FRIDAY, APR. 20: Bacardi’s Bermuda International Invitational Race Week action begins this Sunday in the waters of Bermuda’s Great Sound.
The annual event organized by the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and supported by the Spanish Point Boat Club will feature racing in four one-design classes — Comets, Lasers, International Etchells and International One Designs (IOD). Racing for the Lasers, Etchells and IOD’s will conclude Friday April 27.
The Comets will hold all of their races on the opening Sunday.
The IOD fleet has the strongest showing in this year’s racing.
There are 13 teams in the IODs, the most vital one-design class in Bermuda. The participants are from the United States, Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, Canada and Bermuda.
The strong batch of skippers in the IOD class features two past world champions.
These headliners are Bermuda’s own Penny Simmons, a six-time world champion, and John Burnham from Fisher’s Island New York, a two-time champion co-skippering with Peter Rugg.
In addition, the 2011 champion Dan Faria from Newport is keen to take back-to-back wins. Giles Peckham who represents the Daring Fleet from Cowes, England won the Vrengen trophy three years ago and is anxious to repeat.
Other former Race Week winners are Bermuda’s other skipper Craig Davis, shipwright and prominent 8-metre sailor Bruce Dyson from the Marblehead fleet and Jan Petter Roed from Norway.
Three new competitors join the Bermuda competition this year.
Marc Migilazzo represents the St. Mawes- England fleet.
He crewed in Bermuda in IODs several times, but this will be his first time at the helm. Tim Heckscher and Roderick Thaler, a new co-skippering team, represents the Long Island Sound IOD fleet.
The final rookie is Tyler Steel from the North East Harbour Fleet in Maine. All competitors will find a warm welcome from Bermuda, Bacardi and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.
The International Etchells Class has six entries this year. Three are locals from Bermuda, one is Canadian, one is from the United Kingdom and one is from the United States.
The local talent is led this year by Will Thompson, who came second in 2011 with crew Somers Kempe and Adam Barboza. Tompson’s team will face stiff competition from Tim Patton with Peter Martin and Hal Kempe as crew.
The Laser fleet has 16 competitors — nine Bermudians, three Canadians, and four Americans.
Past Sunfish world champion Malcolm Smith, Laser champion Brett Wright and defending Race Week champion Rockal Evans are expected to be in contention for top honours in the Laser fleet this year. Evans, who also sails the Comet and Fitted Dinghy, is gunning for a third straight Race Week title this year.
This year marks the Comet Class’s first appearance in this event in four years.
As many as twelve boats will make up the Comet fleet that will compete in a five-race series to be held in a single day.
“Although it’s only going to be a one day event for Comets, this is a start in the right direction and all the guys are excited,” said Bermuda Comet president Gladwin Lambert.
Class heavyweights Stevie Dickinson, Rudy Bailey and Lambert are expected to be in the hunt for silver in the Comet Fleet.