Family Island Regatta 1


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Once every year, by the end of April, sleepy George Town, Great Exuma, comes alive and vibrant. A big national event is on: The Family Island Regatta. What a feast. Thousands of Bahamians from all over the islands and overseas come together for five days of party, family reunion, meeting old friends, making new and a few hours of sailing a day. Some take the latter very serious, but for most it's just part of the fun, island mentality. The sailing takes place in the protected bay of Road Harbour, where there is no ocean swell and only a small choppy wave can build. But the trades are blowing through full blast and windspeeds around 25 knots are more common than not.

Local crews are racing traditional boats, some of them still made of wood and a century old, but the majority are modern fiberglass remakes along the vintage designs. There are three classes: roughly 20, 30 and 40 ft length over deck. Our pictures mainly show the smaller ones, the 40 ft monsters with their huge main sails and up to 15 crew simply were too fast for our dinghy. There are three races a day but starting times are variable adjusted to the amount of hangover of the participants, so rather late. Course is the usual triangle, but often buoys are being moved during the race when the wind has gone up or down or clocked a bit.

Mostly they simply shorten the course but without big announcement. More than once we watched boats meandering around desperately looking for the next buoy. But nobody makes a fuss about it, it's all part of the fun. Races never last longer than 90 minutes, there are so many other things to do...

More pictures and a few infos about the history of this unique event - a little more seriously told - on the next page.

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