By Amy Villalba
Bart’s Bash, a charity regatta and Guinness World Record attempt for the Largest Sailing Race in 24 Hours (Multiple Venues), was held September 21 at 760 sailing clubs in 67 countries. The event was a fundraiser for the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation, created in memory of double-Olympic medalist Andrew “Bart” Simpson, who died in an accident while training for the 34th America’s Cup.
With no wind, 52 boats rafted up on the Hudson. © Janet Maya/janetmayaphoto.com
Founded by Simpson’s wife, Leah and his friends Sir Ben Ainslie CBE and Iain Percy OBE, the Foundation uses sailing and invaluable time on the water to help those aged 5 to 24 develop the skills to succeed in life and improve access to jobs and careers within the maritime sector. With 17,952 sailors set to sail in memory of Bart, Nyack Boat Club (NBC) in Nyack NY led the world with 249 registered sailors.
We were not surprised when registration numbers rose to 287 sailors heading out in 89 boats of all types: Lasers, cruisers, Finns, Beneteaus, Lightnings, etc. Add Race Patrol and Committee, witnesses, photographers, and 303 people were on the Hudson River to support the Bash. Historic for NBC; and world record-worthy we hoped.
Three races were planned. A windsurfer would race “against” an Ensign; seasoned racer against novice, a 6-year-old vs. a 94-year-old (NBC’s Henry Ridder; the oldest competitor), unknowns vs. Jimmy Spithill and Sir Ben Ainslie, and that was what made this event so cool! If you hadn’t guessed, this was a handicapped race with each boat class getting a “Bart’s” number, similar to a PHRF rating, and incredibly there would be a “winner.”
Many thought the wind would blow, but there was nary a zephyr. With a glass-like river, the time limit approaching and 303 people on the water looking for fun, a raft-up was quickly formed. In all, 52 boats spanned the Hudson making a beautiful sight if not quite the one we’d hoped for. You can’t keep a sailor’s spirit at bay. Back on shore, the festive mood from the raft-up continued as we listened to the Jay Mickens band and counted the donations to the ASSF, a fantastic $6,000. Bart’s Bash did break the World Record. More importantly, it brought the sailing community together for a glorious 24 hours in one big Bash. For more information, see BartsBash.co.uk.