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Bart's Bash Regatta 2019 at Hebe Haven Yacht Club

by Rob Allen 22 Sep 07:16 BST 14-15 September 2019

There are inherent risks in sport and sailing is no exception. Tragically, British sailor Andrew 'Bart' Simpson*, died on the 9th of May 2013 when his catamaran capsized on San Francisco Bay during training for the 34th America's Cup. In his memory, and organised by the Andrew Simpson Foundation, Bart's Bash has become an annual global programme of sailing events, recognised by Guinness World Records as 'The Largest Sailing Race'. This year it was held around the world on the 14th and 15th of September 2019.

The Hebe Haven Yacht Club again participated organising a fun programme of events and raising funds for Sailability Hong Kong. The programme included dinghy racing, a resail for the Crew Helm / Ladies Helm Race 2019, and one-design J-80 fleet racing with six participating crews - four from China along with the Hebe Dragons and Dad's Army teams on Baring Asia 1 and 2.

Scheduled for an 1100 start, the race officer, Nigel Slattery, assisted by Team Temujin, were obliged to postpone racing due to a lack of wind and, as a consequence, a lack of participants (who were still struggling to get to the start area).

Fortunately, with a developing 4-knot breeze, the 46 dinghies comprising 16 Optimists, 10 Hansa 303s, seven Picos, seven 2.4mRs and six RS Quests were given a downwind start at noon heading straight back to a finish line at the pontoons in front of the HHYC clubhouse.

The J-80s finally got away at 1300 on the first of their intended six two-lap windward / leeward races, heading for a windward mark at 140 degrees and 0.6nm from the committee boat. This was followed by a second race at 1350.

Meanwhile back at the HHYC, once the dinghy fleet arrived, a ribbon cutting and signing ceremony were held with the launch of three Hansa 303s donated by the Sun Hung Kai (Scallywag) Foundation. Lee Seng Huang, Group Executive Chairman of SHK, and David Witt, skipper of Scallywag were on hand to officiate with Lee wetting the bows of each boat with champagne as they were named Jelly Fish, Star Fish and Sun Fish, in memory of Scallywag's crew member John Fisher** lost overboard during the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18. The names were the result of a SHK Facebook competition.

Fortunately the breeze continued to strengthen and, at 1400, seven big boats set off, on Course 30 in 7 to 8 knots, competing in the Crew Helm / Ladies Helm Race 2019 resail. Six of the seven entries competed in both events including Blu, Bits & Pieces, Ichiban, Jibulai and Windseeker, all helmed by women who were not skippers of their boat, while Raptor only entered the Crew Helm and Ricochet only competed in the Ladies Helm. After sailing 8 nautical miles around Table, Bay and Table it was Kay Patterson on Bits & Pieces who claimed line and handicap honours in both with Jibulai 2nd. Windseeker finished 3rd in the Crew Helm race and Ricochet 3rd in the Ladies Helm.

After being served lunch on the water, the J-80s completed a further two races. In Race 3, the women on Jelik 6 Team Faith were in 5th place rounding the top mark but, having hoisted their white kite, overtook two competitors to finish 3rd. After four races the overall series went to Jazz Team Jam, with Jelik 6 Team Faith 2nd and Baring Asia 1 Hebe Dragons 3rd. The event forms part of the Greater Bay Youth Series including regattas in Guangdong and Macau.

Finally, 43 of the original 46 dinghies returned to the start area for their second race but, in view of the lateness, set off at 1600. Instead of rounding Shelter Island they rounded the leeward mark of the J-80 course just 50 metres in front of the committee vessel and headed back to the finish line at Hebe Haven Yacht Club. Unfortunately not everyone had taken notice of the change of course and headed off towards Shelter Island.

The prize-giving was held back at the Garden Bar where David Witt made the awards. Only overall prizes were presented for the dinghies. Mason Wilkinson (Optimist) finished 3rd in the first race, Leo Purdie (Hansa 303) 2nd and Fabel Liauw (Optimist) 1st. Unfortunately, in Race 2, Optimist sailor Seb van Ommeren's 2nd place award was presented to the wrong person (later sorted out), while Optimist sailors Vianney Lacouture and Peter Jessop finished 3rd and 1st respectively.

The day proved a great success and all involved at the club are to be congratulated in organising a really fun day on and off the water with some HK$52,000 raised for Sailability Hong Kong, a fitting tribute to the sailors John Fisher and Andrew Simpson.

*Andrew 'Bart' Simpson MBE (1976-2013) Olympic gold and silver medallist in the Star Class at the Beijing 2008 and London Olympics 2012, representing GBR. Died on the 9th of May 2013 after a capsize of the catamaran on which he was crewing while training in San Francisco Bay for the 34th America's Cup

**John Fisher, aged 48 British born but living in Adelaide, Australia, 'Fish' was knocked overboard on the 26th of March 2018 during Leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race (Auckland to Itajai, Brazil). After an extensive search in severe conditions - winds of between 35 and 45 knots, 4- to 5-metre seas and a temperature of 9oC, he was declared lost at sea some 1,400 nautical miles west of Cape Horn in the Southern Ocean.

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