Bart's Bash: 'Andrew Simpson's passion for sailing is what we want to continue,' says Bryony Shaw

The event had raised over £140,000 for the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation

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The Independent Online

With the week’s racing almost over at the Sailing World Championships in Santander, several of Britain’s Sailing squad were out on the water only a couple of hours after making it to bed.

At least thirty boats, Finns, FX’s, 49ers, Toppers and just plain old yachts, were out on the water in the Sunday morning heat to play their part in ‘Bart’s Bash’, an event its organisers hoped would be the world’s biggest sailing race, in memory of Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson, Britain’s brilliant and charismatic Olympic champion sailor who was killed in an America’s Cup training accident last May.

Among them was Bryony Shaw, Great Britain’s leading women’s windsurfer, and a Beijing bronze medalist. “Bart was extremely close to many of our hearts. His passion for sailing is what we want to continue,” she said.

“Every time I’m interviewed about Bart it’s hard. We’re all passionate people, about sailing, and Bart was a very passionate man. It’s a very tear-jerking thing for me to recall, his personality, how he was, and the loss now he’s gone.

“But there’s the other side of it. He brought so much to the team, so much life. I had a very special relationship with him, so it’s important for me to be here.”

Elsewhere, all over the world, thousands of sailors were taking to the water, from Weymouth, Dorset, to Durban, South Africa, and New Zealand, Australia and the United States.

At Weymouth, Iain Percy, who won Olympic gold in Beijing and silver in London alongside Simpson, sailed with Freddie and Hamish, Simpson’s two young boys.

“It’s not just about the race it’s so much more and just the friendly atmosphere, it’s pretty special to be part of all this,” said Paul Goodison, also a gold medallist in Beijing, who was sailing at Weymouth.

“The biggest thing that strikes home for me is that it’s not just a UK thing. Bart was obviously a massive figure in UK sailing because of his Olympic achievements, but just the amount of friends he had worldwide.”

At least 6,000 sailors took part, including Sir Ben Ainslie, in a handicap system that on Monday morning will somehow work out who has won. “I cannot guarantee that the final ranking will be that accurate, but who cares?” he said. “It is meant to be a fun, inspiring day out.”

By Sunday evening the event had raised over £140,000 for the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation, a charity set up after his to help young people start sailing.