Racers and cruisers flocked to the Abacos July 3rd -10th for the 40th anniversary Regatta Time in Abaco. What started as a way to raise money to enter an Abaconian fishing sloop in the Georgetown, Exuma, workboat races plus boost summer tourism has evolved into a ten-day island-hopping event that draws both sailors and nautical visitors from throughout the Bahamas, U.S., Canada, England and beyond.
“We have what no one else has in the Bahamas: Dozens of gorgeous quaint islands, hundreds of narrow and wide waterways, pristine beaches, emerald-blue water, five beautiful harbor towns with great history—all just half a day sailing trip or four-hour powerboat ride over from south Florida,” says founder and chairman Dave Ralph.
Regatta Time in Abaco kicked-off with its iconic Stranded Naked Party on Fiddle Cay, just north of the first race start from Green Turtle Cay.
“Started in 1989, it’s a one-of-a-kind-party with over 2000 people, 50 kegs of beer, 100 gallons of rum punch and Jimmy Buffet music playing, and no one gets hurt … it’s a great day,” says founder and organizer, Bob Henderson. The power boaters make a weekend trip out of the party. They rent houses or stay on board and cruise around the islands, and invite more and more friends and fellow boaters each year.”
This year racing got underway on the Fourth of July. There were two classes for hard-core racers, spinnaker and non-spinnaker, and a multi-hull class too. One of the most popular is the ‘Mother Tub’ classes. These are usually family-type cruising boats, with relatives, bicycles, scuba gear and more aboard, with crews who possibly don’t have a strong knowledge of racing rules. The Mother Tubs race point-to-point courses.
“This regatta has become more of a cruisers regatta as many of us fast-boat sailboat racers have shifted over to the more relaxed cruising lifestyle. So most of the boats were entered in one of two ‘Mother Tub’ classes,” says Cynthia Wummer, who raced her boat Cynergy, a C&C 35 Landfall. (Not to be confused with the C&C 35 racing version.)
Four races over a week punctuated with a couple of lay-day parties in-between took sailors along a nearly 40 nautical mile route from Green Turtle Cay, south to Treasure Cay, Guana Cay and Marsh Harbour to Hopetown. In the end, it was Dennis Gordon, driving his Beneteau 49, Ice Man, who won the overall prize among the Mother Tubs.
“We have a boat new to us and finally got it dialed in,” says Gordon, who has raced the past five years. “This is a regatta where it’s possible to take a cruising boat, go race long distances, have lots of fun and be competitive too. My favorite is the Marsh Harbour to Hope Town race because of all the tactics needed going around the islands.”
A distinctive feature of this regatta series are the prizes: the original bronze figures like birds, fish, whales, turtles cast by a local artist Peter Johnston in his Little Harbour foundry and studio. These are beautifully mounted on driftwood.
This year, the Regatta Time in Abaco Race Committee established a new trophy, the Club to Club Challenge. In this, it’s the best three scores from any recognized club (yacht club, sailing club, boating organization, etc.) that wins this trophy plus bragging rights for a year for their club.
“I’m throwing down the gauntlet now on the Club to Club Challenge for next year,” says Gordon, who aims to claim the prize on behalf of the Halifax River Yacht Club.
For full results, visit www.regattatimeinabaco.com