ANDREW BURROWS WRITES
From His Facebook post 26 April 2019
This is from a thread that I commented on. I had to share this with a wider audience. Chester Cooper raised the issue in the House of Assembly the other day, no doubt inspired by the fact that Exuma is hosting the 66th National Family Island Regatta this week.
Sailing will be our national sport and probably sooner than next year and for good reason. Full disclosure, I am deeply involved in making that a reality not only as a part of my job but also based on my conviction. Sailing is the ONLY sport that has social, cultural and economic impact on the communities where competitions are held. Basketball and track and field cannot even compare in those regards.
Socially, the sailing regattas bring communities together to host the entire Bahamas. Culturally, Bahamian entertainment is deeply woven into the Bahamian regatta experience. Economically, for these islands where races are held, the influx of domestic and increasingly, international tourists following the sport usually adds up to the largest money earning weekend for these Bahamians. Hotels are booked out months in advance. Rental homes are all booked out. Car rentals are booked out, often at premium rates. The restaurants on the islands are packed morning thru evening. Vendors at the regatta sites sell out many times over. Laborers make money doing a whole lot of things from helping set up the venues to assisting with boats and the movement of equipment and people. Again, there is no other sport that even comes close to making that kind of impact wherever it’s played. Basketball games and tournaments are often played in front of half empty gyms. Track and Field meets, unless it’s an international event and even then, have difficulty filling the stadium. That problem does not exist when it comes to sailing although it is a fair argument that the following comes more for the social environment rather than the sport.
That is where the work we are doing comes in. People need a way to see the sport as it takes place and to understand the strategies and what’s going on. Broadcasting it answers that question and we’ve done that and will be doing it again starting today on Cable 212 or 242.
Sailing is the only sport in our country where EVERY TIME they compete, different islands are represented. Boats are moved all around the country from islands all over this country. When was the last time you saw a basketball or track and field team from Ragged Island, or Acklins or Long Island or Black Point Exuma dominate much less compete? These boats have followings that are passionate and faithful. I don’t see folks moving around following their favorite basketball teams or wearing their tee shirts or, as in the case at Best of the Best, shed tears when their team goes down in defeat.
Sloop sailing, in particular, is the only sport that was entirely invented in The Bahamas in terms of the boats, the rules and the regulations for competitions. It’s also the only sport that has it’s own industry supporting it with boat builders, boat re-fitters and sail makers making their living FULL TIME off the sport.
I’ve traveled all over this country and I promise you, the Nassaucentric urban view of what ought to be is not what the rest of the country already knows. Sailing is how our people moved commerce, families and information around. In fact, our sloop sailing is so unique in the world, engineers from the various Americas Cup teams are in The Bahamas, on Exuma where I am now, trying to figure out how our sailors do it. Two years ago, during the star sailors finale, a team made up former world and olympic champions attempted to sail a C Class boat and sank it within 10 minutes. Sailing, more so than any other sport, should be our national sport and it should be and will be taught in more of our schools like it is on the islands.
By God’s grace, hopefully before this year is out, it will be.