A GLOBAL event held annually in memory of an Olympic sailor is set to help rebuild clubs and training centres hit by a catastrophic hurricane.

Funds raised through this year’s Bart’s Bash will go towards those affected by Hurricane Irma, the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation has announced.

The event launched in 2014 after the tragic death of Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson, the Olympic gold medal sailor.

Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been raised through Bart’s Bash which, in previous years, has been used to support the Foundation’s national and international projects which allow any young person, regardless of circumstance, to experience the challenges and education of sailing.

But after news of the devastation caused by the hurricane, which has claimed 20 lives and left thousands homeless, the foundation decided to refocus their efforts.

A message on the Bart’s Bash supporters JustGiving page reads: “Bart’s Bash, launched in 2014, is the world’s largest sailing event that is run by sailing clubs, community sailing programmes, sail training centres, yacht clubs, scout groups, sea cadets and even groups of sailors, all around the world.

“The main aims of the event are to increase international awareness of participation in sailing, and to raise funds for the Foundation to help support a range of sustainable projects, using sailing to improve the lives of children and young people globally.

“In light of recent catastrophic events caused by Hurricane Irma, the Andrew Simpson Foundation has pledged to use the funds raised through Bart’s Bash to help those affected. These funds can help rebuild and re-equip sailing clubs and training centres so they can continue to deliver community programmes.”

People have donated almost £1,000 to the cause over the weekend.

Mr Simpson, from Sherborne, died in an accident while training for the Americas Cup in the waters off San Francisco in May 2013.

Family and friends launched the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation, based at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, in his memory, and to encourage others to take up sailing.

The first Bart’s Bash set a world record for the largest sailing event in the world, and involved more than 11,700 sailors from 738 clubs in 65 countries.

Bart’s Bash returns this weekend. For more information visit www.bartsbash.com