Royal Yachting Association (UK) and The National Family Island regatta Committee (The Bahamas) pledge support for sailing as a national sport.

A yacht in The Bahamas

The sport of sailing in The Bahamas

The sport and tradition of sailing is what binds the archipelago of The Bahamas together.

British High Commissioner Tom Hartley said:

We were so pleased to bring the Royal Yachting Association (British Sailing) to The Bahamas to witness a historic event—the announcement of sailing as a National sport!

The National Family Island Regatta in Elizabeth Harbour, Exuma was the perfect opportunity for British Sailing and our High Commission team to learn about the tradition of Bahamian sloop sailing and to experience the homecoming festival environment that the Regatta creates. One of my trip highlights was presenting the High Commissioner’s Cup to the sloop Susan Chase, Long Island.

British Sailing’s visit was inspired by the long history of sailing in both the UK and The Bahamas and encouraged by the desire to promote strong ties in the fields of traditional loop sailing and international sailing. The sport of sailing has tremendous potential to create a diverse and inclusive environment that promotes physical activity, leadership and team building skills.

All sloops that participate in Regatta are Bahamian designed, built, owned, and skipped and Bahamian sailing attracts people from many islands and diverse backgrounds. A large part of British Sailing’s interest in coming to The Bahamas was to understand how to make sailing part of the cultural fabric of community – something innate to The Bahamas.

The British Sailing team, which included CEO Sara Sutcliffe, Sport Development Director Nick Scott, and Racing Director Rob Clark, observed the Regatta action from the water (it’s varied shades of turquoise and deep blue make it arguably the most beautiful water in the world), with Dallas Knowles of the Exuma Sailing Club who has been named as the new Commodore of the National Family Island Regatta Committee.

The British Sailing also witnessed the technical side of sloop sailing from anchor start to dramatic finish. High Commissioner Hartley said he ‘felt right in the action on our observer boat with commentary from Dallas and Tamara Knowles’ and continued:

We all had a brilliant time sailing on Lonesome Dove, which was arranged by Hope Town native Hon. John Pinder, MP, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Investments and Aviation.

The British Sailing had a history lesson with Captain James Wallace of the Ants Nest—some might remember this sloop from the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during last year’s Royal Visit to The Bahamas.

The British Sailing and High Commission team enjoyed watching as the tall masts and white sails of the sloops in the E, C, B and A class races sailed past each day. Many congratulations to all winners in each class—New Courageous; New Legend; Lonesome Dove; Xena; Captain Peg; and others.

‘The National Family Island Regatta Committee and Commodore Danny Strachan made us feel like one of the sailors and part of the Bahamian Regatta Family’ said British Sailing’s Nick Scott. We hope this will be the start of a beautiful international partnership in sailing.

The British High Commission were proud to host a cocktail party at the British Pavilion with dignitaries, government officials and Skippers. Jimmy’s Wines and Spirits was kind enough to put together a British spirits bar stocked with many beloved British spirit brands and speciality sparkling wine from England, which has the Royal Warrant.

The scotch was flowing and the event was graciously attended by HE Sir Cornelius Smith, Governor General; Hon. I. Chester Cooper, Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation; Hon. Wayne Munroe, Minister of National Security; Commodore Danny Strachan, National Family Island Regatta Committee; and Regatta Skippers.

The British High Commission’s mission this year is to bring Great Britain and The Bahamas closer together through sports, arts, and culture. The expertly organised Regatta festival made a major contribution toward those aims and the British High Commission looks forward to future partnership between our island nations in sailing. British Sailing has helped over 1,000,000 junior sailing learn to sail in the UK in the last ten years, and has the most successful Olympic sailing team of all time.

We hope to share this experience with Bahamian sailing and sloop clubs if they wish. The British High Commission is also supporting the National Sailing School with scholarships for their ‘learn to sail’ programme this summer in Nassau.

A special thank you to the National Family Island Regatta Committee, the Ministry of Tourism Exuma, the Family Island Administrator’ Office, and the people of Exuma for hosting our team at this year’s Regatta.

Published 26 April 2023