Evans evades jaws of danger

  • Podium finish: Rockal Evans, the Olympic Games hopeful, produced seven top-three finishes at the Sail Brisbane in Australia last weekend

(Photograph by Emily Scott Images)

Rockal Evans shrugged off an encounter with a shark to earn a place on the podium at the Sail Brisbane in Australia at the weekend.

The Bermuda sailor finished third among the 11 entries in the Finn class at the regatta hosted by the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron. Evans was a model of consistency as he produced seven top-three finishes in the eight-race series to earn his fourth podium in the Olympic class.

“We had some good racing and conditions on Moreton Bay which reminded me so much of Bermuda’s Great Sound sailing conditions,” Evans said. “I felt stronger and faster than last year at this regatta, so it was all positives.”

Not even a brief encounter with a five-foot-long shark could undermine Evans’s podium bid.

“I sailed over a shark in one race and it was an intimidating experience,” he said. “It was on my mind for a good 30 seconds but I had to get on and focus on racing.

“There are bull sharks and tiger sharks in the marina and no one can swim in it.

“The bay is covered in sharks, the locals say.”

Australia’s Jack Lilley, who was a grinder for 35th America’s Cup Swedish challenger Artemis Racing, won the regatta by a comfortable margin over nearest rival and compatriot Lewis Brake. Evans will now look to keep the momentum going when he competes in his next event, the Sail Sydney.

“I’m feeling positive going into the next regatta which is going to be tougher with more Olympic campaign sailors competing,” he said.

“It will be interesting because I feel more consistent in speed all around the racetrack and a lot stronger thanks to my new exercise physiologist in Sydney.”

Evans moved to Sydney a year ago and will be based there for the next two years as he steps up his qualifying bid for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The 30-year-old is vying for one of only three available Olympic spots from the North and South American region. He competes in the same single-handed Finn class in which his late grandfather Howard Lee represented Bermuda at the Olympics in Montreal in 1976.

The Finn first appeared at the Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland, 1952 and is the most longstanding of any Olympic dinghy class.