Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Please allow me to thank you for joining us this morning for the official announcement of this, the fourth annual Best of the Best Regatta. The sport of sloop sailing has been a part of the Bahamian national identity for more than 80 years, first starting as challenge among boats bringing their wares to New Providence. A little organization, no doubt a result of the presence of the women connected to the old sailors, and the concept of the Bahamian regatta was born.
The 2019 Best of the Best Regatta seeks to continue the evolution of the sport in how it is presented to the public. There is no secret that one of the main goals of this ministry is to secure the designation of sailing as our national sport. Like Junkanoo and peas and rice and fried fish, sloop sailing is intrinsically Bahamian.
The movement of people, commerce, news and gossip happened because of the back and forth of these boats in the old days. Now, it’s the competitive juices that drive the competition in our various regattas, with settlements and islands seeking the bragging rights that come with winning a major regatta. The Best of the Best Regatta, in its short existence, has proven to be the premier regatta presentation in this country. You would understand that taking home a trophy in what has become the third major after the National Family Island Regatta and the Long Island Regatta is a very big deal among our sailors and their fans.
The Best of the Best Regatta has also been the birthplace of many of the innovations that are redefining our sport. We started with big screens on the beach, then added livestreaming. Last year, we added live television and this year, we are extremely proud to announce our partnership with the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas to become the official broadcast partner for the 4th Best of the Best Regatta.
The Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas, or the ZNS Network is the national broadcaster and is seen on more television sets and hand held devices than any other network in our country. In its 42 years of television broadcasting, ZNS TV has cemented itself as the people’s television station and for family islanders, the idea of watching their boats crewed and captained by their fellow islanders on their national network is a major, major accomplishment.
I wish to applaud our team and the ZNS Network for making this arrangement possible and I am excited to see what this partnership produces. We will hear more from them later this morning.
This year, we are expecting more than 50 boats to be in the water in classes A, B and C. These boats will represent islands and communities throughout the archipelago. As you know, the nightmare known as Hurricane Dorian has caused a change of plans on many levels in our country. The Best of the Best was no exception, with our budget being trimmed as a part of government’s refocusing of resources to help with the recovery. Despite this, our team did an incredible job of ensuring that the funds dedicated to our sailors and their prize money remained untouched. Through the generosity of our business community, we were also able to put on two cup races as well. Our sponsors for those races, Marlin Marine and JS Johnson are here today. I wish to also acknowledge some of our other sponsors, Marlin Marine, JS Johnson, Kalik and Caribbean Bottling Company, who are also here today.
I mentioned Hurricane Dorian earlier. As most of you know, I’ve had my own close call with that hurricane and for the past few months since its passage, I have been working very hard to assist in the national recovery effort, be it on the local level with my team and the bipartisan efforts on Grand Bahama or on the international level. I have spoken in Spain, Norway and Costa Rica on the affect this hurricane has had on our country. I have canvassed for whatever help we can get on the international stage and I will come to the public in short order to share our progress. In a few days, I will be visiting the FAO in
Rome and Hurricane Dorian will be very much on my agenda.
But even here, as we celebrate the announcement of yet another Best of the Best Regatta, Hurricane Dorian is still on our minds. I am hopeful that the championship team of the Abaco Rage Sailing Cartel, racing the Lonesome Dove in B Class and the “It Ain’t Right” in the C Class are here to compete when the first cannon goes off on December 5 th at 9 AM. It is my hope that if God allows, Jeff Gale and his crew can give the people of Abaco, particularly the ones displaced to New Providence, a reason to cheer and smile. That is a part of the beauty of sports.