​A Bermudaful stopover to remember

03 July 2022

Whilst the Clipper Race fleet is back in race mode, Clipper Race Crew, Skippers and Officials are remembering the stunning debut week-long stopover in Bermuda.

The first-time Host Port truly delivered an incredible experience; from the minute Clipper Race Crew stepped onto land at Royal Yacht Club Bermuda (RBYC) they were greeted like honorary locals and received true Bermudian hospitality from start to finish, before spending the stopover making the most of Bermuda’s beaches, weather and events.

Following a highly tactical race from Panama, each of the teams received a warm welcome reception from Host Port Partners Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA), and key delegates including Tracy Berkeley, Interim CEO of the BTA, Bermuda’s Minister of Tourism, Vance Campbell and Craig Davis, Commodore of Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. The GoToBermuda team received an extra special welcome, arriving into their home port to cheering and fanfare from the Royal Bermuda Regiment Band.

Image: GoToBermuda team arrive in their home port

The Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) put on an incredible array of events for the crew, kicking things off with a Prizegiving ceremony to remember. With a local Gombey troupe performance, rum swizzles and a sun-soaked backdrop of the marina, it was the perfect party to get the stopover underway.

Image: Prizegiving ceremony at the RBYC

First up on the event schedule was a tour of the island, where crew members visited iconic sights and learned about the island’s history and culture provided by knowledgeable local tour guides. The day started off with a dip at the beautiful Horseshoe Bay, famed for its pink sand and perfectly clear water, followed by a tour of the Crystal Caves. Finally, a stop in historic St Georges rounded off the day where the crew could sample a traditional fish sandwich alongside the beautiful bluer-than-blue waterfront.

Image: Clipper Race crew at Horseshoe Bay

The Clipper Race also had the opportunity to spend a morning helping out at the Trunk Island Eco-Restoration Project. Crew were given a tour to see the native longtail seabirds in their natural habitat before heading to Trunk Island by boat. On the island, the team of volunteers explored the 300 year old palmetto forest, giving a sense of what the island was like when it was first discovered in 1609, before getting to work in helping with the mangrove planting project.

Speaking about Trunk Island, Trevor Rawson, Captain for Bermuda Zoological Society and Project Coordinator of Trunk Island said: “We have so many different projects out here. With Trunk Island being a restoration project, we bring out tonnes of native plants and animals to the island. One of the newest projects is the mangrove development project, which helps with coastal erosion protection and provides safe refuge for the mangroves, which suck carbon out of the atmosphere thus protecting our climate as fast as possible.”

Image: Race Crew and staff get to work on Trunk Island

To assist with the project, crew were tasked with filling bags with soil, to create a levy for soil protection against strong winds. Crew also got involved with planting young mangroves, which will be essential to restoration and protection of the island.

Trevor continues: “In 10-15 years we should have a fully functional mangrove habitat, and we’re trying our best to accelerate this as fast as possible, so we have to thank teams such as the volunteers from the Clipper Race for working hard and really putting the time in- they worked very very quickly and their knot tying expertise was great!”

Sophie Quintin, an Ocean Governance Specialist, and Race Crew on Seattle reported on the day’s activities: “It’s been absolutely fantastic. My research takes me to many countries, but I’ve never planted mangroves, and it was great working with the team to do this and a really insightful morning. We are essentially re-creating an ecosystem, which will be complete in 5-10 years time. To be able to be here today, and be part of the island conservation has been quite special. I certainly will come back to Bermuda in future to see how things have changed!”

Image: Sophie Quintin

Another activity on offer, and unsurprisingly one of the most popular for a group of sailors, was the Gosling’s Rum Tour. Hosted by Gosling’s Brand Director Andrew Holmes, the crew was welcomed to the Gosling’s Cellar with a Dark N Stormy on arrival, and spent the afternoon learning about the history of the island’s rum. A tour of HQ followed, where the crew were able to see how the rum is aged and blended, before returning to the bar area for the much-anticipated rum tasting part of the day. Needless to say, the crew were well hydrated and thoroughly enjoyed the variety of rum on offer.

