DARING FEAT: 70-year-old Gavin to attempt sail-a-thon from Exuma to Nassau

ON THE HIGH SEAS: Sailor Gavin McKinney and crew in action.

ON THE HIGH SEAS: Sailor Gavin McKinney and crew in action.


Senior Sports Reporter



GAVIN McKinney displaying one of the laser boats at the Nassau Yacht Club.

HE has sailed around the world in so many regattas, but Gavin McKinney has decided to try something that he has never done before and that is to sail from Exuma to Nassau in a 14-foot Laser boat.

His daring feat at the age of 70 will be attempted either at the end of the month or the early part of March in a bid to raise more than $70,000 for the Bahamas National Sailing Club.

When asked why he has decided to take on this voyage, which is expected to last about six hours, McKinney simply stated: “The kids. It’s all about raising the funds to assist the kids.”

McKinney said the idea came up while he was indulging in some “alcohol” with his friends at the Nassau Yacht Club, but he felt he could attract attention to raise the awareness for children who would not otherwise have the opportunity to pursue his dreams and aspirations as an amateur sailor.

“A year ago, I decided to look at doing this sail-a-thon,” he pointed out. “Everybody said yeah, it’s a good idea, but no one really paid attention. In about November, I said if we’re going to do this, we better get sailing now.”

Since then, McKinney said he’s been encouraging his friends to donate and now they are aiming at corporate Bahamas to come on board and to make a contribution as well.

“Weather depending, the ideal breeze would be about 15-18 miles per hour,” he said as he tried to explain the logistics of the event. “We will have a main boat and then several support boats to follow and we will sail from Exuma to Nassau.”

The journey is expected to begin somewhere near Highborne Cay in the Exumas and travel to Montagu Beach in Nassau adjacent to the Nassau Yacht Club, which along with the Nassau Sailing Club, share in the national youth sailing programme.

Although he’s known as a filmmaker, McKinney said his heart has always been in sailing and there’s no better way to merge the two to develop an excellent script made directly for television.

“We will be sailing between 37-40 miles, depending on where we start from and where we start from will be determined by the wind direction,” McKinney revealed.

“We will leave early in the morning, hopefully, and get here before dark.”

In all of his lifetime, McKinney said he’s never heard of any Bahamian to attempt to take on such a venture, although Jeremy Knowles was daring as a swimmer to swim from Exuma to Nassau a few years ago. “I’ve never done it, but I’ve spent a whole day in a boat. This will be a little more strenuous, but that’s why I want to do it while I’m 70 and not 80,” he quipped.

As a supporter of the Bahamas National Sail- ing Club, working with the children from the government schools in particular,

McKinney said the funds raised will be used for the future development of the programme, including a vibrant “Learn to Sail” summer programme and maintenance of the equipment that they use.

“They need to be a part of the whole programme, learning how to sail the boats and to take care of them and not abuse them,” he stated.

In preparation for this venture, McKinney said he’s swimming a lot, trying to keep his upper body in tip-top shape and because he’s been sailing for such a long time, he hopes to utilise the skills he has developed to accomplish the feat.

Despite his age, McKinney said retirement isn’t something that he will announce, but when it does happen, he will probably be deceased because he’s still actively involved in regattas, both locally and internationally.

An active sailor, competing in at least four regattas a year, McKinney said the highlight of his career would have taken place in 2017 when he and two crew members won the World Championships in a three-man boat in Bénodet, France.

McKinney will return to France later this year for another appearance at the World Championships. He’s not sure if he will have the same crew, but he hopes to be a force to reckon with.

But, in the meantime, McKinney said the emphasis is on making his contribution to the Bahamas National Sailing Club by raising some $70,000 as a 70-year-old sailing from Exuma to Nassau in a few weeks time.


truetruebahamian 5 months ago

Good on you, McKinney!

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