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Continuing the 61-Year-Old Tradition –

The National Family Island Regatta of the Bahamas By Jan Pehrson Cover: Class C sloops.

“W

e do things differently around here,” Danny Strachan, commodore of the National Family Island Regatta, told me patiently. “You’ll learn.” I have always wanted to visit the Bahamas. When my cruising friends Steve and June Jones told me there was an annual regatta in the Bahamas sailed in slightly modernized, hot-rod versions of traditional Bahamian workboats, I jumped at their offer to join them. April 22-26 found me sitting on the deck of their Tatoosh 42, Wind Rose. Bahamian racing sloops sailed by, passing through the anchorage. The ship’s radio reported snow in Boston, while the ship’s thermometer reported 80 degrees. “What’s not to like about this?” I said to our shipmate, Ken Kramer. “I’m happier than a clam at high tide,” was Ken’s quick retort. The Family Island Regatta, held in Georgetown, Exuma, is the Bahamian sailing version of the National Football League playoffs in the United States. It’s all about hometown rivalries, community and family. It’s about sailing with your cousins against the families from other Bahamian islands—and coming together after the racing for some good times. The theme of this year’s 61st annual regatta is “Sloop Sailing – a Proud Heritage.” The vision of the founders was to gather sailors and cruisers in one place. To sailors, after the close of the lobster season, it was to make some sport. To cruisers who were in the magnificent cruising grounds of the Bahamas it was to witness one of the last working sailing fleets in action. There are traditional regattas on other islands in the Bahamas, but the Family Regatta is the original and the

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