Memory: Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson died in an America’s Cup training exercise last year. *AFP photo
Memory: Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson died in an America’s Cup training exercise last year. *AFP photo

Bermuda’s sailing community is being urged to get involved in the potentially world-record setting Bart’s Bash.

The global regatta will take place on September 21 and is set to feature a mind-blowing number of clubs and sailors from around the world.

It is being held in memory of Andew ‘Bart’ Simpson, the hugely popular Olympic gold medallist and America’s Cup sailor who lost his life in a training accident in San Franciso last year.

Bermuda has signed up — it currently has four boats registered —  and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club is now rallying other clubs and associations to join in the fundraising fun.

If the event catches on, like it is surely going to, there could be hundreds out on the water as the island joins in the bid to help stage the world’s biggest-ever regatta.

Each round around the world must start at 11am in their time zone to satisfy world record officials, while the race will also be filmed.

All classes of boat are encouraged to take part from the Optis — Simpson was a huge supporter of junior sailing — all the way up. Contest, the RBYC’s fitted dinghy, has already been lined up.

The event was set up by Simpson’s good friends and fellow elite sailors Sir Ben Ainslie and Iain Percy and the Bart’s Bash website outlines its goal.

It reads: “This race is a global monster that we hope will spread the sails of our great sport far and wide — inspiring young people to get involved; opening up opportunities for people to become engaged with the sailing industry in the broadest terms; providing opportunities for the pros at the top of their game to pass on knowledge to those who are starting out and most importantly doing it all in the spirit of friendship and fun that is so important in making the most of life.

“This race is a metaphor for how Andy lived his life — it’s about valuing what we have that is great, competing at the highest level, seeking to support every up-and-coming sailor, sharing experience, providing encouragement, expecting dedication and commitment.”

Nicole Butterworth, of the RBYC sailing office remembered Simpson from his last trip to Bermuda to compete in the ARGO Gold Cup  — as well as last year’s visit of Ainslie and Percy to compete again in the event and publicize the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation.

She told the Sun: “The last time Bart was here it was for the Gold Cup with Ben and he was there coaching the junior gold cup sailors, which he didn’t have to do.

“He was very much involved with the kids. His view was that everybody should have the opportunity to sail.”

She added: “Bart’s Bash is just to grow and grow.”

The event was originally conceived as being smaller but it has exploded. So far, more than 1,000 sailors have signed up from 505 clubs around the world from Thailand, Sri Lanka to Norway, Cayman and, of course, Bermuda.

These figures are expected to multiply, so if you want to be part of a truly historic and inspiring race, now is your chance.

Go to www.bartsbash.co.uk and sign up under the RBYC club entry. 

It doesn’t matter whether you are crew or skipper, everyone taking part can sign up to reflect the numbers Bermuda can boast for the event.