By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
Brothers Eric Jr and D Shane Gibson are making sure that the legacy of their father - the late King Eric Gibson - will live on.
For the second consecutive year, the brothers and a committee that includes their cousin Delworth Gibson and commodore Stafford Armbrister have joined forces with the Ministry of Local Government to stage the King Eric Gibson All-For-One Regatta.
The second version, which is expected to become a staple on the local sailing calendar to kick off the new season, will take place in Montagu Beach during the Majority Rule Day holiday weekend January 7-9.
“King Eric has been very pivotal in the organisation of regattas throughout the country, so we expect the sailing community and the public to come out and support this event,” said Shane Gibson, minister of labour and national insurance and Member of Parliament for Golden Gates. “The last one was very successful. We had literally thousands of Bahamians come out and show their support for the All for One Regatta.”
Eric Jr, the proprietor of the Bahama Grill Restaurant where the press conference took place, said they are anticipating around 30 boats to compete in the A, B and C classes when three races will be held in a series over the three days of competition. He anticipated that the regatta will once again provide the biggest cash purse ever distributed to the local sailors.
“We are looking forward to a very successful regatta,” said Eric Jr, who serves as the chairman of the organising committee. “We’re looking to take it to the next level, making it more successful than the last one.”
He noted that because of the way they organised the regatta last year and distributed the funds to the sailors, they are looking forward to a more structured regatta this year. He noted that all of the local sailing organisations have pledged their support and so they anticipate the sailing community will continue to show their respect for their late father when the regatta takes place.
Already, a number of persons have contacted the Gibson family indicating that they will be making the trip from overseas to be a part of the activities.
While the Ministry of Agriculture will be the major sponsor, Burns House Limited has also consented to be deeply involved next year. Cinda Gay, representing the ministry, said it’s a natural fit for them to lend their assistance to the committee, saying: “King Eric was a vital part of the sailing community in the Bahamas and we’re happy to be involved.”
And what better way to honour the memory of the late Gibson than for his three boats to win each of the divisional titles. Stephano Kemp, who was groomed from a young boy by Gibson, will be skippering the A class Bahama Grill, the B class Queen Drucilla and the C class King and Knights. He said they have a 99 per cent chance of winning the titles.
“King was my teacher from a little boy, so I’m honoured to be sailing his boats,” Kemp said. “We’re coming out in full force and we will represent King Eric to the best of our ability.”
Kemp, who has been at the helm of the boats for the past three years, said they are looking forward to the competition, especially from the Whitty K. Out of all of the boats expected in the regatta, he said that is the one boat that they want to beat.
Coming off a recent successful conclave for sailors, Stafford Armbrister, the new commodore of the Bahamas Boat Owners and Sailors Association, said they expect for all of the boats to help to make this another successful regatta.
“We just want to alert the sailors and boat owners that the rules that were revised for the National Family Island Regatta will be in place for this regatta, so we caution everyone involved to adhere to the rules.”
And Delworth Gibson, owner of the Barbarian, who will also expect to make their presence felt, said they are planning to stage a Boat Fair on Potter’s Cay Dock around 3pm Friday when the boats will be on display before they start competing from Saturday to Monday.
All of the boats throughout the Bahamas will be invited to participate in the regatta and for those boats that need some assistance in getting to Nassau, Delworth Gibson is asking that they contact the organising committee as soon as possible.
As for the onshore activities, Freddie Munnings and Ronald Simms are also involved in the planning and will be directly responsible for the music at the event. Not only was King Eric a sailing and golfing legend, but he was one of the premier entertainers in the country with his world famous King Eric and Knights band.
Eric Gibson Jr added that they intend to have a variety of food available as they look to make the regatta a truly family-oriented affair.