Bumper fleet of young competitors on island

  • Sebastian Kempe will represent Bermuda this weekend (File photograph)

A bumper fleet of youth sailors from five different countries will showcase their talents during the 2017 Bermuda Optimist Dinghy Association Nationals & Open Championships, that start today.

The regatta is divided into two fleets with 62 sailors registered in the Championship fleet and 60 in the developmental Green fleet.

The Championship series will be contested in the Great Sound and the Green Fleet in Hamilton Harbour.

Sailors from North America, Canada, Cayman Islands, Ireland and Bermuda make up this year’s race fleet.

Among the local hopefuls are Azhai Smith, last year’s top Bermudian finisher, Sebastian Kempe, Christian Ebbin and Magnus Ringsted.

Ebbin has some momentum heading into the regatta having finished as the top local and eighth overall at last month’s RenaissanceRe Junior Gold Cup.

Also flying the island’s flag is Nicole Stovell, who was top local girl and 18th overall in this year’s Junior Gold Cup.

There is added incentive for the local sailors as the regatta is also the final trial for those vying for the five automatic spots on Bermuda’s team to compete at next year’s South American Optimist Championships in Uruguay.

“The regatta should be good and hopefully we get some good weather for the weekend,” Somers Kempe, the regatta chairman, told The Royal Gazette.

“We have quite a number of kids from the Endeavour Programme taking part this year which is really great to see.”

Overseas sailors expected to be thick in the hunt include United States Optimist champion Stephan Baker and former Bermuda resident Rian Geraghty-McDonnell, who now competes for Ireland.

American Justin Callahan was last year’s overall winner, but is not back to defend his title having aged out of the class.

Returning to defend her overall girls title is Vanessa Lahrkamp, also of the US.

The BODA Nationals & Open Championships run until Monday.