DANNY STRACHAN, chairman of the National Family Island Regatta, speaks yesterday during a press conference for the Best of the Best Regatta. Photo: Patrick Hanna/BIS
#By BRENT STUBBS
#Senior Sports Reporter
#WITHOUT any major regatta to skipper to accumulate points this year, the Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs has opened the field to include more than 60 boats to participate in the fifth Best of the Best Regatta.
#Minister Clay Sweeting and other stakeholders were on hand yesterday to reveal plans for the signature regatta, scheduled for December 1-4 at Montagu Beach. Sweeting noted that it’s the most anticipated event on the sailing calendar and this will be the best one yet.
#“The Best of the Best Regatta displays the best the Bahamas has to offer in the sport of sailing, a tradition that has been a part of the Bahamian identity for over 80 years,” Sweeting said. “This is significant because the government is endeavouring to make sailing the country’s national sport.
#“We are hoping to make this official by next year as we celebrate our country’s 50th Independence anniversary.
#“We expect this event will bring more than 20,000 Bahamians to Montagu foreshore to witness and participate.”
#Sweeting said the event will be televised live for all to see throughout the Commonwealth of the Bahamas as the boats in four different classes, including the E class for the first time for sailors under the age of 18, will compete for bragging rights and some hefty cash prizes.
#Having boarded a sloop on every regatta he attended this year as the minister, Sweeting said he understands what it takes to get the boats to the finish line, and he thanked all of the sailors and boat owners for partnering with the ministry in getting the sport back to the pre-COVID-19 environment.
#He also thanked the regatta committee for producing this year’s event, which will be unique in nature with a variety of activities for the entire family to enjoy each and every day of the regatta.
#He further thanked Coca-Cola, BTC, ZNS, Bahamas Evc, BAMSA and the Department of Local Government for serving as the major sponsors.
#Barry Wilmott, chairman of the Regatta Desk at the ministry, said the ministry will take the time out first to honour and recognise the sailors during a “sexy and attractive” event on Wednesday, November 30 with the Skippers Reception on the Pirate Revenge boat at sea.
#Sailing competition will begin on Thursday, December 1 through Saturday, December 3 with the preliminaries and Cup races, starting at 8:30am each day. Based on their performances in the Cup races, boats will get the opportunity to advance to the finals on Sunday.
#Entered in the A Class are the Good News, Ed Sky, New Legend, New Courageous, Original Courageous, Running Tide and Southern Cross.
#Eight B Class boats are entered. They are Ants Nest II, Cobra, Barbarian, Eudeva, Lady Sonia, Lonesome Dove, Ole Bay and Susan Chase.
#The C Class will comprise of 32 boats, including Sweet Island Gal, Dream Girl, Whitty K, Sassie Sue, Xena, Sacrifice, Miss Rowie, It Ain’t Right, Raging Bull, Slaughter, Lady Eunice, Whisper, Legal Weapon, Chasewr, Unca John, Patton Pride, H20, Cobra Too, Bul Reg, Irene Goodnight, Fugitive, Golden Girl, Confusion, King & Knights, San Sally, Queen Ex, Barbarian II, Melva B, Ashli B, Revelation 3:19 and Bearley Legal.
#E Class will be made up of Empress, So Fine, Miss Agnes, Lady Kayla, Mako, One Bahamas, 2 Brothers, Lady Zari, Bain Town Woman, Mama, Papa, Brothers #2, Capt. Peg, Judgement D, COVID-19 and Miss Beila.
#Wilmott said in addition to food provided by every settlement in the Bahamas and live entertainment all day on the regatta site, the ministry will be hosting a Family Day on Saturday where there will be a number of events, including a treat with Santa Claus arriving in a sloop sailing boat bearing gifts and treats for the children on the park.
#Caribbean Bottling Company’s marketing director Jonathan Thronebury revealed that through Coca-Cola, CBC will be launching the Bahamas Goombay Punch Cup, an initiative that was originally scheduled for 2020, but had to be postponed because of COVID-19.
#In conjunction with the Bahamas’ 50th Independence celebrations, Thronebury said the Bahamas Goombay Punch, considered by Coca-Cola as the official soft drink of the Bahamas, has placed six sailing sloops Tida Wave, New Courageous, Running Tide, New Legend, Southern Cross and San Sally, as the showpieces on the drinks from 2019.
#As for the Bahamas Goombay Punch Cup, Thronebury said it’s open to all A class boats with the winner determined by cumulative points totaled from three major regattas – the Best of the Best, the National Family Island and Long Island Regatta.
#The winner will be announced upon the completion of the Long Island Regatta in June 2023 and will receive $5,000 in cash prize. An $8,000 stipend will be presented to assist the sport for their island’s junior sailing club, and exclusive congratulatory Goombay cans from September 2023 until January 2024.
#Danny Strachan, the commodore of the National Family Island Regatta, said with all of the top sloops sailing, the competition should be very fierce.
#“As you know, the boats have been laid up for about two and-a-half years, so everyone is anxious to get back on the water,” Strachan said. “So, they have been very diligent trying to get their boats ready for the Best of the Best Regatta.
#“So, in terms of the competition, you certainly will have the defending National Family Island Regatta champion, the New Legend out of Long Island and the Running Tide out of Long Island. Also, in the B Class, you will have the Lonesome Dove, the national Family Island Regatta champion and you will have the Whitty K, the last national champion in the C Class. So, you will have all of the champions here to determine who is the Best of the Best.”
#Anthiniqueko Gibson, the CEO and owner of the BahamasEvac Services, thanked Sweeting and his ministry for affording them the opportunity to provide the safety services on the water and on the ground during the regatta.
#“We look to bring a number of dynamics in terms of aspects to the event that ranging in health care and pre-screening care for all ages,” Gibson pointed out.
#“We understand that we will have a category of sailors from youngsters to adults and the general as well, so we are happy to be a part of this event.”
#Gibson said they will provide dive rescue medics and a team on hand for the duration of the regatta so they can take care of any medical emergencies in a safe and secure environment and will provide air services wherever it is necessary.