Captain Ed Williams & Williams Jr
Headshots Captain Ed Williams & Williams Jr

For one sailor taking part in this year’s Marion to Bermuda race, the voyage will mark an extra special journey.

Ed Williams will be carrying on his father’s legacy by competing in the race which has a trophy named after him.


In the biennial event for 2013, race organizers have introduced a new class, the Classic Yacht Division.

The Captain Ed Williams Trophy will be awarded to the first boat to finish on corrected time.

It is so named after the late Captain H. Edward Williams, a professional sailor and advocate for the Bermuda Sloop Foundation, which owns and operates the sloop Spirit of Bermuda.

Captain Williams was always a passionate champion and supporter of a training vessel on which to educate Bermuda’s youth in sailing and their links to their forefathers’ past.

He was deeply involved with the Bermuda Sloop Foundation charity, which built Spirit as a replica of a traditional Bermuda sloop.

Captain Williams died just a few months after the official launch of Spirit in Bermuda, but his son will now sail on the sloop as it sails from Marion to Bermuda. “I feel quite honoured to be there and for something in which he believed in so much,” said Mr Williams, 64.

“I think that for him it would be the next best thing to him actually being there.”

It is the first time Mr Williams has entered the ocean yacht race and it also marks the inaugural Marion to Bermuda race for Spirit. Preston Hutchings will skipper the boat with a crew of 20.

He said: “The organizers phoned me a few months ago and told me the committee had decided to name the trophy after my Dad. As a family we are so excited about his legacy living on through this trophy.

“I’m very excited about the race. I’ve sailed with Preston Hutchings before and think it’s fantastic he’s chartered Spirit for this event. It’s going to be really exciting for everyone on board.

“He is racing with his family and friends but has also opened up a couple of slots for young people in the Bermuda Sloop Foundation programme.

Spirit did very well in the Newport Bermuda Race last year and we hope that in this particular race she will also do well.

“Hopefully we will have the same conditions and we will really be able to show off what she can do.”

Mr Williams, a sales representative for Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty and a former business development manager for WEDCO, said Captain Williams was a charter boat captain, a professional skipper and also a taxi driver. He passed away seven years ago at the age of 89.

“My father sailed since he was a child and completed many Newport to Bermuda races,” said Mr Williams.

“His life was at sea — the only time he wasn’t there was when he was in his taxi cab.

“He really believed in using sailboats to help children learn leadership and responsibility, as well as the fundamentals of sailing.

“He was on the original steering committee for the Bermuda Sloop Foundation and was the signatory on the building contract for the Spirit of Bermuda, so he was delighted when the programme he always dreamed about was created. It was a dream come true for him.

“He passed away just three months after Spirit arrived, and was delighted he got to see her. I remember seeing him at the ceremony on the day she arrived — he was really excited about it all.

“He was always one of the people who dreamed about Bermuda having a sailing training vessel for an educational programme. He really believed in helping Bermudian children to learn about how sailing was part of their heritage.

“Sailing used to be seen as ‘a rich white man’s sport’ but my father wanted to make it clear that the ancestors of many Bermudians were involved in sailing.


“A lot of black slaves mastered these vessels and were part of the crew; they were important members of the boat.

“There was a whole different philosophy of integration on a sailing vessel because you depended on each other.

“My father also felt that sailing was a wonderful means of helping kids to learn about responsibility. This is one of the real achievements that Spirit has been able to do, to touch kids in this way.”

Mr Williams and his sister, Leona Scott, are also passionate advocates for the Bermuda Sloop Foundation and its programme.

While Ms Scott advocates for Bermudians’ sailing heritage and its role in history in her job at the Ministry of Education, Mr Williams is a member of the Sloop Foundation’s Ambassador programme, helping to create opportunities for the youth of Bermuda.

Mr Williams, of Hamilton parish, said: “We really advocate for Spirit and the Sloop Foundation.

“The goal is to get most young people in Bermuda involved with something that means so much to our history as Bermudians, and that can also help them in terms of life skills.

“You can also have a great time and enjoy this wonderful sport.”

Mr Williams has sailed since he was five-years-old and has also enjoyed offshore ocean racing.

He said Spirit’s entry in the Marion to Bermuda race can only help to further raise awareness of the Sloop Foundation’s work.

 “The more we can highlight what the Bermuda Sloop Foundation is all about, and its objectives, the more we can create greater opportunities for young people.”


For more information see www.bermudasloop.org.