In the wake of British Olympian Andrew Simpson’s death in a training accident in May 2013, many people kindly contacted ‘The Bart Project’ to offer their support, time and ideas about how we could honour his memory.
Tony Bishop, from the Queen Mary Sailing Club, suggested the concept of ‘Bart’s Bash’; bringing the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation, Sailing Clubs and Guinness World Record attempts together, with the vision of a large and inspiring event for sailors and sailing… put simply, we loved it and have set a date: the 21st of September 2014.
We had hopes that there would be a lot of people keen to support the idea, however it is fair to say we didn’t dare to presume the amount of global interest that this race would so quickly attract. We have wholeheartedly embraced this worldwide attention and enthusiasm and now we intend for the extravaganza to be open to anyone who sails, anywhere in the world, who can get to a club taking part.
We hope that sailing clubs will be able to use this opportunity in September as a gala event, organising a day of activities around the racing to celebrate sailing, honour Andy and encourage new participants to the sport. It will be local racing against a global field.
At the time of going to press we have over 300 sailing clubs signed up including involvement from Kenya, Australia, Canada, Greece, America, France, Spain, Malta, Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong, Bulgaria, Bermuda, Italy, Tanzania, Jamaica, Serbia, Thailand, Portugal, Vietnam, Belize and the Gulf - as well as commitment from international class associations and more.
An important current concern is that we comply with the Guinness World Record rules, which we expect to be very specific.
At this moment we are within their process to get the criteria correct for our attempts.
We are looking at both simultaneous start times at 11am BST on the 21st of September and also events being run within a 24 hour period, we are looking at records for the largest class and records for the largest entry into a sailing race. We are looking to include yachts, dinghies, multihulls, windsurfers, remote controlled boats and online racing.
You will appreciate that this is a complex process and we want to get it as right as we can. As soon as we have official clarification and clearance from Guinness, the news will be packaged and released and we will know the records we are attempting to break. This news will then allow us to provide briefings to clubs that enable them to begin specific preparations for their local event. Each club that signs up appoints an ‘Event Maker’ and we will be providing them with emailed updates on our progress.
They will then be in a position to feed this information back to club committees.One of the early decisions was the inclusion of Yachts, Multihulls and Windsurfers. We are also hoping to run an online ‘virtual’ race in tandem with the real one. Other classes of vessel are likely to be added as we broaden the scope of Bart’s Bash to be as inclusive as possible, while also keeping true to our event goals.
ASSF Bart’s Bash is clearly going to be a world first event - embracing the concept of sailors racing each other from clubs across the country, racing across continents and racing across the categories of boats. It is an event that will be ground breaking, inspiring and challenging - all the things that Bart would have loved.