This is the vision created by Bermudian artist Alshante Foggo, who has designed artwork for SailGP ahead of the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix later this month.
Two boats, gliding upon the sea, bearing symbols of local culture, are front and centre of the artwork, as the gold, white rays of the sun draw the viewer’s eye onto these iconic emblems.
The Gombey dancer, swathed in colour, performing that unique blend of African, Caribbean and British cultures, dominates one wing, while the second boat bears a Longtail - Bermuda’s traditional harbinger of spring, ushering in brighter days as the seasons change.
Founded by survivors of the wrecking of the Sea Venture in 1609, Bermuda’s heritage is sailing and the sea is the lifeblood of the island. The Bermuda sloop was developed in the early 17th century to revolutionize the design of sailing yachts, with the island soon becoming a key shipbuilding location and growing from there.
This sailing heritage is displayed in Foggo’s artwork, as the two boats are the foundations from which other Bermudian symbols rise. Sailing, and these other emblems, are the island’s history, but must also be carried into the future by the next generation of Bermudians.
Without sailing and the sea, Bermuda’s culture would likely be drastically different as the island’s history would have followed a completely different path.
One of these symbols rising upon the wing, the Gombey, also serves to shine a light on one of the darkest parts of Bermuda’s history.
Being located in the Atlantic Ocean, the island would never have avoided the transatlantic slave trade and the first slaves were trafficked to Bermuda around 1615. Gombeys were banned by slave masters so they wore masks to protest injustices done upon them, but as generations passed and humanity became more inclusive and accepting, the Gombey was established as a key Bermudian tradition.
SailGP, through our Race for the Future initiative, continues to strive for a more inclusive future and Foggo’s depiction of a Gombey dancer on a boat aligns with our view that SailGP is a sport for everyone.
While heinously enslaved on Bermuda, black sailors proved themselves indispensable to crews but it was many years before slavery was abolished and they became free men.
French-American writer Hector de Crevecoeur described enslaved seamen as possessing ‘enough ability, coolness and audacity to attack sharks while swimming’, while they also introduced African and Native American technologies to the fishing industry on the island.
Black Bermudians quickly established themselves as playing a key role in the growth of Bermuda’s sailing heritage, and their contribution should not be forgotten.
SailGP is a sport for everyone and we are working for a more inclusive future. As Foggo celebrates Bermuda’s culture and heritage with her artwork, we engage with the next generation of Bermduians to remember this heritage and ensure the sea remains the lifeblood of the island.
Black bermudians and white bermudians have combined to create this remarkable island, with sailing key to its development and growth from its founding to the modern day, and this partnership must continue - with the sea out there for anyone who wishes to honour their heritage while joining SailGP in our Race for the Future.
All Bermuda Sail Grand Prix merchandise - including pieces featuring Alshante's artwork - can be bought via Click & Collect at bermudasailgpshop.com.
Click & Collect location: SailGP Fan Shop, 29 Front St, Hamilton
Opening Dates: Tuesday, April 20 - Monday, April 26, 2021
Collection Times: 11am - 5pm