Gosling’s Rum Kicks-off ARC Europe Prizegiving & Fish Fry in Bermuda

Malcolm Gosling, 8th-generation of the famed Gosling family here on Bermuda, kicked off last evening’s festivities at the St. Georges Dinghy & Sports Club with a rousing rum tasting on the deck overlooking the harbor. Gosling’s is known for its Black Seal Rum, the main ingredient in the famed Dark & Stormy drink (Black Seal and ginger beer), popular now with sailors the world over. 

Mr. Gosling began with a brief history of how the Gosling’s ended up on Bermuda in the first place.

“My great-great-great-great grandfather – or something like that – well, he sent his son from the UK to the new world to start a wine and spirits company. They chartered a schooner for 90 days. Mid-Atlantic, battling storms and pirates, the charter ran out. ‘You’ve got two options,’ said the skipper. ‘We sail back to London, or I drop you at the nearest British port.’ Determined to make his father proud, the ship pulled into St. Georges harbor and landed with over 10,000 pounds sterling worth of booze. To the few thousand inhabitants of Bermuda at that time – who’d been without any sort of libation – it was like the second coming of Christ! Two hundred years later, and we’re still here.”

Mr. Gosling and his assistant Caitlin then served up samples of the various Gosling’s products to a very receptive crowd. Participants got the chance to taste the classic Black Seal rum, the relatively new Gold Rum, and the rare and expensive Family Reserve 20-year aged rum. And, of course, the sailors got the opportunity to purchase duty-free rum, which the friendly customs folks will deliver down to the Dinghy Club prior to Wednesday’s departure for Horta.

A sufficiently lubricated crew of sailors then proceeded downstairs where Brenda and her crew had been preparing the fresh-caught mahi mahi for the evening’s fish fry (only hours earlier, a local fishing boat had unloaded the day’s catch on the Dinghy Club dock, and the crew spent the better part of the afternoon filleting it). The tables were set and the crowd packed the dining area with what we think was the largest group of ARC Europe participants ever. A slideshow of the rally so far was projected on the wall, and cheers rang out from various parts of the room as folks saw themselves and their boats in larger-than-life size on the wall.

Following the dinner event managers Lyall Burgess and Andy Schell began the prizegiving proceedings. After Lyall offered a measure of thanks to the Dinghy Club, Commodore Lacy Jennings, the folks at Bermuda Radio, Gosling’s Rum and others involved in the ARC Europe event, Andy got right into it with the annual fun prizes. This year awards were given for Best Log (Anna Sophia), Best Luau Costumes (Reberth) and Last to Arrive, awarded to Athenea who after a delay in Portsmouth, VA to fix an transmission problem, arrived onto the customs dock only an hour before the proceedings began. They were given a big cheer when they berthed at the Dinghy Club.

Andy continued the evening with the competitive awards from ARC USA (1st place in the Bermuda fleet went to Ken on the Bavaria Kristy Sue, the only ARC USA yacht brave enough to take the Bermuda route home!), and the awards for the Portsmouth fleet. The custom Moxie 61 carbon-fiber catamaran Tosca took 1st place in the multihull class, sailing the 650-mile leg to Bermuda in only 3 days, and recording 0 engine hours. Mariposa, a Dean 440 cat, took 2nd. In the Portsmouth Cruising Class, the Hardin 45 ketch Persistent Lady took 2nd, while the smallest yacht in the fleet, a Pacific Seacraft 31, Tigerlily, won 1st. 

Lyall then continued with the BVI fleet awards. In the multihull class, the Voyage 400 cat Easy Rider wound up 2nd, with the Outremer 64 Malisi taking 1st on corrected time. In Class B (the smaller yachts), the family boat Morning Haze, a Hunter 410 took 3rd, Gertha 4, a Hanse 370 took 2nd, and Annettine, a Halberg-Rassey 39, corrected out in 1st place. In Class A (the larger yachts), Aurora (NL), a Gran Soleil 45, took 3rd, Ballytrim, a Swan 46, took 2nd, and Sparta III, a Wauquiez Centurion 40S took 1st. 

The evening got emotional when Lyall announced the new Brian Oatley Trophy, awarded to Sparta III for their 1st-place in Class A finish. Brian Oatley, a former commodore at the Dinghy Club and one of the biggest supporters of ARC Europe over the years (and in particular, the ‘yellowshirts’ that run the event – after the re-start, Brian used to take us out in his Whaler for some gunkholing exploration and to go swimming) sadly passed away last fall. His smiling face will certainly be missed here in St. Georges. The Brian Oatley Trophy, a replica ship's bell from Weems & Plath in Annapolis, will remain in Bermuda in the Dinghy Club’s trophy case and be awarded each year as a perpetual trophy.

Following Andy's inspirational speech on the philosophy of sailing, the crowd filed out of the dining area and back upstairs to the Dinghy Club bar where they remained for the rest of the evening, celebrating their achievements and unwinding a bit before the real preparation begins for the 1,800 mile Leg 2. 

It’s been a quiet day in the Rally Office Monday while crews do their provisioning and last minute safety check items. Newcomers to the rally Osprey, an American-flagged yacht and the Norwegian Defyr have now completed their safety checks and are ready for the leg to the Azores. They were warmly welcomed last night during the prizegiving. 10 lucky crewmembers were also given a private tour of Bermuda Radio this morning accompanied by Lyall Burgess. The annual tour is always a highlight – crews get to see the inner workings of the folks they first speak with on the radio when they make the initial approach to Bermuda.

The Skipper’s Briefing is set for tomorrow evening, and we’re looking good for an on-time start on Wednesday!