More than 7,290 sailors took part in the third annual Bart’s Bash, which coincided with the Rio Paralympic sailing finale in support of disabled sailing.
The global participation and fundraising event in aid of the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation (ASSF) is held in memory of double Olympic medallist and America’s Cup sailor Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson who tragically died in 2013.
Following the decision to remove sailing from the Paralympics at Tokyo 2020, this year’s Bart’s Bash was timed to coincide with the final day of Paralympic sailing in Rio, with the goal of raising awareness and funds to help support disabled sailing around the world and to increase participation at a grass roots level.
Wild weather and gale forecasts forced Sailability Wellington in New Zealand, which had been expected to kick off proceedings, to postpone their Bash until next week, enabling The Royal Brunei Yacht Club to claim the accolade of being first across the starting line.
Organiser, Mike Carter, said: ‘Bart’s Bash has been a highlight of the Royal Brunei calendar for the past three years. This year is our biggest event with 30-plus boats on the water and approximately 55 sailors.
‘We have an age range of seven to 66. For the first time this year we have complete novices crewing Hobie 16s, Laser 16s, 420s and Picos. We wish everyone around the world the very best of luck.’
More than 360 sailing clubs and venues in 58 countries signed up to participate in the third annual Bart’s Bash event with races taking place throughout the weekend.
Rio 2016 Olympic gold medallists, Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark, Giles Scott and silver medallist Nick Dempsey were among the British Sailing Team members who took part in the Bash at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, home of the Andrew Simpson Sailing Centre.
Olympic gold and silver medallist in the 470 dinghy class Saskia Clark said: ‘This is the last weekend of the Paralympics and for sailing it’s the last time, at the moment, that we know sailing will be part of the Paralympics. Unfortunately it’s got dropped from the schedule.
‘So this year, Bart’s Bash is all about trying to raise awareness for Paralympic sailing, and why it’s really important it’s in the schedule.
‘Basically we’re trying to raise support and funds, and to really get behind disabled sailing and to get sailing back in the Paralympics.’
London 2012 silver medallist Luke Patience, who took part in a Pico dinghy, said: ‘We’re celebrating a great man of sailing. I think everybody in the British Sailing Team loves showing a bit of support for the foundation.
‘We all knew Bart, he mentored a lot of us and we’re showing our support for that.’
In Bermuda, America’s Cup sailors from Artemis Racing, Oracle Team USA and SoftBank Team Japan held their own Bart’s Bash race in memory of their friend and former colleague Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson.
The double Olympic medallist and father of two tragically lost his life in 2013 when the 72ft catamaran he was sailing in capsized in San Francisco Bay, while he was training for the Americas Cup.
ASSF trustee Iain Percy, triple Olympic medallist and America’s Cup sailor, took part in two Bart’s Bash events some 5,000 miles apart – in Bermuda and at Hayling Island Sailing Club – in honour of his best friend and sailing partner Bart.
He said: ‘It’s amazing to be here but kind of sad to think it’s been three years because it doesn’t feel that long at all, but what an amazing event we do now each year to remember Bart and it’s kind of fitting for him – tens of thousands of people worldwide, enjoying a day with their families and enjoying sailing. It’s very special.’
The weekend wasn’t just about Olympians, World Champions and sailing legends supporting the cause, as Bart’s Bash is for people of all abilities. The event is all about having fun, inspiring and encouraging more people into the sport of sailing.
Tony Bishop, one of the founders of Bart’s Bash, said: ‘It’s our third year and it’s been phenomenal, with 360 venues around the world taking part.
‘The results are coming in already. The wave has started. Bart’s Bash is basically your normal race but you’re on a global stage, you’re racing against everybody around the world.’
A key goal of Bart’s Bash is to raise funds for the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation (ASSF) which supports youth and disabled sailing and aims to build on Andrew’s legacy.
ASSF trustee Sir Ben Ainslie, the world’s most successful Olympic sailor and America’s Cup campaigner, added: ‘The work ASSF can do on the back of Bart’s Bash and other events is just amazing.’
He added: ‘Thank you to everyone who is taking part.’
So far £25,533 – and counting – has been raised and will be used to support disabled sailing initiatives world-wide.
Next year’s Bart’s Bash weekend will take place 16-17 September 2017. Find out more at www.bartsbash.com
To apply for an ASSF grant for your local sailing club or sailing centre, contact the foundation as soon as possible for more details by visiting the website andrewsimpsonfoundation.org or emailing email@example.com
Bart’s Bash, the global sailing race that took place on 21 September, 2014 raised £366,391.95 for the Andrew Simpson Sailing
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