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'Catch Me If You Can' Set For Next Month

By RENALDO DORSETT Sports Reporter rdorsett@tribunemedia.net A STAPLE on the local sloop sailing calendar, the silver jubilee anniversary of the St Valentine's Day regatta will be postponed due to a conflict with the opening ceremonies for the new national stadium. The new date for the "Catch Me If You Can" regatta is set for February 18-19 at Montagu foreshore. The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture will partner with Eleazor "Sailing Barber" Johnson to honour Sir Durward Knowles at the event as it celebrates its 25th year. The Lady Nathalie will have its customary headstart as the remainder of the field attempts to catch the pride and joy of Johnson, one of the sport's most colourful characters. Dubbed the "Super Bowl" of sailing in the Bahamas, Johnson said they are anticipating a grand time with the C Class boats sailing on Saturday. Last year also featured an Optimist competition between the junior sailors. Then on Sunday, the regatta between Johnson's B Class Lady Nathalie and a series of A Class boats is slated to take place. The objective is for the A Class boats to try and catch the Lady Nathalie, who as usual will be given a head start on the rest of the field. This marks the 25th year that Johnson has staged the regatta as previously stated but only two boats - the New Courageous and the Red Stripe - have been successful in catching the Lady Nathalie three times. Johnson said the regatta began as a means to fill a void in entertainment and the sloop sailing calendar during the month of February. "Many years ago as a sailor from the island of Acklins to Nassau, I came together with the late Hezron Moxey and others and we sat down and came up with the idea. In Nassau after junkanoo there was nothing to do in those days during those months. One year I thought about how we could take advantage of this. "We started with just a few boats and every year it started growing and growing more," Johnson said. "For 16 years, he [Knowles] has been helping financially and in every other way he can and the government came in after that. I have to thank him for everything he has done. Many times the money was not there and I would be able to go to him and he has always been there so we found it fitting that in the 25th year of the race for the Lady Nathalie, we honour Sir Durward for his contributions." Knowles, who will be honoured for his illustrious career on the seas and his contributions to sailing in the Bahamas, more specifically, local regattas. The event will feature competition in the C Class boats as well as the Optimist competition for juniors and the new E Class dinghy boats for spectators on the first day of competition on February 18. Then on Sunday, February 19, Johnson is encouraging boats such as the Silent Partner, the Courageous, the Tida Wave, the Sea Star, the Asue Draw Thunderbird and the Anna Nicole, just to name a few, to come out and challenge the Lady Nathalie. Johnson said he is confident that the regatta will be a very competitive one and he is encouraging all of the sailors to come out and join hands and sail in the regatta in harmony.

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