This year was a momentous one for The Bahamas and for the sport of sailing.
In July, the country celebrated 50 years of independence, and in April, sailing was declared the country’s national sport. There are 18 senior regattas and 17 junior sailing events each year. Of the senior regattas, there is no more significant event than the Best of the Best Regatta, which brings sloop sailors from across The Bahamas together to compete in the national sport.
From November 30 to December 3, the Best of the Best Regatta, held at Montagu Bay, drew approximately 200 sailors of all ages who competed for what was, according to Minister of Works and Family Island Affairs with responsibility for regattas Clay Sweeting, the largest regatta purse in Bahamian sloop sailing history.
As the national sport of The Bahamas, sloop sailing is highly competitive in the country, and seasoned sailors, especially those from Long Island, usually dominate the waters in the Class ‘A’ division. Sloop sailing is a skill passed from generation to generation, and regattas are a source of pride for those who represent their islands. The Best of the Best Regatta brings out the top sailors, their families, friends, and people who love the sport as Bahamians and regatta lovers cheer on their favorite sailors.
No regatta would be complete without the story of the underdog, and the Best of the Best for 2023 was no exception. This regatta was a spectacle of skill, strategy, and sheer adrenaline, with tough competition between Exuma and Long Island.
On the first day of sailing, the Silent Partner from Black Point, Exuma, captained by Leslie ‘Buzzy’ Rolle, was fourth. On every successive day, there was a rise in the order, leading the crew sailing Silent Partner to a surprising win in the ‘A’ Class category.
The story of this crew, however, did not make them the favorite to win.
In March 2023, a group of skilled sailors in Black Point pooled their resources to purchase a sloop called ‘Red Stripe’ from renowned skipper Lundy Richardson. Over the next few weeks, they worked on rebuilding the boat and bringing it up to the competition level.
The crew did not start sailing together on Silent Partner until April 2023 in the Georgetown Regatta, when they were still learning the boat. The next time they raced was not until August 2023 in the Black Point Regatta.
Between August and December, several crew members sailed other boats but were determined to sail the Silent Partner together. They practiced as a crew and put in countless hours of hard work because they were dedicated to the mission of not just bringing Silent Partner to compete in regattas but taking home titles.
In December, just eight months after their first competition as a crew and just four months after their second regatta, this group of passionate individuals emerged as unexpected victors, sailing their way to glory in the country’s biggest regatta.
In Black Point, the Silent Partner finished in second place. Since then, the crew has been determined to put Silent Partner on top of the podium and bring the ‘A’ Class trophy to Black Point. The passion, talent and dedication of these men is said to be truly amazing.
The Silent Partner crew represents something that is needed in society – hard work and dedication. These men are an inspiration, and the people of Black Point should be proud of this crew. They defied the odds, embraced challenges, and ultimately emerged triumphant in a sport where skill, speed, and sportsmanship separate the elite sailors from the rest of the pack.
The remarkable journey of this crew can be traced back to a love of Bahamian culture and sloop sailing – a shared love of many Bahamians – and the resilient spirit of the Bahamian people. With sailing now being the national sport, one can only hope that their story inspires junior and senior sailors alike to collaborate and work as a team to achieve their dreams and write their names in the history book of this esteemed sport.