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O’pen Bic sailors with Team Emirates up on foils in the background. Photo by Karen Tone.

American Youth on the Podium at the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda By Susan Davidson


racle Team USA lost the America’s Cup, but some young Florida sailors brought home trophies from what may be the newest international sporting event: The America’s Cup Endeavour Open. Bryce Tone, 14, from Bradenton, FL, and J.J. (Jessica) Smith, 15, from Palmetto, FL, sail with Sarasota Youth Sailing, a community program based at the Sarasota Sailing Squadron. In March, their club hosted the 2017 North American O’pen Bic Championship. Against 80 sailors, from as far away as Hawaii, Bryce won the regatta, and J.J. took sixth place, which qualified both of them to attend an extraordinary event in Bermuda. The Endeavour Open, in conjunction with the America’s Cup Event Authority, invited 32 O’pen Bic sailors from around the world to race in Bermuda. The sailors, and one chaperone, were provided room and board for a week in Bermuda. Custom sails that identified the sailor and their country were supplied along with the boats. The sailors, age 15 and younger, came from the countries that had challenged Oracle USA (Sweden, New Zealand, France, Japan, Great Britain) as well as Bermuda, Australia, and USA. Ten youth sailors were from the USA. On day one, J.J. explored Bermuda’s historic cities and pink sand beaches, while Bryce caught up with local sailing friends for some cliff jumping. From then on, the focus was sailing. Just like America’s Cup teams, these sailors were issued outstanding gear: rash guards, pinnies to wear over lifejackets, hats, bags, helmets, water bottles, and more—all sporting the Endeavour America’s Cup logo. The sailors competed in a two-day Un-Regatta (won by Bryce) that included lots of unusual maneuvers that the O’pen Bics perform while racing. O’pen Bic sailors are usually required to stand up on some leg of the race, sail a slalom course that creates ultra tight mark roundings, and perform “dry” capsizes (that often end up wet). There was

News & Views for Southern Sailors

The award winning sailors of the O’pen Bic races. In the front row on the far left is JJ Smith, and in the center front row with the hat on is Bryce Tone. Photo by Magi Foster.

also a “Bridge of Doom” (an inflatable arch) where sailors needed to heel their boats over to pass under—pile ups were plentiful at this challenging feature! This style of racing still provides the traditional and competitive upwind leg, but adds multiple fun elements to the race, which keeps all the sailors engaged and smiling—no matter where they finish. Nevin Sayre, the O’pen Bic representative who organized the event, continually shared his special enthusiasm and enticed the jumbo foiling America’s Cup cats to do fly-bys near the O’pen Bic race course. The highlight of the trip was the Endeavour O’pen Bic half-time race between Oracle/New Zealand’s race 1 and 2 of the America’s Cup Finals. The young sailors raced directly in front of the crowded grandstands. Tucker Thompson, the America’s Cup host and announcer, provided play-byplay for their eight minute race that included a finish line by the “Bridge of Doom.” Cameras broadcast the race onto the jumbo screens for 7000 cheering spectators in the America’s Cup Village. Kiwi and American fans cheered in unison for the O’pen Bic sailors. Live video of the race was sent around the world (NBC cut away and did not air it for U.S. viewers). J.J. remembers, “Hearing my name announced and seeing the international crowd cheer for all the Bics was an overwhelming experience. Sailing beside the America’s Cup foiling cats was amazing!” Bryce heard Tucker’s booming voice announce his name over the sound system in third place, and J.J. heard hers as she finished in fifth place, as the first girl. Receiving awards in front of the crowd on the America’s Cup center stage was an unforgettable moment for both Bryce and J.J. Although Oracle Team USA lost the 35th America’s Cup, Bryce Tone and J.J. Smith sailed exceptionally well in Bermuda, and provide hope that young U.S. sailors will ultimately win back the America’s Cup. SOUTHWINDS

August 2017


Southwinds August 2017  

A free, printed sailing magazine reporting on sailing in the southeast U.S: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missi...

Southwinds August 2017  

A free, printed sailing magazine reporting on sailing in the southeast U.S: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missi...