Sailing community supports 'Catch Me If You Can' regatta

By BRENT STUBBS Senior Sports Reporter bstubbs@tribunemedia.net IF there's one thing that Eleazor 'the Sailing Barber' Johnson won't have to worry about when his St Valentine's Day 'Catch Me If You Can' Massacre is held, it's the support of the local sailing fraternity. A group of movers and shakers in the sport came together yesterday at the home of King Eric Gibson to throw their full support behind the regatta, scheduled for February 11-13 at Montagu Beach. In the 25th version of the regatta, dubbed "the Super Bowl of sailing" in the Bahamas, Johnson has decided to honour legendary national icon Sir Durward 'Sea Wolf' Knowles, who on Sunday was presented with a Doctor of Humane Letters honourary degree from Atlantic College. Rev Philip McPhee, owner of the Asue Draw Thunderbird, said they are extremely elated that the regatta is being held in honour of one of the greatest Bahamians that ever lived. "We're proud that Sir Durward Knowles has seen fit that his name is being used in connection with Eleazor Johnson's St Valentine's Day Massacre, which is an historic one and very popular event. "We want to thank all of the boats who have consented to participate and King Eric Gibson and Clyde Rolle. We also want to salute Eleazor Johnson for continuing this great legacy." Rolle, normally the skipper on Lady Nathalie, said for the past 24 years Johnson has been hosting the top sailing event in New Providence and he couldn't find a more deserving Bahamian than Knowles to honour in the 25th anniversary. "I can testify to that because he has been a tower of strength to myself in putting on our national junior programme, he has been our principal sponsor for the past 16 years without wavering. You just have to love a Bahamian who contributes like that to such a great sport. "As you know, it's a sport that has made him famous. He's the first Bahamian Olympic medallist and you can not say enough about this man." While Knowles has been considered "one of the greatest" Bahamians, Gibson took it a bit further and called him the "greatest" Bahamian alive because of commitment and development to sports in its totality. "He has been working with me when he didn't want the public to know that he's been working to get things done," Gibson said. "So I'm happy that we are getting a chance to honour and recognise this man for the role he has played." 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 11. Then on Sunday, February 12, Rolle is encouraging boats such as the Silent Partner, the Courageous, the Tida Wave, the Sea Star, the Asue Draw Thunderbird and the Ann Nicole, just to name a few, to come out and challenge the Lady Nathalie. The goal is for the B Class Lady Nathalie to get a 20-30 minutes head start on the A Class fleet and to see whether or not any of them can catch her. From the time the challenge was put out, Johnson said only the New Courageous and the Red Stripe have been successful in catching his Lady Nathalie three times. For the past 16 years, Johnson said, Knowles has been lending him his support and he thought it fitting to honour him at this time as he thanked him for allowing his name to be used in the regatta. He said he's confident that the regatta will be a very competitive one and he's encouraging all of the sailors to come out and join hands and sail in the regatta in harmony.


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