Bermudian youth sailors received a sneak preview of the America’s Cup Community Sailing Programme on Thursday.
With the first building blocks of the programme – 8 Hobie Wave catamarans – arriving on the island this week, the opportunity to test sail the boats with 14 youth sailors was too good to pass up.
America’s Cup sailors Jimmy Spithill, Tom Slingsby, Rome Kirby and Andrew Campbell from ORACLE TEAM USA were joined by newly appointed SoftBank Team Japan skipper Dean Barker, all of whom served as the crew on the Hobie Waves, with the youth sailors handling skippering duties.
Double Olympic gold-medalist Shirley Robertson, the host of the CNN Mainsail television program, took out another boat, as did five-time America’s Cup winner Russell Coutts.
“Today was a lot of fun for all of us,” said a soaked but smiling Jimmy Spithill afterwards. “Seeing this, I get a sense of what the Community Sailing Programme will mean when we have all of the boats on the island operating from the two sailing hubs in St. George’s and Dockyard later this summer.
“It’s such a great opportunity for the kids to get out on the water, to learn about sailing and all of the aspects that go into it, including the academic parts that are so important – the science, technology, engineering and math. But the learning comes in a fun environment and that’s what makes it so powerful.”
“We won the race!“ said Jada Philips, from Somerset, who beat all comers in the first contest, sailing with ORACLE TEAM USA’s Andrew Campbell. “It was really fun. It was cool getting to know Andrew and learning about the Hobie boat. It’s really exciting to have the America’s Cup in Bermuda and I can’t wait to see it.”
The Endeavour program will operate from bases on the eastern and western ends of the island of Bermuda, beginning late in the summer.
The Youth Sailing component will provide sailing experiences for kids aged 9 to 12 years old as well as access to tours of the ORACLE TEAM USA base in Dockyard, where they will be exposed to the incredible technology and innovation at the heart of a modern America’s Cup team.
There is also a STEM program (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) themed around sailing and the America’s Cup. This includes modules on everything from health and nutrition to the math and physics behind sailing and yacht design. The STEM program will initially be aimed at 9-12 year olds through programs in Bermuda schools.
Equipment for the Endeavour programme has been supplied by North Sails, Hobie Cat, BIC Sport, RS Sailing, Harken, Dynamic Dollies and Racks, Magic Marine and is supported by several local partners in Bermuda such as Orbis, Appleby, Butterfield and PwC.