The National Family Island Regatta is held annually in Hideaways Exumas’s “back yard” of Elizabeth Harbour. This, the 61st running, was a blast. If you weren’t able to rent a villa or cottage with us—and we were packed to capacity!—trust this beachfront reporter to give you the lowdown.
As always, the Regatta greeted traditional sailing vessels, their crews, and hundreds of rabid fans from across the Bahamas and the world. George Town’s government dock fast became a street party, complete with food, drink, craft vendors, and people-watching galore.
The Long Island competition was again in attendance after a hiatus last year, and the arrival of Running Tide, Rupert’s Legend, and other boats from our nearby neighbor was cheered. Welcome back, boys!
Single-race Cup events launched the four-day festivities. The Prime Minister’s Cup for the largest, fastest sloops—known as the A Class—went to Staniel Cay, Exuma’s Tida Wave, skippered by Brookes Miller. The Governor General’s Cup for B Class went to Lonesome Dove from Hopetown, Abacos.
Next up, Long Island got into the mix in the three-race series running Thursday through Saturday. Class A boat Running Tide won the first two races to the line, but penalties kept her from taking the crown.
That left it to our Exumas boats to make a showing. Perennial favorite Tida Wave added an A Class series 1st place to its earlier Cup win. Great Exuma local Buzzy Rolle’s Lady Sonia took 1st in the B Class series, a nice follow-up to his C Class 1st in Bull Reg during the New Year’s Regatta up in Staniel.
Racers in every class—A, B, C, and the youth E Class—were challenged by light winds, as well as a more interventionist Regatta Committee than we’ve ever seen. A number of penalties were handed down, and some changed the awards outcomes, leading to vigorous debate that will likely continue into next year.
As riveting as the racing was a Friday night live performance by Bahamian recording artist Geno D, not to mention the impromptu fashion show walking the “runway” on the government dock. We definitely know what the Bahamas will be wearing this season!
Among the final events was the Nassau Police Marching Band parade. Despite rains earlier in the day, the skies cleared in time for the Boys and Girls in Blue to put on a show worthy of an NFL halftime.
For those who missed the National Family Island Regatta, there’s plenty more traditional Bahamian sloop racing left in the series. Long Island Regatta comes next in June. Consider a stay with us here in Exuma and brief trip over to check that out!