

Up for the challenge: Bermuda’s sailors at the Optimist World Championship in Thailand. From left — Christian Ebbin, Sebastian Kempe, Jack Hildebrand, Rian Geraghty-McDonnell, Jordan Etemadi
  • Photograph by Shane McDonnell

Up for the challenge: Bermuda’s sailors at the Optimist World Championship in Thailand. From left – Christian Ebbin, Sebastian Kempe, Jack Hilderbrand, Rian Geraghty-McDonnell, Jordan Etemadi

Bermuda’s youth sailors will look to hit the ground running when competition at the Optimist World Championship starts today in Thailand.

Flying the island’s banner are Sebastian Kempe, Jack Hildebrand, Christian Ebbin, Jordan Etemadi and Rian Geraghty-McDonnell, who are among a record field of 280 from 62 countries.

Kempe, Ebbin and Geraghty-McDonnell represented Bermuda at the recent Optimist North American Championship hosted by the Royal Canadian Yacht Club in Toronto.

Geraghty-McDonnell was the island’s top performer after finishing sixth in an overall fleet of nearly 200 entries.

Kempe was the second-highest local sailor and 20th overall. Magnus Ringstead rounded off the top-three local entries in 58th overall.

Bermuda’s sailors have found the going challenging since their arrival in Thailand as light wind and rain storms have hindered their preparations in the lead-up to the championship.

However, the breeze is expected to increase for today’s start of the individual championship.

The Optimist World Championship will take place from July 11 to 21 at the Royal Varuna Yacht Club with all racing to be contested in the Gulf of Thailand, situated between the mainland and Koh Larn.

The event comprises of two championships — the Optimist Individual World Championship and the Optimist Team Racing World Championship.

Last year’s championship was held in Vilamoura, Portugal, where Max Wallenberg, of Switzerland, was crowned world champion and Victoria Schultheis, of Malta, claimed the girls title.

Team USA won the team racing title, which is scored according to the lowest sum of final rankings of a country’s top-four ranked sailors in the individual championship.

Bermuda has yet to stage the Optimist World Championship but has hosted the Optimist North American Championship on three occasions, the most recent being in 2013.

Comanche, the first yacht to finish the 2016 Newport to Bermuda Race, achieved multiple speed records in the 2,225 nautical-mile Transpac Race from Los Angeles to Honolulu.

The 100-foot offshore racing yacht, co-owned by American billionaire Jim Clark and Kristy Hinze-Clark, eclipsed the 24-hour and course records for a monohull previously held by Neville Crichton’s 100-foot Alfa Romeo II.

Comanche posted a 24-hour run of 484.1 nautical miles to surpass the previous record of 431 nautical miles before setting a new course record of 05:01:55:26, slashing over half a day from Alfa Romeo II’s time of 05:14:36:20 set in 2009.

Clark’s racing yacht holds multiple speed records, including the Newport Bermuda Race elapsed time record which stands at 34:42:53.