NASSAU, The Bahamas — Sustainable measures to keep sloop sailing alive in The Bahamas are underway, as local professional sailors convened this weekend to discuss how to strengthen support for the Bahamian sporting tradition.
In opening the 2015 Regatta Conclave on Friday, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works and Urban Development the Hon. Philip Davis suggested involving more young people in sailing, and exposing the unique Bahamian experience of sloop sailing to a larger proportion of the tourism market as strategies for sustaining the sport.
Under the theme, “Building a Stronger Bahamas Through Well-Organized Regattas,” the regatta conclave at Melia Nassau Beach Resort was presented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources and attended by sailors and other stakeholders. Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources the Hon. V. Alfred Gray also delivered remarks.
The Deputy Prime Minister said: “Please allow me to express my gratitude and appreciation to all of you for the contributions made to the sport of sloop sailing and your assistance in maintaining it as a vital part of our Bahamian culture and heritage.
“It is documented by Howland Bottomley that the sport of Regatta competitions was first formally introduced in 1954, when a small group of Bahamian and American yachtsmen conceived an idea of holding a regatta for Bahamian working sailing craft.”
DPM Davis said they felt a regatta would foster camaraderie, and more importantly, improve the condition of the working fleets as many of them were in disrepair. He added that what began as a competition in 1954 is now, 61 years later, a sporting event that all Bahamians can relate to and enjoy.
“The impact of regattas continues to foster camaraderie and infuse the economies of our Family Island communities. I am advised that this Regatta Conclave… will focus on providing strategies and recommendations that will ensure the continued existence and improved management of regattas,” said DPM Davis.
“I note also that information will be provided on the potential and advantages of teaching young Bahamians the skill of sailing. It has been proven that young people involved in sailing also acquired enhanced discipline, sense of responsibility, teamwork, self-reliance, alertness, courage and an appreciation for nature and our environment.”
DPM Davis said that Agriculture & Marine Resources Minister, the Hon. V. Alfred Gray, had mentioned the international touristic potential of regattas.
“I hope that through the intervention provided by the Ministry of Tourism at this conclave, you will formulate meaningful approaches to allow regattas to tap our five million tourists who come to The Bahamas seeking a unique Bahamian experience.
“It is important that you, as stakeholders, chart the way forward to ensure that by 2020, The Bahamas would be able to host an internationally- renowned regatta at the highest professional level, starting not on Bahamian time, but on time, with well clad sailors and captains, with appointed vessels, and a large cadre of well-trained and competent race coordinators.”
DPM Davis concluded with saying that in his capacity as the representative for three Family Islands, he has a vested interest for the improvement of regattas and their better planning and management.
“I wait in anticipation of the results of your conclave so that I may monitor the improvements in the upcoming Cat Island Regatta slated for the Emancipation holiday weekend. It gives me great pleasure to declare the 2015 Regatta Conclave officially opened,” he said.