Sailors join hands for charity at Bart’s Bash

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The Royal Varuna Yacht Club in Pattaya and Ocean Marina Yacht Club members came out in force to support the Bart’s Bash race on Sunday 21st September, a Guinness World Record attempt for the largest sailing event hosted by over 750 yacht clubs worldwide on the same day. 

Though this was a record breaking day, most came to support the Andrew Simpson Foundation and local Thai children’s charities with some sailors brushing off the cobwebs from their racing machines after being dormant for a period of time.

Some great racing happened the day before with a pursuit race and a junior team racing competition, finishing with a party at the famous Royal Varuna Beach Bar on Saturday evening.

Junior sailors all smiles after Saturday’s team racing.Junior sailors all smiles after Saturday’s team racing.

Sunday dawned with a few hangovers but with 65 boats getting ready for the Bart’s Bash Race itself.  After the briefing and team photos, the race team set a square course in the little wind there was.  After a delay to the proceedings to get all the boats launched and out to the start area, the race team went into a start sequence.  However the wind was desperately light and the tide was pushing everyone over the line.  The inevitable happened and a general recall was signaled.

Sailors attend the pre-race briefing for Bart’s Bash on Sunday, Sept. 21 at Royal Varuna Yacht Club.Sailors attend the pre-race briefing for Bart’s Bash on Sunday, Sept. 21 at Royal Varuna Yacht Club.

By this time the wind, which had been from the north-west, was starting to die and swing left.  A further attempt was made at a start, but with so many boats over the line and a 90 degree hard shift left in the wind, a second recall ensued.  The race team reset the start and course to where they guessed the wind would steady, and luckily it wasn’t a bad guess and the third start saw the fleet get away with only an individual recall for two boats which did return to start correctly.

The breeze had also filled in to give some good sailing for all.  After the first lap, the top contenders were showing.  Alex Skaria’s F20 was the first through the gate and was obviously benefiting from the conditions.  He was chased across the line and all round the course by Pom Green and Pong in their F17.

Multihulls line up for the pursuit race.Multihulls line up for the pursuit race.

The most impressive first lap was by Sophie and David Tulloch who were 9th over the line but after the first lap in their RS400 they were ahead of the majority of F18’s and other catamarans!  Amongst the single-handed dinghies it was Charlie Zbinden who had made the best start and led the Laser fleet, with Morten Jacobsen in his OK just behind.

Apart from the front runners, this race was also about getting everyone on the water and sailing together.  As such there was a high range of abilities and experience from several people in their first major race right up to sailors who compete in World Championships.

It was also great to see the participation of all of the junior sailors.  They took a break from their RS QuBa Team Racing and joined together on various boats from QuBa’s through RS Visions right up to Hobie 16’s.  One of the greatest sights was seeing 6 junior Optimist sailors in an RS Vision together – they probably still didn’t make up a higher crew weight than two adults!

Boats of all shapes and sizes manned by crews spanning many generations attended the world record attempt.Boats of all shapes and sizes manned by crews spanning many generations attended the world record attempt.

Apart from experience there were sailors from 6 years old up to over (maybe significantly over!) 70 years old, all competing in the same race.  The youngest competitor was also in an RS Vision with his parents, and they were actually the first RS Vision to finish.

After 40 minutes the race team raised the ‘U’ flag to indicate boats would then be finishing when passing through the gate.  Overall local results were calculated based on average lap times and the club handicap.  Alex in the F20 took the win very closely followed by Sophie and David in their RS400.  Pom Green and Pong then followed in the F17.

Sailing stars of tomorrow showed off their boat handling skills.Sailing stars of tomorrow showed off their boat handling skills.

Further down the fleet, top single-handed dinghy was Morten in 7th who had overtaken Charlie.  However Charlie was still the first Laser at 12th overall.

After all the excitement of the race, the sailors headed ashore for a beach barbecue.  They were also joined by 12 keelboats and large multihulls who had started their race at Ocean Marina and had finished at Varuna.  It was great to see them come up to support the weekend.  The big boats then anchored up off the club to come ashore for the celebrations.  The sight with all the dinghies on the water together with the big boats was fantastic.  However the juniors were not allowed time off to recover – they had to finish the finals for the RS QuBa team racing which was also held directly off the beach for all to enjoy.

Overall the weekend and special race was an amazing tribute to Andrew (Bart) Simpson and 70,000 baht (£1350) was raised with the money split evenly between the Andrew Simpson Foundation and local Thai charities.  It also showcased sailing as a great, inclusive sport for all ages and abilities!