Little Farmers Cay Regatta
06 February 2023
The Little Farmers Cay regatta lived up to all the hype that had been created the last couple of weeks. Originally known as the 5Fs regatta, first Friday of February Festival, this year's regatta was sponsored by Bahamas Tourism and drew 22 Class C skiffs from around the Bahamas. The government has introduced a program to make sailing their national sport and they pulled out all the stops to help make this a very successful regatta.
The weather was warm and sunny as we hoisted anchor and struck off for little Farmers in a beautiful 15 knot breeze in flat seas. After a nice 2 hour sail we arrived off the beach and picked our way between 2 sand shoals and anchored in 7' of water in a prime spot to watch the races. However, before the racing started Friday we had 2 birthdays to celebrate, mine on Wednesday and Lana's on Thursday. Bev treated me to a great dinner at the Ocean Cabin restaurant on Wednesday evening, a perfect way to cap off a day of birthday celebrations. As a lead up to the 2 days of skiff racing the committee organized a cruiser's race on Thursday, open to any boats in the anchorage. We had contemplated entering Dagny but thought better of it, we're a long way from home and as we've discovered this year there are a lot of new inexperienced sailors around. Apart from one boat snagging and dragging the start mark for a few hundred yards the race went off without a hitch and the 8 competitors (4 cats and 4 monohulls) had a great time. Despite the perception that cats are faster it was refreshing to see the monohulls come first and second, hopefully this will encourage more sailors to take part in next years race. The cruiser's race was followed by a reception and buffet dinner at the yacht club which served as a kickoff for Lana's birthday party.
Over the years I have travelled to numerous regattas in Toronto, Kingston, Marblehead and all along Long Island sound, travel was easy, hitch Slim to the Shaggin Wagon, add gas and go. However, for the Bahamian sailors it is a totally different experience. For example, boats from out islands are loaded on the mailboat and sent to Nassau, then reloaded and delivered to Little Farmers Cay. High tide was 6 a.m. Friday morning and with it came the Nassau mailboat with music blaring and a load of skiffs. Once all the boats were unloaded and masts stepped they towed them around to the beach area right in front us. Racing was scheduled to start around 10 a.m but one thing we've learned is, it will happen when it happens.
The start of a skiff race is not like a normal sailboat race, these guys are anchored with the sails down and on the start signal they hoist anchor, raise the sails and go. However, there's lots of yelling as boats jockey for position as the anchors are set, and even more as the sails are raised and they get underway. It amazing how well these boats sail and the skill level of the sailors make it look easy, but it's not! The courses are set so that there is always one mark set just off the beach so the spectators can see the boats as they round. However, this makes for great entertainment as the skiffs wind their way through all the anchored boats often coming with inches of hitting one. On Saturday people were waist deep in the water, taking pictures less then 100' from the turning mark, quite the Kodak moments. Four races were completed over 2 days in ideal conditions, several boats were in the hunt however "Sassy Sue" from Long Island won all 4 races. Bev and I went ashore for the closing ceremonies and prize giving and were impressed with the pride and respect the people showed towards their political leaders.
Today's picture was taken by Bev as one boat narrowly missed us.