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Brit Ben Anderson wins SailGP Inspire WASZP racing in Bermuda

by Ben Anderson 9 May 06:14 PDT 4-5 May 2024
WASZP racing at SailGP Bermuda © Mikael Raber

SailGP were in Bermuda at the beginning of May, and alongside the F50 racing ran their highly competitive Inspire foiling programme in WASZPS for Under 21 year old sailors.

Eighteen sailors participated in two days of training in the WASZPs, followed by one day of Qualification and then two days of Finals Racing.

The wind was very light in the two days of training so the sailors mostly practised their low-riding, which is where they remain in displacement mode as there is not enough wind to get up onto the foils. They also had a guided tour of the SailGP Tech Base, and spent a couple of hours with Nick Hutton being shown round the GBR Emirates F50.

On the Qualification day the fleet was to be split into Gold and Silver; the wind was around 10 knots and both Ben Anderson from GBR and Seb Kempe from Bermuda were incredibly consistent and won all their races in their respective heats.

Some of the sailors also did a race to the front of the SailGP Race Village, past the F50s, on TV. All Inspire sailors had front row seats at the televised SailGP Press Conference that morning, meeting all the helms and asking them a variety of questions.

On the first day of Finals Racing, there was a fresh 18-20 knots breeze blowing and big sea building, which made getting in and out of Bermuda Great Sound tricky in those conditions in a WASZP. Being just 14 years old, Ben Anderson from Gurnard Sailing Club, was using the smaller 6.9 sail that day, whilst the older top sailors opted for the full-size 8.2 sail; once the breeze started to drop off in the afternoon the bigger sail produced the best results with Seb Kempe comprehensively leading the first day in the Gold Fleet after 7 races, with Roo Purves second, and Tom Mitchell and Ben tied on points close behind. The Silver Fleet also did 7 races, mostly using the smaller 6.9 sails.

The second day of the Finals dawned with lighter winds, in the 8-10 knot range. Both Gold and Silver completed a further 4 races each. Ben was most consistent with a 1,1,1,2 scorecard which took him from tied with 3rd place on points to leading overall with a 3 point margin over Roo from Scotland, who was just 1 point ahead of Seb (who can usually be found successfully campaigning his ILCA 7 around the World, more recently looking to qualify Bermuda for the Olympics, and had only jumped into the WASZP for the event) who found the breeze just a little too light.

So after 11 races, Ben won the Bermuda SailGP Inspire regatta which means he qualified to race in the SailGP Grand Finals end of season event in San Francisco on 13/14 July; Elysia O'Leary from Ireland also qualified in 5th place as lead Female, with Pia Raber in 7th, Nicola Richards in 8th and Harriet George who came 12th.

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