Young Bermuda Sailors Show Talent In Europe

July 22, 2014

Four young Bermuda sailors have just finished competing in the Optimist European Championships in Dublin, Ireland, with young competitors Campbell Patton showcasing his sailing talents within a highly competitive international fleet of over 250 sailors.

A spokesperson said, “Every year the Bermuda Optimist Dinghy Association [BODA] holds Trials to establish the best Optimist sailors in Bermuda to represent the Country in some of the international regattas run by the World governing body of Optimist sailing, IODA.

“The top two events in the calendar are the World and European Championships, the top sailors from each country can only go to one of the two events and must make a choice, these sailors tend to be approaching the maximum age for competing in Optimists [under 16]. However the Bermuda European’s Team of four sailors will all reach the age of 13 in 2014 and were some of the youngest sailors at the Dublin regatta, where 44 countries sent teams of their top sailors.

“Bermuda’s leading male and female Optimist sailors from the BODA Trials represented BER in Dublin, this is the only major Optimist Regatta in the World where the Boys and the Girls race separately, the unique formula proving to be extremely popular with the top sailors.

“Team entries to the Europeans are limited to a maximum four sailors for non-European sailors and seven for the European countries, there are also minimum requirements in terms of boys and girls. The Bermuda Team for 2014 was Campbell Patton, Yannick Hillier, Micah Thomas and Matilda Nicholls. Bermuda veteran sailor Tim Patton accompanied the sailors as Team Leader with Team Coach Robbie Burns from Scotland.

“Prior to leaving Bermuda, the sailors and their parents organised a fund rising Fish Fry at SPBC and in addition were grateful for additional support from BODA and some private individuals. The Team were well prepared for the regatta having spent a week training as part of the BODA High Performance Clinic in Bermuda just days prior to flying to Europe.

“They also got to the venue a few days early to acclimatise and get used to the tidal conditions of Dublin Bay. The Team were grateful to the hospitable local families who kindly offered them accommodation and lent them a RIB prior to the main regatta starting.”

Pre-regatta Training in Dublin Bay

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“The conditions throughout the week were best described as broad, almost all sailing conditions were experienced; light, medium and stronger winds, sunny skies, rain and fog, flat water, choppy seas and larger waves. Dublin Bay did not disappoint and when the racing was organised by a thoroughly professional team of volunteers from the Royal St George Yacht Club, a fabulous week experienced by the sailors.

“The amazing part of the story is the success the young Bermuda sailors had; particular high praise should go to the RBYC Sailing Academy’s Campbell Patton, who despite having to count 2 penalties during the week form minor infractions, Campbell finished the week qualifying for the Gold Fleet [top 50 boys], his final position being 18th, he notched up four top 10 finishes from the nine races.

“Had he managed to avoid his penalties, he would have finished 11th overall. This is a remarkable achievement for a sailor who only turned 13 a few months ago.”

A proud father and Team Leader said, “Campbell sailed a good week, but some errors cost him some crucial places, at this age this is a great learning experience.

“This is a long summer of sailing for Campbell and it’s been a great start with such strong competition to sail against. We look forward to sailing in Wales next week at the International Regatta in Pwllheli before moving onto the 2012 Olympic sailing venue in Weymouth for the British Championships.”

“David Hillier accompanied his son Yannick throughout the week, and Micah’s mother and Matilda’s father Ben Nicholls arrived at the end of the regatta to join the team.”

“It’s been a while since I last raced in Dublin Bay, the Irish are such great hosts and they certainly know how to put on great regattas, this week has been no exception, our young sailors are extremely fortunate to have been a part of this week. Campbell Patton has shown the world again just what a talent he is, this regatta success follows on from his World’s success last summer when aged 12 and great results in Spain and Italy earlier this year.

“The success is a credit to the coaches at their Bermuda Clubs, I hope these kids will remember these experiences and enjoy the sport for many years to come.”

The Bermuda Regatta team [photo courtesy by Robbie Burns]

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Bermuda’s senior Coach Paul Doughty, responsible for BODA Sailor Development earlier this year, was thrilled with the achievements of the four sailors, saying, “The experience these young sailors pick up now sets them up for a lifetime of great sailing opportunities. The more experienced sailors in Bermuda have been trying hard to focus these kids on a longer-term strategy, Optimist sailing is not the pinnacle of the sport, it is just one of the first rungs on the ladder.

“For Campbell and Matilda to have got into the Gold Fleets of this extremely competitive regatta is a major accomplishment and bodes very well for the future. You have to go back many years to find the last time Bermuda had such young talent coming through at so young an age. For Yannick and Micah, this was their first major regatta experience in Europe, the world’s strongest Continent for junior and youth sailing.

“Great things are taking shape, the excellent structure and focus the RYA Learn to Sail scheme has bought to Bermuda together with the RBYC Sailing Academy’s focus on more and better sailing is now beginning to show fruit.”

RBYC Sailing Academy’s Director of Sailing, Tom Herbert-Evans said, “The many hundreds of kids enjoying sailing lessons this summer are all part of a great process and let’s hope more young Bermudian sailors can emulate or even improve upon this success in Dublin.

“This summer many of our more experienced sailors are competing in other regattas including the International Regatta in Wales, various National Championships including Great Britain, Switzerland, America and Canada. Some sailors are also going to the popular New England Championships.

“In October we host the Junior Gold Cup, but at this time a team of five Bermuda sailors will also head to the IODA World Championships in Argentina. Busy times, but it’s great to see so much activity.”

The Bermuda team results at the 2014 Optimist European Championship were as follows:

  • 18th – Campbell Patton – Boys Gold Fleet
  • 50th – Matilda Nicholls – Girls Gold Fleet
  • 126th – Yannick Hillier – Boys Bronze Fleet – 24th
  • 141st – Micah Thomas – Boys Bronze Fleet – 39th

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