By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
ALTHOUGH Hurricane Andrew destroyed what was considered the mecca hub for sailing in Morgan’s Bluff, North Andros, organisers are still committed to hosting the All-Andros Regatta.
The regatta, which got started 24 years ago by a quartet of men including the Rev. Dr Philip McPhee, Sir Durward Knowles, Eleazor ‘the Sailing Barber’ Johnson and the late King Eric Gibson, is scheduled for July 6-9.
Snacked right in the middle of the celebrations of the country’s 44th Independence celebrations, the regatta will showcase around 21 boats in the A, B and C classes and promises to be bigger and better than the previous year.
“After suffering a devastating hurricane and the regatta village was destroyed, it wasn’t looking good for us to have this regatta and it was to be postponed,” said Carlton Bowleg, the Member of Parliament for North Andros and the Berry Islands.
“As the Member of Parliament and the Minister responsible for Agriculture and Marine Resources (Rendward Wells), we decided that this was not going to stop what was going on because the people are indeed looking for something to uplift their spirits.”
Bowleg, the Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources, said the regatta will definitely help to bring the community together gain.
Bernard Evans, the chairman of the All Andros Regatta said that after the destruction of the hurricane, they had to rebuild the site to get ready for the regatta, which
“This is being dubbed a Homecoming Regatta and so we are appealing to all Androsians to come home and enjoy the extended weekend with Monday, July 10, a public holiday,” he said.
“This is the largest contingent of A class boats participating, including a boat that haven’t been on the water for some 30 years. The boat will be representing Andros and will be competing against boats from Long Island, Exuma and Andros and so we want to defend Andros. We have one A class and a number of C class boats competing.”
The Rev. Dr. Philip McPhee, a native from Andros, will be making his maiden voyage with the refurbished PM Thunderbird, which he has promised will be the boat to watch during the regatta.
The PM Thunderbird will be compete against the Legend, Red Stripe, Ed Sky, Good News and the Southern Cross in the A class.
The Susan Chase, Eudeva, Ants Nest, Cobra, Barbarian and Blue Shadow will make up the field in the B class. The C class will include the Sacrifice, Sweet Island Gal, Lady Margaret, Dream Girl, Barbarian II, Revelations, Aliv WG Thunderbird and Melba B.
“We’re glad that we have about 4-5 boats from Andros participating,” McPhee stressed. “We are encouraging more Androsians to start building boats so that they can give birth and asset to the regatta in Andros.”
Evans said the regatta will provide and opportunity for the boats to qualify to compete in the Best of the Best sailing extravaganza from December 4-8 in Montagu Bay where they will compete for hefty cash prizes.
The regatta, with sailing taking place all day on Friday and Saturday, will provide a series of activities for Bahamians and visitors alike from all walks of life to enjoy.
Evans revealed that Thursday, July 6 would be ‘Old School Night’ when the Playhouse DJ’s and Article Soundz will head the list of entertainers.
The opening of the regatta will be held on Friday, July 7 with Tru Story, Bahamian Trea, Fadda Fred, Spicy D, MDeez, DMac and the Driftwood band all in the spotlight.
Saturday, July 8 will be an all-day beach picnic at the regatta site, followed by the closing and awards presentation. Among the stars performing will be Baha Chic Fashion Show, featuring styles by Raquel’s Creations, Bodine, Bantangy and Stillet.
Powder Fete Reloaded, hosted by DJ Fresh, will perform on Sunday leading into the ecumenical service and official flag raising ceremony at midnight.
“It’s going to be bigger and better than last year and those who were present last year, will know that it was better than the year before,” Evans said.
“We have a proven record now that the regatta is coming back at full strength and now with our very own minister making his appeal, we hope that everybody will come out and support the regatta this year.”
McPhee said 25 years ago when the regatta was conceived by himself, Sir Durward Knowles, Eleazor Johnson and King Eric Gibson on the advise from then Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Algernon Allen, who gave the consent for the regatta to begin.
“We brought about 15-20,000 people to Andros that year. Every hour on the hour, a boat came with over 5-700 people,” McPhee reflected. “It was certainly a moving majestic opportunity for Andros to come alive.
“We’re proud that it continues now under Bernard Evans, who has done an outstanding job as the chairman. Later on, the excitement of Andros died, but since Evans came back on board, new life came back into the All-Andros Regatta.”
McPhee said the sailors are all committed to working with the regatta committee in relighting the flame that exhaled in the past and they are expecting for a large number of persons, including those from the United States, coming in for the regatta.