By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
FOR the second consecutive year, international and local sailors will come together as the country hosts one of the marquee regattas on the portfolio for the festival season.
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 foreshore December 6-9.
Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Renward Wells, whose portfolio includes responsibilities for regattas, outlined the impact that he expects the regatta will have.
"Our planning committee's work is well underway as we are looking forward to the activities that will heighten public awareness of and participation in Bahamian culture and showcase sloop sailing for Bahamians and tourists alike.
"One hundred and fifty sailors from 24 countries around the world participated in the inaugural event in 2016. The international participants included Olympic-class sailors. This year we have built on that success," Wells said. "The public will enjoy intense competition among 10 A-Class, nine B-Class and 32-C class sloops, and 50 world-class sailors. We will again have Olympic-style sailing with live streaming via internet around the world. The competition is open to all boat owners and sailors and has already registered over 200 Bahamian sailors, hailing from New Providence, Grand Bahama, Long Island, Exuma, Acklins, Ragged Island, Andros, Cat Island and Mayaguana. I look forward to fierce sailing competitions, pageantry and vibrant, energised cultural entertainment."
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.
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.
Member of the LOC, Stafford Armbrister, said sailors from around the country will have an equal opportunity to join the fleet.
"There will be a qualification process and this year it will be done a little different," he said. "All of the boats from all over the Bahama islands will then have a three-race series. The final day the champions will be determined. The champions will advance to Best of the Best."
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, 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.
"We are grateful to the event's major sponsors, Paradise Games, Commonwealth Brewery and Janee's Uniform. I encourage other organisations to add their financial support to this cultural exhibition," Wells said. "I also thank all stakeholders and sailors who will be participating in the Sir Durward Knowles 100th Birthday Regatta, which will be held October 28-29 at the Montagu foreshore. Sir Durward has contributed exponentially to the sport of sailing in The Bahamas and the world at large. I also take this opportunity to congratulate Mr Gavin McKinney, who last month won the International 5.5 Metre Class Association's 2017 World Championships in Benodet, France. The Bahamas is very proud of him."