A celebration of sport and a fallen sailor
Published on September 21st, 2014
(September 21, 2014) – Thousands of people from around the world took part today in Bart’s Bash, a sailing race that looks set to establish a new Guinness World Record for the Largest Sailing Race (24 hours). Set up to remember Olympic gold medallist Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson and to inspire the next generation of sailors, Bart’s Bash attracted over 18,000 participants of all ages and abilities, taking part at more than 700 sailing clubs in 68 different countries.
On May 9th, 2013, Olympic medalist Simpson tragically died in a training accident in San Francisco bay while preparing for the America’s Cup competition.
The Andrew Simpson Sailing Centre, in Weymouth, UK, was buzzing today with over 200 sailors taking part. Foundation Trustee Iain Percy, who won a gold and silver medal with Bart at the last two Olympic Games in Beijing and London, today sailed with the older of Andrew’s two sons, four-year-old Freddie.
“It has been an incredible day,” shored Percy. “It has never happened in any other sports that so many people have come together to remember one person; it’s very special. And it was special for Freddie and I to sail together here on these waters, for the first time after the Olympics. Today is a celebration of Bart but most importantly a celebration of our sport. It’s been such a success; many people today were inspired to sail for the first time. It has been a great fun race, and that’s why it will last into the future.”
The day has been a worldwide celebration of sailing, which has seen Olympic Champions, professional teams, sailing enthusiasts as well as newcomers racing and having fun, truly reflecting Bart’s ability to bring people together.
Foundation Trustee Sir Ben Ainslie, who raced with his girlfriend Georgie at the Queen Mary Sailing Club, was touched by the turnout. “The response has been unbelievable, almost overwhelming; a true testament to Bart’s popularity within the sailing community,” noted Ainslie. “Over 18,000 sailors from over 700 sailing clubs across 65 countries have taken part, from New Zealand to Newquay, from Hawaii to Heathrow, which is where I have been racing, at the Queen Mary Sailing Club. It was always going to be a special, fun and inspiring day and it has exceeded all expectations, thank you to everyone who has supported it and worked so hard to make it happen.”
The Wakatere Boating Club in New Zealand, the Nyack Boat Club in the United States, the Real Club Nautico de Calpe in Spain, the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, Dar es Salaam Yacht Club in Tanzania, the Cagliari Yacht Club/Windsurfing Club Cagliari in Italy and many more had over 100 participants registered. Click here to see the number of participants in every club.
As well as getting people on the water and enjoying a day’s sailing, Bart’s Bash has so far raised more than £155,000 of donations for the organising charity, the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation which was set up last year by friends and family of Andrew to honour his life and legacy. All the funds will support the development and delivery of the Foundation’s charitable programmes nationally and internationally.
These programmes, conceived with Bart’s and the Olympic values at their heart, are currently being developed and tested at the Andrew Simpson Sailing Centre, which was opened on 9th May 2014 on the Olympic waters of Weymouth and Portland. Pilot programmes, designed to enhance sailing activities and encourage participation, are also being tested in Bermuda and South Africa.
“Inspired by Bart, this event has been driven by people all over the world,” said Event Director and Foundation Trustee Jez Payne, who has sailed today for the first time. “Alongside the many, many sailors, thousands of volunteers have also stepped up to enable this race to be delivered. We are overwhelmed and humbled by the way the sailing community has come together to create the legacy event in Bart’s name. It’s a magical day that befits this fantastic man.’
The results of the event are currently being received from all the race venues; the Foundation’s technical team, which has created a system capable of handicapping several hundreds of boat classes, expects to announce the provisional results in the coming weeks. Once the data has been submitted and processed, it will be submitted to Guinness World Record by year’s end to determine if the requirements for the record have been met.