News Release: Hamilton, Bermuda – It is with a sense of excitement and at the same time relief that the West End Sailboat Club, originators and organisers of the Annual Distance Comet Race, look forward to next Monday, June 17, 2019, when Bermuda will celebrate National Heroes Day and the 75th Long Distance Comet Race will take place.

Although the first Long Distance Race took place on May 20, 1944, the Race was subsequently moved to what was the Queen’s
Birthday Holiday, and is now National Heroes Days.
That first Race in 1944 had twelve (12) boats in the fleet. This year, the 75th Annual Edward Cross Long Distance Comet Race has surpassed that number and will host sixteen (16) boats. The Race will start from West End Sailboat Club (WESC) at 11am and travel down the North Shore, ending in St George’s Harbour at East End Mini Yacht (EEMYC).
Participants in this year’s Race will include last year’s winning skipper – Malcolm Smith, sailing for WESC, in his boat SUMMER, as well as the winningest skipper in the Race so far, Stevie Dickinson, from EEMYC, in his boat KITTYHAWK.
Stevie has won the Race 20 times, beginning in 1976 when he won the Race as a sixteen year old in his original boat, SCORPION. He won the Race in SCORPION six times before he purchased the KITTYHAWK from Alton Milton, one of the original members of East End Mini Yacht Club. Alton Millet won the Long Distance Race 10 times in the KITTYHAWK from 1955 to 1983 and Stevie Dickinson has won the Race 14 times in the KITTYHAWK from 1992 to 2017.
In addition to the 75th Race itself, all three clubs who participate in the Race – West End Sailboat Club, Mid Atlantic Boat and Sports Club (MABSC) and East End Mini Yacht Club, are hosting a number of events to celebrate this 75th Race.
The celebrations start off at EEMYC on Thursday, June 13, starting at 6pm when there will be an interactive discussion about African Bermudian Maritime History.
Bermudians were involved in all aspects of the maritime industry long before the Long Distance Race. In fact 100 years exactly before the first Long Distance Race in 1944, in early 1844 the first yacht club in Bermuda – the Bermuda Native Yacht was formed by a number of African Bermudians.
The focus of the interactive discussion on Thursday will be on history from the Bermuda Native Yacht Club to the Edward Cross Long Distance. Persons are invited to come out and share their families’ stories of Bermudians and the sea.
On Friday, June 14, the WESC will host a Members Social, when all members of all 3 clubs, not just the sailors, are invited to WESC to enjoy an evening of music and fun. This is an opportunity for members from all 3 clubs, who may not know each other to get together.
On Saturday, the MABSC will host a Children’s Day from 12noon – 5pm. Families are invited to come with their children to enjoy bouncy castles, games and food. There is no entry fee and children will be treated to hot dogs, hamburgers and drinks free of charge while adults will be required to purchase their food. The Bar will be closed for duration of the event, opening again once the event is over.
On Sunday there is a very special Memorial Service at WESC starting at 9am. All sailing clubs in Bermuda have been invited to participate and send representatives to this special service which will honour all sailors who have passed. A cod fish breakfast will be on sale after the service.
Then on Monday there will be the 75th Annual Edward Cross Long Distance Comet Race starting from WESC at 11am ending at EEMYC.
In honour of those older members who got the clubs up and running, some of the older members have been asked to participate in the management of this year’s Race.
Mr Colin Pearman, a long standing member of the WESC will be this year’s Official Starter of the Race.
Mr Pearman participated in the Race a number of times in the 1960s. In fact in the 1964 Race, he sailed in his boat, the ORIEL, which he built himself. He indicated that many of the men in that era built and sailed their own Comet boats, not only to participate in the Race but to use socially and also for work.
Mr Warren Foggo Jr, father of Heath Foggo, of the EEMYC, was another another Comet sailor who built his own boat and also built Comets for others.
Mr Foggo will present the awards at the Prize Presentation which takes place at EEMYC at the end of the Race, around 3pm.
At the completion of the Race there will be food, entertainment, music at the EEMYC and all persons are invited to come down and enjoy the festivities that will take place.
The Race organisers would like to thank the various organisation in the community that have supported this year’s Race. Caesar’s Pharmacy, who for the third year running, will supply the kit for the sailors – the tee shirts and hats in the club colours and their gear bags. Bermuda Healthcare Services who for the second year have supplied towels and special water bottles for the sailors and this year Barritts is supplying water for each of the sailors.
There was a competition among middle school students to produce the special 75th anniversary Long Distance Race logo and special thanks go to the Bermuda Sloop Foundation who hosted the reception for winners of the competition on board the Spirit of Bermuda.
Thanks to Green Light Café provided the refreshments for the reception and to Barritts who also provided drinks on the day. Thanks also to the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs for the event flags that the clubs will be able to use for future Long Distance Races also.
This year’s Race has proved to be an opportunity to bring the clubs and the community together in a very special way as this Race honours and celebrates those members of the various clubs who have worked hard to keep this Race going for this its 75th
year.
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