The Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources’ second annual Best-of-the-Best Regatta concluded yesterday in Montagu Bay with three new champions crowned.
After four days of competition, Stefan Knowles and his Running Tide took the A class title back to Mangrove Bush, Long Island, while Jeff Gale and his Lonesome Dove and It Ain’t Right carried the B and C class titles to Abaco.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis was on hand to participate in the closing ceremonies, commending Minister Renward Wells and his staff at the ministry for putting on another successful event.
However, there was no comments made, but many felt the regatta could have been bigger and better without the controversy that loomed over the A class and the PM Thunderbird.
As a result of the ministry’s decision to allow the Aliv PM New Thunderbird, formerly the banned Tanqueray, to sail, six of the top A class boats boycotted, leaving just four boats in the fleet.
In the end, the Running Tide walked away with $6,000 for winning the Best of the Best title, while the New Legend got $5,500 for second in a showdown between two Long Island boats.
The Good News out of Exuma finished third and earned $5,000 and the New Thunderbird and owner Rev Dr Philip McPhee pocketed $4,500 for its fourth place finish.
There were two Cup races sponsored by Paradise Games and the Running Tide won both of them, adding to their overall purse. The New Legend, the Aliv PM Thunderbird and the Good News finished in that order. “It wasn’t much boats. A lot of the boats didn’t sail, so we ended up winning all of the races,” he said. “It’s an issue that has to be sorted out in the near future.
“I understand the reason why they didn’t sail, but at the end of the day, we have to come up with an amicable solution and get it worked out. It ain’t good for the sport for the sports not to participate.”
Knowles was hoping to go for the triple crown in winning all three titles, but he admitted that in the C class, his Whitty K experienced some problems in the first race, but even though they got back into it, they couldn’t catch It Ain’t Right. “We’ll get them back next time,” Knowles said.
In the B class, Knowles said his Susan Chase was in front and they also had some problems and even lost a man overboard, but they still managed to get second place.
After winning the two titles in the National Family Island Regatta in Georgetown, Exuma in April, Gale said his Lonesome Dove and It Ain’t Right earned the rights to compete in the Best of the Best Regatta for the first time.
And he said it was good to come to the Best of the Best and duplicate the feat.
“It was fantastic. I like the elimination process. I thought it was pretty cool,” said Gale about competing in three races over the first three days to determine who will get to compete for all the marbles on the final day.
In the B class, Gale’s Lonesome Dove collected $5,000 for her overall victory.
The Susan Chase got $4,500 for second, Lady Sonia picked up $4,000 for third, the Tari Anne got $3,500 for fourth and the Lady Nathalie ended up with $3,000 for fifth.
The two cup races, also sponsored by Paradise Games, saw the Susan Chase and the Lady Sonia split the top two spots. The Lonesome Dove got third in the first race and fourth in the second, while the Tari Anne was fourth and third respectively.
“We performed exceptionally well,” Gale said. “The competition was outstanding. Our competition has always been with Buzzy Rolle and Stefan Knowles, so it was good to win over them.”
For her overall victory in the C class, Ir Ain’t Right got $4,000. Whitty K, in second, got $3,500, Bul Reg got $3,000 for third, Xena $2,500 for fourth and Smashie, Fugitive and Termite all got $1,500 for fifth, sixth and seventh place respectively.
Paradise Games’ cup races saw the Whitty K win the first one, followed by It Ain’t Right and Bul Reg. In the second race, Bul Reg won with the Whitty K second and It Ain’t Right third.
Buzzy Rolle, skipper of Bul Reg, said it was tough facing It Ain’t Right and Whitty K.
“We made a couple of mistakes. Against It Ain’t Right and Whitty K, you can’t expect to make those mistakes,” Rolle said. “But we’re fortunate that we were still able to come out with a third place.”
And even though he had his hands full sailing, Rolle joined in the controversy, saying that it was quite disappointing not to see all of the top A class boats compete.
“We all wanted to see them compete,” he insisted. “When you have boats like the Tida Wave and the Courageous and the Lady Muriel, they are some big losses.
“When you have rules, you have to stick by them. We have a guideline with the boats we have to stick with it. We just have to get it together. Other than that, the regatta went fine, especially in the B and C classes.”
Sydney Forbes, chairman of an appointed seven-man committee from the ministry, ruled unanimously that the Aliv PM Thunderbird was ineligible to compete, but Minister Wells over-ruled that decision and granted the boat permission to compete.
As a result of that decision, Forbes said the other A class boats made the decision not to sail in the regatta. Looking at what transpired, Forbes said he still feels they made the right decision.
“As far as I’m concerned, the Best of the Best has not proven to be the Best of the Best,” he said. “If you check the A class, none of the boats that competed, were not the top boats. “So yes, you had a series of races which you termed the Best of the Best, but in my opinion, it was not as good as it was last year.”
Unlike the initial event last year when all of the boats had to qualify to compete by winning one of the regattas held from January to October, this year the ministry opened the entry list to all boats that wanted to compete. As a result, the C class had a record 27 boats that competed.