In May of 2017, McKenna Wherry and Abigail Clinger, two inspiring you women were selected through an application process to attend the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda and explore the best of what Bermuda has to offer in STEM education and sailing. Over six days and five nights the girls enjoyed a once in a life time experience provided by a partnership between US Sailing’s Reach Initiative and the America’s Cup Endeavour Program. The girls were selected based on their participation in the Reach Initiative at Edison Sailing Center in Fort Myers, Florida, commitment to ocean stewardship, and their outgoing personalities.
While in Bermuda Anne Hyde, Executive Director of Keep Bermuda Beautiful, a local non-profit committed to engaging individuals to take greater responsibility in reducing waste and eliminating litter, provided a local home-stay for Abby and McKenna and their chaperone. On Day 2, they began with a beach clean- up on Parson’s Island. Following the clean-up they arrived to the America’s Cup Village in time for the America’s Cup Match presented by Louis Vuitton and the Open Bic half time Regatta with youth sailors from around the world.
On Day 3 (Sunday) they visited the National Museum of Bermuda and then traveled back to the America’s Cup Village for day 2 of the America’s Cup Match Race Oracle (USA) vs. Emirates (New Zealand). Between Match Races 3 & 4, the America’s Cup Endeavour Program worked with RS Feva class to present a youth Regatta. Following the racing, the explored the 11th Hour Racing Exploration Zone. That evening the girls had the opportunity to attend the awards dinner & presentation to the Open Bic & RS Feva sailors. They met many new young sailors and made several new sailing friends.
On Monday, Day 4, the girls joined the America’s Cup Endeavour Program youth sailors and participated in a full day Blo’Kart Regatta. They had so much fun, they plan to try and bring Blo`Karting back to Southwest Florida. On Tuesday, they joined a Marine Biologist from the Bermuda Aquarium and a local class for an interactive snorkeling expedition off of Bermuda’s coast. The evening closed with a woman’s panel “Racing Forward: Taking Action, Creating Opportunties, Celebrating Success” featuring Libby Greenhalgh, Volvo Ocean Race Team SCA Navigator; Abby Ehler Volvo Ocean Race Team SCA Captain; and Nic Douglass, social media sailing personality – Adventures of a “Sailor Girl”.
Last but not least on Wednesday, (Day 6) the girls enjoyed some sailing on the Great sound with team Oracle USA sailing by. After six action packed days, the girls left feeling motivated, inspired, and grateful to the donors of US Sailing and the America’s Cup Endeavor Program for making this opportunity a reality.
Special thanks to the America’s Cup Endeavor staff for all of their hard work and coordination! Thanks to Jennifer Pitcher, Tom Herbert-Evans, Katrina Williams and the amazing staff you all work with. Thanks for making this dream a reality and for changing the landscape of youth sailing in the process. -Jessica Servis, US Sailing Outreach & Education