Kiwi Rush rules the waves

  • Plain sailing: George Lee Rush was in commanding form during the RenRe Junior Gold Cup at the weekend 

(Photograph by Charles Anderson)

George Lee Rush, of Takapuna, New Zealand, put forth a commanding performance to win the RenRe Junior Gold Cup, leading the regatta from start to finish at the weekend.

Rush, 14, from the Wakatere Boating Club, previously competed in 2017 and placed thirteenth overall.

This year he stormed out of the gate, won three of the first four races and never looked back. Rush finished with the low score of 32 points in the 12-race regatta and had the championship wrapped up before the final race in Hamilton Harbour.

“It feels great to win,” said Rush at the awards ceremony. “When I got here, I didn’t expect to win. And then after the first day I thought it was possible.”

Sebastian Kempe, of Bermuda, placed second overall after a strong final race. Heading into the race Kempe was tied with Matheo Capasso, of the Cayman Islands, on 49 points, but Kempe placed third in the race to Capasso’s thirteenth to take second while Capasso finished third. Kempe also won the Dick Kempe Memorial Trophy, awarded to the top Bermudian sailor.

Fourth place was won by Yanne Broers, of the Netherlands, who was also the top female skipper in a fleet of 34 entrants from 14 nations, which included 20 Bermudians.

More than 30 per cent of the fleet was female, and there were four first-time entries from the Bahamas, Cayman, Israel and Peru.

Winner of the Peter N. Cooper Memorial Trophy for the Harbour Race on Saturday was Maayan Shemesh from Israel. Shemesh represented Israel’s first participation in the regatta that invites one youth sailor from foreign countries.

The top Bermudian female was Laura Hupman in eleventh place.

A total of 12 races were held, with 11 being conducted in Great Sound between Wednesday and Friday, and the traditional final race on Hamilton Harbour on Saturday, between the semi-finals and final of the King Edward VII Gold Cup.

“Although the scores don’t reflect it, this year’s regatta was one of the closest on the water with a very talented group of sailors,” Dede Cooper, the event chairwoman, said.

“The wind was consistently between 11 and 16 knots throughout the week with some tricky, shifty conditions. George’s consistency is what really paid off.

“It’s a pleasure and privilege to give so many youth sailors an opportunity to compete at this boutique, world-class regatta.”

Rush was the story of the week. His four first-place finishes and two seconds meant that he held a 17-point lead going into the final race. Besides being spectacular on the water, he was equally entertaining at the awards ceremony.

In his speech he thanked Cooper, saying: “That’s a lot to organise.” Then he brought down the house when he spoke of his parents.

“I also have to thank Mum and Dad. Mum had to stay home and work all week while dad got to come to Bermuda and drink rum,” he said to uproarious laughter.

“But they both always help me out.

“They got me started in sailing and hopefully this is the start of something for me.”