By W. C. Stevenson
20-knot winds and troublesome waves were on the menu again for the second day of racing in the RenaissanceRe Junior Gold Cup.
But despite the tough conditions, and capsizing twice, Bermudian Azhai Smith solidified his place as the top Bermudian of the regatta with a second strong showing, finishing the day in 8th overall. “It was blowing really hard out there,” said the 12-year-old. “I capsized twice, but luckily it wasn't during the races, just once after a race and once before. It was pretty windy, which I’m okay at handling, but not the best.". With only two years of sailing under his belt, Smith’s performance against some of the top sailors in the world has been heartening. While he was initially hesitant getting into the sport, his talent for racing has Smith pondering a future in professional sailing."It's great to be the top Bermudian in the field. My dad, he really loves boats, so he kind of wanted me to get into sailing. I wasn't quite sure about it at first, but I love it now.”
The young man will be able to compete in Optimists for three more years, but at the rate he’s growing, Smith said transitioning into another boat might come sooner rather than later.“I think I'm going to go into Lasers next and continue on from there,” he said.
The day’s racing belonged to the girls once again, as Mia Nicolosi lead the field for a second day running. The 13-year-old from St. Thomas overcame conditions not suited to her size, ending the day with two first places, a third, and a fourth place finish. "There's always room to do better,” she said. “The heavy winds are really tiring.”
Among those suffering the worst from the chilly, windy conditions was River Andrews, who is sailing in Bermuda for the first time.“I expected it to be really warm here, since it's a tropical island,” said the 14-year-old from Antigua. “I think I do better in heavy wind than in light wind, but I did better in the third and fourth race because it wasn't as heavy and I warmed up a bit. These kids are the best of the best. They're really difficult to beat. So you really have to try here.”
Andrews is in Bermuda along with his filmmaker father, Alexis, whose movie “Vanishing Sail” will be screening at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club tonight. The film follows one of the last remaining master boatbuilders, Alwyn Enoe, in the Lesser Antilles, in his race to build one last sloop and compete in the Antigua Classic Regatta, and hopefully preserve the art of boatbuilding for future generations.
Junior Gold Cup continues tomorrow.