By RENALDO DOUREST
Tribune Sports Reporter
ANTICIPATION continues to build for one of the marquee sailing events of the year, featuring international and local sailors.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources, in conjunction with the Star Sailors League, will host the second annual Best-of-The-Best Regatta at the Montagu Bay foreshore December 7-10.
The regatta's aim is to showcase the best of the best in each sailing class - A, B and C - and also help to catapult Bahamian sloop sailing into the international arena. The event promises a family atmosphere complete with amenities traditionally associated with Bahamian regattas.
Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Renward Wells, whose portfolio includes responsibilities for regattas, outlined the impact that he expects the regatta will have.
"Last year's event established the bar for what regattas could be in The Bahamas and by every measure, we are on pace, by far, to surpass the standard set in our event, he said.
"We are confirmed to have more than 50 boats participating in the A, B and C classes. We have done our best to ensure that the level of participation lives up to the name 'Best of the Best.' I have spoken to quite a few of the boat owners and captains and will continue to talk to them as we prepare for what may well be the most competitive weekend of sloop sailing in the history of The Bahamas. I fully anticipate this will be a clash of the champions come next Thursday."
The regatta will also bridge the gap between sports tourism and local sports development, with the inclusion of the Star Sailors League which has hosted the finale of its circuit in the Bahamas for the past three years.
"Speaking of champions, I am pleased that we will also be hosting the year-end race event for the Star Sailor's League as well. Sailors from around the world have begun arriving and training in Montagu Harbour for what too will be a very competitive race. As a fellow Olympian and a proud Bahamian, I am particularly pleased that we will be hosting a number of Olympic gold medallists and world champions in this race. I thank Mr Robert Dunkley and the Nassau Yacht Club team for their work in staging those races along with the Star Sailor's League. I am particularly delighted to announce that our own Olympic gold medal winner, the 'Sea Wolf', Sir Durward Knowles, will be out to view the races."
Last year, 150 Bahamian sailors competed in 18 traditional sloops - A, B and C classes, and 50-world-class and Olympian star sailors also competed.
The winners of the competition in the A, B and C classes were Bahamian sloops Tida Wave, Susan Chase and the Whitty K respectively.
Placing second in the respective categories were Lady Muriel, Ants Nest and Sacrifice.
Additionally, sailors from 24 countries who are a part of the SSL also participated in the organisation's final showdown in which Team United States won.
The Star Sailors League has attracted the top Olympic and world-class sailors from around the world. The league has over 150,000 followers online and streams live from The Bahamas, which also exposes Bahamian sloop sailing because both events will be going on during those four days of competition.
"I have said and will say again that sloop sailing ought to be the national sport in the Bahamas and I will present as Exhibit A in this regard, a well-planned, well-attended 2nd Annual Best-of-the-Best regatta," Wells said.
"For the second year, we will be streaming our races to the world. Last year, according to data from our partners in Star Sailor's League, the week's races were viewed online by more than 300,000 viewers from around the world. This year, our goal is to reach one million viewers watching both the sloop sailing and the Star class races. This is a tremendous opportunity for the sport and the country in terms of our tourism product. The races will be seen on Youtube and our Facebook page "regatta desk." I am pleased to announce that the live stream will also be seen on www.bahamaslocal.com, one of the most visited web pages in The Bahamas.