Young Bermudians Competing In New Zealand

January 13, 2017

Two young Bermudian America’s Cup Endeavour Program students are experiencing the opportunity of a lifetime – a trip to New Zealand, at no cost to them.

Ahzai Smith and Christopher Raymond, both aged 12, flew to New Zealand on January 3 with AC Endeavour Program Coordinator Leah Collis to compete in three regattas.

Both students participated in the 2015/2016 AC Endeavour program. Based on student performance and attendance at the Bermuda Sailing Nationals, instructors from the East and West forts nominated the students.

Ahzai of Warwick Academy was the top performer at the Championship Fleet and Christopher of Mount Saint Agnes was the top AC Endeavour performer at the Green Fleet during Nationals.

The pair flew from Bermuda to Houston and eventually to Queenstown in New Zealand. Their schedule is jam-packed with three regattas during their three weeks in New Zealand with the first held in Wanaka on January 7 and 8.

Ahzai and Christopher will then compete in Dunedin from January 21 to 23 and finally Queenstown on January 28 and 29.

Ahzai Smith and Christopher Raymond

Ahzai and Christopher Bermuda January 13 2017

In addition to competing in the three regattas, both students will participate in sailing clinics from January 13 to 15 in Queenstown and again on January 19 and 20 in Dunedin. The final sailing clinic will be held in Queenstown on January 26.

Tom Herbert-Evans, Community Sailing Manager, ACEA, says: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for these two young Bermudians and I really hope it inspires them and gives them a lifelong passion for sailing.

“They will return to Bermuda with new friends, improved sailing skills and a different look on the world.

“The America’s Cup and the America’s Cup Endeavour Program facilitated the experience with three regattas and a taste of outdoor adventure. I believe the students went bungee jumping earlier this week then on a three-hour outback cycle the day before!”.

Ahzai and Christopher are competing in O’Pen Bic boats. Their first competition was on Lake Wanaka in very tough conditions with the average winds of 18 knots and gusts up to 30 knots. Ahzai finished eighth on the first day and placed second in his age category at the end of the regatta.

Christopher finished 14th in the same age category. This was his second ever regatta and his first in the O’Pen Bic category with the toughest conditions he has sailed in.

Ahzai and Christopher were asked how their trip is going so far. Ahzai says: “It’s all a bit unreal! We flew a long way to get here, and that was an experience in itself, but to be here in New Zealand, competing against such good sailors, it’s just amazing.

“I want to thank the America’s Cup and the America’s Cup Endeavour Program for making this dream come true, and to thank Leah for coming all this way with us to help.”

Echoing those words, Christopher says: “I feel really lucky to be here and thank you to everyone who made this all happen. I’ve learnt so much so quickly, not just about sailing but about how great travel is and although I’m loving my trip to New Zealand, I can’t wait to get home to Bermuda and put what I’ve learnt into practice, and tell everyone about what’s happened down here.”

Both students are working with a private tutor so that they can keep up to date with their school work while travelling.

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Comments (5)

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  1. enough says:

    Wonderful experience, thank you Americas Cup personnel for all you are doing for our youth. I hope they have a wonderful time and come back with some great stories. Good luck in the rest of the racing.

  2. Well done! says:

    Congratulations to them and hope they have fun!

  3. the real Terry says:

    Any bets on where the 2 dislikes came from on such a positive event?

  4. Colibm says:

    Ahzai’s a fantastic kid… so glad he’s got this opportunity. Thrilled for both boys.

  5. Teacher says:

    Chermega, you are raising a fine young man. Ahzai, congrats on this accomplishment. All the best to you and Christopher. Have fun and take in the experience.