Return from Regatta & Sailing Video

Hellooooooo, Better Lifers! I’ve missed you!

Regatta was wonderful, and I’ll fill you in soon. Weather was pretty tricky – the same front that saturated Florida also doused the Bahamas. Thankfully, Mother Nature granted enough of a respite that the boats were able to race, but then she kicked in again and delayed our return by several days. Upon my return, I was greeted with a flooded downstairs in my own home. Thankfully, my visiting mother had stanched the tide. I helped with the cleanup and enjoyed the remaining days of her visit.

It’s also been hectic around here as passions run high for the Bahamian national election which takes place today. Campaigning has been at a fevered pitch. In this instance, I’m glad that I CAN’T vote and am able to remain peacefully neutral!

Now, I’m wading through 600+ photographs to cull them down to share the Regatta experience with you. Meanwhile, here’s a video treat . . .

Never seen a Bahamian sloop sail? Never been to a national regatta? Never bounced along in the chase boat in the heart of the action? This will give you a taste of it all!

I remain silent on the video, hoping you could hear the men calling out to one another on the boat. But, the camera didn’t pick that up – voices must have been carried away by the strong winds, which you DO hear. This was taken during a practice sail on the last day (Saturday, April 28) of the series race. It was choppy, windy and cloudy, so the typically-turquoise water of the harbor looks dark, too.

The chase boat follows along in case the sailboat needs anything. (E.g., switch sail size, add or remove lead ballast, etc.) Once the race starts, the chase boat can’t pass anything back and forth, but we stay nearby to follow the action and be available in case anything happens.

What you’ll see is a classic Bahamian sloop, all wooden hand-construction, 28 feet on deck, with a 60 foot mast and large boom, the largest A-Class type. The sailors are all Bahamian, except for the maximum of four foreigners. The man at the stern (back) is working the main sail and talking to the man just in front of him, the skipper who controls the tiller and captains the boat. The man standing at the bow (front) is the bowman, the eyes of the boat who calls back to the Captain what he sees so they can strategize. The other men have various roles, too. Most apparent in the video are the men shifting their weight on the pry – the long board sticking off the side of the boat – to serve as human ballast and make adjustments as the race proceeds.

You may notice that only men are on this boat. While that is still the dominant gender in Bahamian sailing, women crew sometimes, too. Our local C-Class boat even boasts a champion female skipper.

My favorite part of this clip is that it shows you how the sailboats tack, or make a turn. Here, the boat is on a starboard tack – the wind is coming from the right (starboard) side. When the captain gives the command, the crew slacks the sail, slides the pry to the next side, swings the boom over, catches the wind in the sail again and the men scramble out on the pry to balance out on the boat. This is a pretty calm tack. Sometimes it can be a fierce scramble, especially during a race if another boat is right there. Exciting stuff!

Have a wonderful day, and I’ll share more with you soon.

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