Sailing named the national sport of The Bahamas
It has been circulating around the sporting community for a few years that a change for the national sport of The Bahamas was in the making, and this Wednesday, it came to fruition as a resolution was passed in the House of Assembly in favor of sailing.
Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs Clay Sweeting moved the resolution and it was seconded by the Opposition Leader Michael Pintard.
Sailing has been a part of the Bahamian fabric for many years, and in the golden jubilee anniversary year of The Bahamas’ independence, it seemed only fitting that the sport be elevated to another level on the national landscape.
“In 2023, the year of our golden jubilee, I am privileged to stand here today to declare this resolution that we move to make sailing the national sport of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas,” Sweeting said.
Regattas throughout the archipelago of The Bahamas have grown over the years. Sweeting said there are 18 senior regattas and 17 junior sailing events, annually, indicating that the sport of sailing is among the most popular here in The Bahamas.
“We have witnessed its evolution, and it is a sport that has won the hearts of Bahamians and the millions of visitors to The Bahamas. It is a sport that subtly reminds us of who we are – a friendly, maritime people who continue to make waves internationally by sailing with vigor and grace,” Sweeting said. “It exhibits the underpinnings of the Bahamian spirit. This has been a long-awaited announcement for Bahamians far and wide. Sailing has been and will always be a part of who we are.”
The sailing community is no doubt thrilled with the announcement, officially making the switch from cricket to sailing. One of those persons who has written to successive governments, ministers and prime ministers for the change, for over 20 years, is Commodore of the National Family Island Regatta Danny Strachan.
“I am proud and elated because I was the lone wolf for more than 20 years campaigning and crying out in the wilderness for sailing to be the national sport,” Strachan said. “I spoke to the current prime minister and he saw to it that sailing is now the national sport. It was one of my dreams and something that I had on my bucket list when I became chairman and commodore of the National Family Island Regatta.”
According to Strachan, the official announcement of the change will come in about a week at the 67th National Family Island Regatta in George Town, Exuma.
Also elated to see the change is Commodore of the Long Island Sailing Association Chester Fox.
“Sailing brings more people to the forefront than any other sport,” Fox said. “When you go to an organized regatta, there is always a lot of support. At the Long Island Regatta, the rooms, vehicle and flights are booked out and it is an economic boost.”
Fox hopes that the sport can be enhanced and receive more funding that will in turn give the boats more prize money during the regattas that will help with maintenance.
Strachan said cricket has its followers, but the switch to sailing is the right thing to do.
“Sailing as our national sport is one of those pillars of our country that should exist. It took us 50 years for this pillar,” Strachan said. “Cricket is attached to our history of being a colony of Britain. However, it is now time for us to have our own destiny and determine what our national sport should be and it is fitting that sailing be our national sport. I am extremely proud of this administration.”
For now, the sailing community will wait and see how much of a difference the national sport tag makes for their sport.