The America’s Cup Endeavour community sailing initiative, along with its partners, has today gifted the use of five of 15 Optimist dinghies, to local sailors. The boats were donated several months ago in significant disrepair but have been brought back to ‘as new’ condition through the efforts of the ORACLE TEAM USA shore team.
“It’s amazing to see the result of the work our shore and boat-building team put in here,” said ORACLE TEAM USA skipper Jimmy Spithill. “We’re all excited to get behind the AC Endeavour program and to support local kids getting out sailing.
“Our guys put in a lot of their own time to get these boats into a state where they’re as good as new – it’s unbelievable what a transformation there has been – and it’s great to now be able to pass them along so a new generation of keen sailors can use them.”
Five young Bermudian sailors, who have been inspired by their participation in the AC Endeavour program and demonstrated a desire to continue in the sport, have been selected to receive the Optimist dinghies. They will have the boats for the 2016 season, and be able to sail them out of local clubs on the island.
“We’re very excited to be included in this,” said Sean Soares, whose daughter Samantha 'Sammy' Soares received one of the Optimists. “It means so much to us that Samantha is able to continue sailing this year, as it has become one of her passions.
“Sailing has made a huge difference as the sport teaches so much – confidence, self-reliance, and discipline. It has made a huge impact with Samantha and we are extremely pleased to see this positive outlet available to her.”
"I'm going to name my boat 'redhead'," said Sammy, who said she plans to sail as much as she can this year. "I want to start tomorrow!"
AC Endeavour has received strong support from the sailing industry and the local community in Bermuda. The well-used dinghies were donated by the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club, and a team of workers from Butterfield and PwC helped to strip them down and deliver them to the ORACLE TEAM USA base in Dockyard.
North Sails has arranged the sails for the boats and Harken has given the rigging hardware, blocks and cleats. Magic Marine has supplied lifejackets and clothing.
“Helping to get kids excited about sailing is a no-brainer to me,” said Ken Read, the President of North Sails. “The AC Endeavour program gives young people a great introduction to the sport and now with these boats, we’re able to assist the ones who show a desire to keep going to continue in the sport.”
“Inspiring the next generation of sailors is how we keep our sport healthy and growing,” said Peter Harken, the Chairman of Harken. “If we can help to nurture young sailors as they grow into the sport, we’re happy to contribute in any way we can.”
“The enthusiasm these kids have shown as new sailors reminds us of what’s great about our sport,” said Max Blom, President of Magic Marine. “Who knows, we might be looking at a future America’s Cup sailor here… So let’s harness that spirit and help get them out on the water!”
Over the coming weeks, the remaining Optimist dinghies will be assigned to local sailors who have ‘graduated’ from the AC Endeavour program.
"It's so cool to see a program like this that paves the way for boats that would otherwise be wasted, to get a new life," said Spithill. "Hopefully what we've done in Bermuda is just a start."