When the calendar turned Jan. 1, 2020, organizers for the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club’s Bermuda Gold Cup match racing regatta were eyeing this week, the 19th week of 2020, as a celebration of the storied regatta.
This week was to be the week that the 70th regatta for the Bermuda Gold Cup, an event of the World Match Racing Tour, was held.
A dynamite lineup that included past champions, world champions and World No. 1-ranked skippers was secure and racing on Hamilton Harbour in May is one of the more idyllic settings the sailors could enjoy. It was going to be a week worth remembering.
Then the calendar rolled into mid-March and the western hemisphere came to a grinding halt due to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Social distancing is the primary means to tamp out spreading of the highly infectious disease and the Bermuda government banned all foreign travel to the island on Mar. 20.
Now, as Bermuda begins Phase 1 of its reopening protocol, the promise of International One-Design (IOD) sloops battling bow-to-bow has been rescheduled to Oct. 25-30. With a dash of luck, the 70th Bermuda Gold Cup, presented by Argo Group for the benefit of the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), will still occur this year.
“The Gold Cup has a history of surviving through hurricanes, but this is probably the most fluid and uncertain situation we’ve ever had to contend with,” said Leatrice Oatley, the regatta chairperson and a Past Commodore of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. “The coronavirus is unlike anything the world has ever seen and its effects are startling. We’re planning to hold the 70th Gold Cup in October, but there are a number of obstacles still to overcome. We certainly hope they’ll all be met and we’ll enjoy close racing come October.”
The Bermuda government has outlined four phases for reopening the country, each lasting approximately two weeks. The current Phase 1 allows for limited business. Phase 2 provides for an expansion of services, Phase 3 a move towards normalcy and Phase 4 normalcy. The final phase is the most important as it allows for the reopening of Bermuda’s L.F. Wade International Airport.
“Given the time frame of each phase, we probably won’t know what travel will look like until late June,” Oatley said. “So, although we’re still in a holding pattern, we are eager to welcome all to our beautiful Bermuda blue halo for the 70th Gold Cup in October,” Oatley said.
The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club wishes continued safe passage to all navigating their way through the pandemic.
by Sean McNeill