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Bahamas National Regatta celebrates 60 years in grand fashion
By Lindsay Thompson, BIS
Apr 22, 2013 - 8:03:16 PM

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A sailboat in Elizabeth Harbour in George Town, Exuma where the historic 60th National Family Island Regatta will be held April 23-27, 2013. (BIS Photo/Derek Smith)

GEORGE TOWN, Exuma - The stage has been set for the 60th National Family Island Regatta in which sailing sloops will take to the historic Elizabeth Harbour in competition and add another boost to this thriving economy.

Petherina Hanna, general manager of the Exuma Tourism Office, underscores the importance of the regatta to the local economy and the overall tourism product.

“This is a boost for the Exuma economy. You have the selling of food and other items from vendors at Regatta Park. You have car rentals, food stores and other businesses reaping the benefits. So economically, this is going to be an excellent, excellent boost.

So, from a tourism perspective, the National Family Island Regatta celebrating 60 years is a significant celebration. We are excited about it,” she said.

From April 23 to 27, 2013, not only will residents and visitors witness sailing at its best, they will also get a taste of Bahamian culture through cuisine, art and craft on display, entertainment from the Royal Bahamas Police Force Band, the Barretarre Performers, the Exuma Youth Marching Band and several renowned Bahamian entertainers.  

Some visitors had their pleasure boats docked at Elizabeth Harbour since November; not wanting to miss out on the activities.

“We are happy about the fact that visitors enjoy an event such as the regatta because it is also a cultural event. It is a celebration of sailing; the boats are made by Bahamians living throughout the islands. So this is a 100 percent authentically Bahamian celebration,” Mrs. Hanna said.

The Ministry of Tourism works closely with the national chapter of the Family Island Regatta and the Independence Committee because some of the activities are being merged.

The country is also in its 40th Independence Anniversary (July 10) and the Royal Bahamas Police is celebrating 120 years.

Danny Strachan, commodore and chairman of the National Family Island Regatta Committee, on the island to oversee final preparations for the event said 60 years is a tremendous milestone to accomplish.

An estimated 65 boats are expected to compete in the five classes which are A, B, C, D and E.  About $300,000 is being spent on facilitating the Regatta. The Government is a major sponsor together with a number of corporate entities and businesspersons.

“We have been able to meet our budget for this year. A number of our sponsors remained with us even though this has been a very difficult time financially throughout the country,” Mr. Strachan said.

Family Island Administrator for Exuma and Ragged Island Theophilus Cox viewed the Regatta as a source of economic income for the island, an avenue of keeping families together, meeting people from the other islands and visitors and a prime opportunity to attract potential investors.

“Sixty years is a lifetime for a lot of people and special efforts are being made to honour those who made contributions to the development of the island and that is excellent,” Mr. Cox said.

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