Tuesday, February 7, 2017

little farmers regatta

Farmers First Friday in February Festival

I was looking forward to the festival. There was supposed to be games and contests. I wasn’t interested in the wet  t-shirt contest but men’s best buns and men’s best legs sounded fun (please note: this portion is written by Barbara!). The crab races should have been exciting. However, we never saw any contests anywhere, just heard very loud recorded music interspersed with a few announcements, so the festival itself was not much to our liking.

We wanted to watch the regatta, but the rain deterred us. We did get to see the final race. It was announced to start at 3pm but didn’t start until 3 Bahama time, meaning around 5.  All the boats line up at anchor, sails down.  At the start they haul anchor, hoist sail and go.  They are called “C Class” down here.  I’m told the boat is 17ft long, full keel, with chunks of loose ballast inside, a very tall mast set far forward in the boat and a boom almost twice as long as the boat.  The sail is huge for a boat that size.  There are boards which extend far out over the water on the windward side.  Crew crawls or slides out on the board to counteract the force of the sail which is trying to tip the boat over.  In puffy air, the crew must move very quickly in or out depending on which way the boat is tipping.  When the boat tacks, the crew must move back into the boat, stay out of the way, duck under the very low boom, and move the board across so it sticks out the other side.  Oft times when the boat heels over, the end of the boom and some of the sail end up in the water.  Some cruisers were invited to crew on a few of the boats.  I spoke to one who said he was glad he did it, would never do it again, and was still hoping his  back would get better 4 days later.

The course was windward, leeward, windward, leeward, reach to the finish through the anchored cruising boats in front of Ty’s bar and restaurant.  Ty’s was overrun with folks both Bahamian and cruiser.  In a previous race, one of the race boats caught its sail on the bow of an anchored cruising boat and created a little mayhem.

One race boat capsized and sank at the first leeward rounding.  That created an additional hazard for the rest. One boat was skippered by a non-smoking, non-drinking pastor who reportedly could out cuss a sailor in tight quarters.

Sailboat racing is a big deal here.  Probably over half the race boats were shipped in on one of the mail boats which had been chartered for the regatta.  Craning them off of and back onto the big boat was an interesting process.

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