Gladwin Lambert, the long-time organiser of the Edward Cross Long Distance Comet Race, praised former race competitors, Cecilia Wollmann and Malcolm Benn Smith for reaching the qualifying standard for this summer’s Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.
The pair, along with Michael Wollmann, are the three sailors to have qualified for the games, the Bermuda Olympic Association yesterday announcing a squad of 19 who have reached the standard and eligible for selection.
Lambert reflected on the pairs past participation in annual Long Distance Comet Race, which is held every June from one end of the island to the other and this year celebrates its 75th anniversary.
The race, which is scheduled for Monday, June 17, will start from the West End Sailboat Club and take the competitors along the North Shore to the East End Mini Yacht Club.
“Cecilia crewed with her sister Ellie Wollmann in 2013 and 2014,” Lambert recalls. “They were the first, and so far only, sisters to crew a boat in the Edward Cross Long Distance Comet Race.
“Ellie Wollmann was in fact only the second woman to skipper a boat in the history of the Long Distance Comet Race. The first female skipper in the race was Sherrita Steede in 1989.”
Benn Smith also competed in the popular race, with his father Malcolm Smith winning the race in 2018. Malcolm has also competed in the Pan Am Games.
“Last year, Malcolm was able to break Stevie Dickinson’s long string of first place finishers in the Long Distance Comet Race,” Lambert said. “Stevie had placed first every year from 2013 to 2017 and it looked he might win again in 2018. But Malcolm beat out Stevie to win the race. It made for another exciting race!”
Lambert praised both Dickinson and Heath Foggo, another former Long Distance Comet Race winner, for their participation in this week’s 69th Argo Group Gold Cup as crew members on skipper Kelsey Durham’s boat. Campbell Duffy is the other crew member.
“To see these men and women, who are also Comet sailors, participating and representing Bermuda in other classes of sailing, and at such a high level, is very positive for the sport in general,” said Lambert who still competes annually in the Long Distance Comet Race and is a two-time winner himself. His father, Canute, was the inaugural winner of the race in 1945.
“It sends the message that with hard work and dedication our young sailors can sail in just about any class of boat they wish And at an international level!”