Doyle Sails’ Mike Sanderson leads strong Cherub fleet for a dash in the Barfoot & Thompson Bridge to Bean

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Mike & Merrick sending it around the harbour Bridge before the abandonment of the Barfoot & Thompson Bridge to Bean in April – Photo / Live Sail Die

After a long year with plenty of cancellations and postponements of sailing events, including the cancellation of most dinghy racing until 2022, we can’t wait to see the 2021 Barfoot & Thompson Bridge to Bean take place on the 19th of December! However, we aren’t the only ones looking forward to the Bridge to Bean. There has been a huge amount of interest, and with only 150 vessels able to take part the available spaces are getting snapped up quickly! Sign up to take part at rnzys.org.nz/rnzys-events/bridge-to-bean-dinghy

The Barfoot & Thompson Bridge to Bean is a popular race because of the accessibility to most skill levels. Young sailors get the chance to test themselves against world-class competition. One of the most renowned sailors that will be on the start line this year is The Ocean Race winning skipper, 2006 ISAF World Sailor of the Year and current Doyle Sails CEO, Mike Sanderson.

Grassroot sailing is important to Mike and Doyle Sails speaking on how “the diversity of the fleet for the Barfoot & Thompson Bridge to Bean is exciting for everyone – if you are in your Opti and and 18 foot skiff World Champions, Honda Marine come past at 20 knots, then that’s pretty cool.” 

As most professional sailors have a dinghy sailing background, Mike sees the opportunity to take part in more fun races as enabling him and other experienced sailors, to hone in back on the basic dinghy sailing skills. 

“It’s also a lot of fun, and there’s nothing better than getting out there and taking part with one of your kids”.

“I used to do more than 100 days away per annum away pro sailing, so these last couple of years have been quite different for me with the ability to be able to travel being so limited. However, the time at home has had some advantages – the biggest one for me personally has been the time I have been able to spend sailing with my 12 year old son Merrick”.

Mike and Merrick will be entering the Barfoot & Thompson Bridge to Bean aboard their Cherub , which Mike has been instrumental in reviving in New Zealand waters. The choice to purchase a Cherub “was 100% driven on what would be a cool little high performance boat for Merrick and I to just go sailing in –  I wanted it to be fast, single trapeze, light, not expensive and for it to look cool!”.

Mike & Merrick sending it around the harbour Bridge before the abandonment of the Barfoot & Thompson Bridge to Bean in April – Photo / Live Sail Die

Whenever he is aboard the Cherub, Mike ensures that Merrick enjoys himself so he can pass on his expertise and his love of being out on the water. “There is nothing better than doing 20 knots down the harbour in a Cherub with your child wiring off the back corner, absolutely loving it! If we go out and win, and Merrick doesn’t enjoy the whole experience, then it’s a disaster in my view”. Mike does also get strapped into the trapeze, with Merrick as skipper as they enjoy summer evenings and weekends ripping around the Waitemata Harbour and Hauraki Gulf.

After getting his hands on a 1st generation Cherub through Trade Me, Mike realised “there were more people that this class could work for, and even though it had been extinct in NZ for more than 20 years, the Cherub still had a huge following and was dear to many people’s hearts” 

Since purchasing their Cherub in April 2020 and reviving the New Zealand Cherub fleet, the class is closing in on 30 boats in New Zealand and Mike couldn’t recommend them highly enough. “Cherubs are really nicely mannered, super-fast, fun, light and with enough ability to tinker around for those of us that do enjoy that side of sailing, and as long as Mum or Dad are a proficient enough dinghy sailor then you can get amongst it”.

With the expanding fleet of older Cherubs and the newly available Cherub flatpacks available to purchase, Mike is looking forward to getting a good fleet of Cherubs there, with as many families as possible enjoying themselves,. “Hopefully we get the conditions so that lots of other competitors go home that night, talk to their families and go ‘We NEED a Cherub!”

However, Mike and Merrick will be keeping an eye out on their fellow Cherub’s,  with a few friendly rivals that Mike wouldn’t mind beating to Bean Rock Lighthouse on the 19th of December. “Hopefully we can have some fun with Dean and Mia Barker, and Ray and Hugo Davies! We are all good mates, so it’s so cool to have your friends doing it as well with their kids”

We hope you join Mike and 148 other yachts of all shapes and sizes on the Bridge to Bean start line in under a month. With limited spaces available, there has never been a better time to sign up and become a part of what will be an incredibly fun (and maybe just a little competitive) dash down the Waitemata Harbour to the historic Bean Rock Lighthouse.

Register for the 2021 Barfoot & Thompson Bridge to Bean HERE

If you are interested in volunteering as part of the Bridge to bean aboard a RIB, please contact ljury@rnzys.org.nz

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