Image: Andrew Holmes pouring the visiting crew a Dark N Stormy

Andrew said: “It’s really exciting to welcome all the Clipper Race participants to Gosling’s for a rum tasting. It’s not often we get such a diverse group of sailors here on the island, and it’s great to show the crew a bit of our Bermudian culture and of course taste some Gosling’s rum!”

In addition to the tourism events arranged by the BTA, the stopover featured three days of open boats. The Clipper Race team welcomed the local community to come and step on board a Clipper 70, and learn about life on a racing yacht and what it takes to sail across the world’s oceans. A special one-night-only open boat was also hosted at the Princess Hamilton Marina at sunset, to the backdrop of the hotel’s Marina Nights event. The BTA, Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and press also had the opportunity to experience sailing on board the GoToBermuda yacht in the island’s azure waters.

Twenty local schools visited the yachts and met the crew, with over 500 pupils from across the island taking part. The children were able to jump on board, spend time with the crew and have a go with the ‘coffee grinders’ to hoist flags.

Images: Local schoolchildren getting involved on board a Clipper 70

Tamara Sudkeo, Teacher at St. George’s Prep said: “ I thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity! I was able to visit my Primary 6 class to visit the racing yachts. They really enjoyed the visit, and loved learning about how the boats race, the angles at which they race, and they found it fascinating to see the intricacies of the boat.

“I enjoyed seeing their smiles and seeing them experience something they could potentially take part in, in the future. I’m hoping that this opportunity sparked an interest in sailing, because we are a maritime country, so this would be amazing to see.”

Team Partner Dare To Lead launched the next phase of the partnership during the stopover. This includes a fundraiser to create bursary crew places for the Clipper 2023-24 Race by auctioning off three sailing knots tied by its Chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. The occasion was marked with a briefing on board the Dare To Lead yacht, where founder Dirk van Daele explained the initiative to the current crew,, followed by the official launch event at the stunning Huckleberry restaurant in Hamilton.

In addition to the organised crew and corporate activities, the stopover was perfectly timed to cross over with the local Carnival celebrations which included carnival parades, raft ups and sunrise raves that offered a slice of true Bermudian culture.

When the crew, supporters and Race Staff said farewell to the island after an unforgettable week, vowing to return again after the race, the partnership between the Clipper Race and Bermuda was cemented as a huge success. Talking about the impact of the Clipper Race coming to Bermuda, Tracy Berkeley, Interim CEO of the BTA said: “It will give us unprecedented exposure- there are diverse people from diverse backgrounds, colliding on the island in a space where they wouldn’t normally. So what it will do for the island is just re-energise the space, and give the notion that Bermuda is back open for business.

She continues: “It will absolutely impact us in terms of tourism. We have seen that over the past few days the crew and their friends and family have come and stayed at our hotels, eaten at our restaurants and drank at our bars, so the impact is immediate. But beyond that, they’re also talking about returning with their families, and that is the most important thing that we wanted from this.

Image: William Ward OBE, CEO of Clipper Ventures, Jennifer Burland Adams, Rear Commodore of Sailing of RBYC, BTA Interim CEO Tracy Berkeley, Governor of Bermuda Her Excellency Rena Lalgie, and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.

Talking about the first-time partnership, she concludes: “Partnering with the Clipper Race naturally aligns with our national tourism plan. One of the key pillars of this is around local engagement, and what we like is the synergy between a group of diverse people coming to Bermuda and engaging with us in a way that is more sustainable and more meaningful. It’s amazing to see all of the hard work come into place, and hugely exciting for us.”

The first-time Host Port Partner also has its team entry, GoToBermuda, which has been flying the flag for the island around the world as it completes the Clipper 2019-20 Race. With the final homecoming leg underway, keep an eye on the Race Viewer to watch how the last of the action during the final two races of the race edition unfolds.

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