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Royal Hospital School pupil Sarah Davis makes history in Bermuda

by Royal Hospital School 5 Aug 2023 13:44 UTC
Royal Hospital School pupil Sarah Davis wins inaugural trophy for women's race in the Bermuda Fitted Dinghy © RHS

Royal Hospital School in Holbrook, Ipswich, is celebrating year 11 pupil, Sarah Davis after she made history in Bermuda as the winning skipper of the inaugural trophy for a women's race in the Bermuda Fitted Dinghy. The boats are a unique build and racing them has formed part of their heritage since the 1800s.

Sarah and her fellow team-mates aboard Challenger II sailed their way into the history books after winning the first ever all women's Bermuda Fitted Dinghy race in Mangrove Bay on Sunday 16th July.

Sarah and team-mates Pat Young, Alisa Bernardo and Macey Aicardi had their work cut out after not enjoying the best of starts. The fleet split heading up the first beat with Sarah and her team-mates on starboard tack and rivals Elizabeth II, Contest III and Victory IV all on port having broken away in search of fresher breeze.

Sarah's gamble not to follow suit ultimately paid off as she and her team-mates sailed into more pressure on the left side of the course and took the lead for good when the fleet came back together higher up the windward leg.

Sarah commented on the win saying: "It felt absolutely amazing and when we crossed that line my heart rate was so high, it was exciting, I didn't think I was going to win the all women's race because I had done one practice driving and we never flew the spinnaker or gybed, and it was also quite windy. I proved myself wrong when I won because there were great helms out there like Rachael Betschart and Paula Lewin, who is an Olympian. I was definitely shocked.

"We were last and all the other boats stacked off to the right. We kept going left while all the other boats kept going right and we just pulled something out of the left-hand side and crossed ahead of all of them.

"It was a wonderful feeling because we were not doing so well but we went left and it paid off. I am very happy and very proud of my team and myself for pulling it through and not giving up after starting in last place."

The new trophy is dedicated to experienced sailors and past Royal Bermuda Yacht Club commodore, Leatrice Oatley, in honour of her long-time support of Bermuda Fitted Dinghy racing and the Victory Syndicate and promoting women's sailing on island.

The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club were the first to compete in a Fitted Dinghy race with an all-female crew two years ago in Mangrove Bay.

Meanwhile, Sarah had double cause for celebration after also steering a mixed team aboard Challenger II to victory in the race for the Masters Cup.

"That one felt amazing because this was my first time driving and being useful in a fitted dinghy, so I was probably the most inexperienced in the boat," she said.

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