Sarah Norbury, PBO's Contributing Editor, reports from a thrills and spills Bart's Bash race in Vassiliki, Greece.

One of the fantastic things about Bart’s Bash is that anyone can

take part, even when far away from their home club.

In Vassiliki, a strong-wind

mecca on the Greek island of Levkas, holidaymaking sailors from 12 countries

gravitated to Wildwind windsurf and dinghy club, swelling the numbers already

taking part to 44 boats and 66 people.

All came together to honour the life of

Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson, support the sailing charity set up in his memory, and

help break the Guinness world record for the biggest-ever sailing race.

It was an exciting event – too exciting for some! Tiny Quba

dinghies, Lasers from nearby Ocean Elements club, various RS asymmetrics and

local boats from Levkas SC all started together in one mass movement spiced up

by Wildwind’s fleet of high-speed Hobie cats.

Luckily there was just a light

breeze on the first leg giving the boats a chance to separate before humungous,

violent gusts torpedoed down from the mountain that flanks Vassiliki bay.

This Bart’s Bash race was brilliant for thrill-seekers. The wind

veered after the start turning the course into a series of wild reaches.

White-knuckle planing in a Laser towards a gybe mark already surrounded by

capsized boats is something I won’t forget, nor my own wipe-out that swiftly

followed.

Luckily the gusts were interspersed by lulls, giving capsizers a

chance to right their boats before riding the next turquoise wave in a another

blast of breeze in the glorious Greek sunshine.

Overall winner of the Vassiliki event was Jon Powell representing

Warsash Sailing Club near Southampton in an Ocean Elements Laser. Sarah Smith

of Hayling Island Sailing Club scored second place in a Wildwind Laser Radial.

Only 25 of the 44 boats finished but all the retirees were quickly

rescued and soon smiling on the beach. Adults and children sailed and

celebrated together in a truly international mix including Britons, Greeks,

Serbians, Canadians, Swedes, Danes, Swiss and many more.

Simon Morgan, founder of Wildwind, said: ‘I’m thrilled with the

amount of support from our clients, other companies’ clients, Levkas SC and a

good contingent of expats, all of whom put their hands in their pockets to support

the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation.

‘And we’re looking forward to doing it

again here next year.’

Pictures: PBO’s Contributing Editor Sarah Norbur; Before the start; Left to right, second-placed Sarah Smith, Wildwind founder

Simon Morgan, overall winner Jon Powell;Nonika

Oikonopolou, Coach Nautical Club of Lefkas; After the finish, survivors and retirees safely back on the

beach