Gavin McKinney completes sail from Exuma to Nassau

GAVIN McKinney coming off the boat.

GAVIN McKinney coming off the boat.


Gavin McKinney flanked by supporters on his return home.


Chief Sports Editor


GAVIN McKinney was hoping for much better conditions, but he still managed to complete his daring fundraising sail from Exuma to Nassau in a 14-foot Laser boat in just over eight hours yesterday.

“The weather forecast was for light winds, but unfortunately, it got lighter,” McKinney said on his arrival in Montagu Bay shortly after 3pm from the journey that started about 7:20am.

“We had about three hours where it was very slow and frustrating. We were struggling to do five knots. We should have been doing about 7-8 knots, so it took a little longer. It was a little frustrating, but we got here.”

After composing on this journey to raise $70,000 for the Bahamas Sailing Association’s youth programme, the 70-year-old McKinney said they were contemplating when it was the best time and, while they went out yesterday, he felt today would have been better.

“Mother nature doesn’t play by the rules. We thought today would be okay, but it just dropped out and made it more difficult,” McKinney said. “But tomorrow (today) looks better, so maybe we might just go back out.”

With the mission complete, McKinney said he doesn’t have to talk about it anymore. He remembers sitting down at the Nassau Yacht Club with a few of his friends when the idea was birthed over a few beers.

“We can probably have something to come in a few years where we have a race or more people sailing together to build it up and get more people involved. That is my goal,” stated McKinney.

The jury, however, is still out on whether or not the fundraiser reached its projected target for the summer school for the students at a cost of about $800 per student, but as time goes on, McKinney said they will help to get more students from the government schools involved in the sport.

“The fundraising is about 75 per cent there, but we’re hoping to get some more,” McKinney said. “Money isn’t going to disappear. This is something we can spread out over the years. So we will have so many kids for the summer and just continue doing it every year.”

This year’s event, according to Ana Wassitsch, was a memorable one. Having been a part of the committee that was working on the whole expedition since November, said the journey was a lot slower than anticipated.

“If you go too fast, you get physically exhausted, but if you go too slow, your mind is thinking too much,” said Wassitsch, who was a part of the crew on another boat that accompanied McKinney.

“So we were trying to find a medium in there that is ideal for the sailor. So it was a little bit less than we expected. At some point, I wouldn’t say he was tired, but you see that it was very tiring. But the wind picked up, so we had to talk to him throughout the entire process.”

Once Montagu was in sight, Wassitsch said they had to encourage McKinney to hold on for the final stretch.

Among the other members of the crew that made the trek with McKinney were Peter Wassitsch, Kecia Francis, Andrew Higgs and Nico Maritz.

Already, plans are in the works for an encore next year but, in the meantime, McKinney said he’s looking forward to sailing in an event next month before he prepares for the World Championships in France in September in a three-man keel boat as he attempts to get back on the podium. But after completing the race from Exuma to Nassau, McKinney said he will take a hot shower and reflect on the completion of his daring journey yesterday.


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