Some encouraging news from Bermuda that preparations for the the opening SailGP regatta of the 2021-22 season – the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess, scheduled for the weekend of April 24-25 – are able to proceed despite a strict lockdown of the British island territory in recent days.
A statement from SailGP today reads:
SailGP and the Bermuda Tourism Authority have been working closely following the Bermuda Government’s tightening of COVID-19 protocols to ensure that the forthcoming Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess, and the essential operations and on-water safety trials, can take place.
SailGP applied for exemptions to continue its operations at Cross Island and the on-water safety trials during the Government’s seven-day stay at home order, and today these exemptions have been granted for SailGP to continue to operate.
This includes the exemptions for the world-class athletes to have sufficient time to familiarise themselves with all the new systems that have been recently implemented on their F50 boats. These essential on-water safety trials and training, that are vital to ensure the safety of all competitors in the event next weekend, will resume this afternoon on the Great Sound.
Working with the Government, SailGP has drastically pared down its operational requirements over the stay at home order period, which concludes at 5am on Tuesday April 20. Measures include reduced number of people onsite to only those that are essential to finishing the preparations of all eight boats and the on-water safety trials, a reduced training programme from eight race boats to four boats, plus the reduction of onsite hours as much as possible.
In addition, SailGP is further revising aspects of its event programming next weekend to ensure a safe and successful event. This includes changes to its hospitality programme to comply with latest government protocols and the cancellation of the ticketed tour boat spectator experiences, refunded in full via Island Tour Centre.
To ensure the safety of both local residents and its world-class teams and support staff, SailGP has worked closely with the Ministry of Health, alongside other leading experts, medical professions and other major elite sports events, on creating and implementing a robust COVID-Safe Plan. This includes creating protocols for all staff to operate in strict designated bubble environments – which ensures absolutely no external contact – daily health reports and regular testing, among other measures.
SailGP CEO Sir Russell Coutts said:
“We are extremely sympathetic to the current situation in Bermuda and our thoughts are with everyone that has been affected by this terrible global pandemic. We are really pleased that we can return to our operations to ensure the safety of the event next weekend. We thank the government for their assistance and the people of Bermuda for their understanding.
“Bermuda’s ability to deliver world class sporting events while facing unprecedented circumstances has helped to position them as a leading global sports destination with an administration that is able to diligently and efficiently manage these difficult circumstances. We look forward to showcasing the island of Bermuda on April 24-25 and putting on a great show for not only the local community but also for our worldwide audience.”
Bermuda Tourism Authority CEO Charles H. Jeffers II said:
“Showing the world how Bermuda can navigate its way through a crisis is a valuable building block to a strong tourism recovery, particularly in the sporting world where the racing next week will be seen in 175 broadcast territories—including live in the United States on CBS.
“The Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess will bring a smaller economic return to the island than the original forecast back in November, but we still expect a healthy return from $5 million direct spending on-island and media exposure around the world.”