Family Island Regatta, George Town, Bahamas
Last week in April
Each year, for four days only, the best sailors from every major island in the Bahamas converge at Elizabeth Harbour on Exuma Island for the National Family Island Regatta. During these four days, Bahamian sailors arrive prepared to sail their locally-built sloops for the much coveted “Best in the Bahamas” title.
The competition is fierce and the atmosphere is alive with excitement as boating enthusiasts the world over descend on this picturesque island in the sun. Since the first race held in April 1954, the National Family Island Regatta has grown in size and popularity. Today, although the race remains the main attraction, visitors are invited to participate in countless onshore activities including fashion shows, beauty pageants, weightlifting competitions, volleyball tournaments, and endless parties.
This festival certainly differs from its early days when the boats were smaller and the participants fewer. Bahamas RegattaIt was in April 1954, when about 70 Bahamian schooners, dinghies and sloops assembled in Elizabeth Harbour for a three-day racing event. The first participants in the event were excited to compete and certainly enticed by the reward offered for winning the competition. Unlike the boats you see today competing in the event, the first sailors in 1954 raced in the same boats they used to earn their livelihood. These working vessels were fast, but sailors realized they would stand a better chance of winning the prize money if they had even faster boats. This competitive spirit led many sailors to enter the race with boats crafted for speed in the second year of competition.
One of the early aims of the regatta was to help preserve the boat-building skills of the Bahamians, and with the prize money as an allure, Bahamian sailors were motivated to keep up this tradition. Today, the regatta draws top-notch racing boats from virtually every island in the Bahamas, all of which are categorized under one of five classes, A through E. Although the race has changed, the goal remains the same: prove yourself to be the best sailor in the Bahamas.
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