Rebirth of “Regattas In The Abaco” (RiTA): A Spectacular Success

Overall winners were "Rockstar" in the performance spinnaker class, "The Lonesome Dove" in the non-spinnaker cruising class, and "Catabatic" secured overall honors in the multihull class. Photo credit: Bahamas Ministry of Tourism,.

Befitting the recent announcement that Sailing is now the national sport of the Bahamas, The Abacos witnessed an outstanding success in the first year of the rebirth of the summer sailing regatta. From June 25th to July 1st, between Elbow Cay and Green Turtle Cay, participants were treated to a series of five thrilling sailing races. With 18 vessels competing, ranging from smallest a Bahamian ‘C’ class sloop, “It Ain’t Right,” to the largest being an impressive McConaghy 60, “Noble House,” the regatta showcased the spirit of sailing in grand style. Paying homage to the tradition set by the renowned “Regatta Time In Abaco” crew, this new event, monikered “Regattas In The Abaco” or RiTA, embarked on a bright new path of fun on the water while honoring its rich history. The regatta commenced on June 25th with a modified version of the infamous Marsh Harbour to Hope Town “Race around the islands.” Participants were blessed with ideal sailing conditions—champagne sailing with a light chop and a steady 8 to 12 knots of sunny breeze.

“Rockstar,” skippered by Tim Tucker, lived up to its reputation, claiming line honors and the win on corrected time in the performance spinnaker class. In the non-spinnaker class, “Contrails,” helmed by Jim Wallace, emerged as the victor, while “Catabatic,” skippered by Larry Geller, triumphed in the multihull category. Various yacht clubs were proudly represented including St. Augustine YC, Hillsboro Inlet
SC, Club Nautico Mar del Plata, Sarasota Sailing Squadron, Coconut Grove SC, Southern YC, River Dunes Marina, Charleston YC, and the local Abaco Rage Sailing Syndicate. The event garnered rave reviews from participants and followers alike, and its success was made possible through the invaluable patronage of Member of Parliament for South Abaco, John Pinder, and unwavering support from the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Aviation, and Investments. Mount Gay Rum, Sands Beer, and the Bahamian Beverage Company played crucial roles as sponsors, as did the indefatigable crew at Jimmy’s Wines & Spirits, who ensured that competitors and followers enjoyed generous libations and endless smiles during the après-race gatherings.

The event was also made possible by the support of 35 additional sponsors, including many who provided in-kind donations such as docking for the Race Committee boats at Abaco’s marinas, as well as donors who provided much-needed financial support. Notable silver level sponsors include HG Christie Ltd. Real Estate and The Abaco Club on Winding Bay, while the remaining sponsors are recognized on the official website, The event owes its resounding success to the combined efforts of these sponsors and donors. The second day of racing witnessed another day of champagne sailing conditions, with a light chop and a 5 to 10 knot southeasterly trade wind. The course, starting off Hope Town and ending off Guana Cay, featured a new race inspired by the downwind “sleighrides” of the 1980s. “NautOnCall” secured the win in the spinnaker class, while the local wood racing sloop, “The Lonesome Dove,” displayed remarkable performance to claim victory in the non- spinnaker class.

Catabatic once again emerged victorious in the multihull class. Race #3, featuring a typical “Round the Bouys” course, solidified the positions of the leaders in each class. Race #4 introduced a completely new course, starting at Baker’s Bay, Great Guana Cay, and ending off New Plymouth, Green Turtle Cay. Sailors traversed the infamous Whale Cay Channel, a passage that has intimidated seafarers throughout history. Race day #4 presented unexpected surprises and challenges, but every sailor thoroughly enjoyed themselves, as confirmed during the trophy presentation at the Green Turtle Club that evening. The “Pursuit Start” format, skillfully managed by co-PROs Carol Ewing and David Helmick, saw boats starting according to their rating with the hope of finishing together. Due to challenging weather conditions, the
gap between the first and last finisher spanned several hours. Despite the circumstances, the experienced sailors emerged victorious, while the bold and brave secured podium positions. The Bahamian Sloop, “Lonesome Dove,” claimed victory with a skeleton crew, including four juniors who relished the experience. “Rockstar” continued its winning streak, securing line honors in this demanding distance race, and “Lady Grey” surprised the multihull fleet by claiming victory on corrected time. Skipper Barry Simmons displayed exceptional skill, navigating the inside passage and keeping full sail throughout the storms. Race #5, a classic Green Turtle Cay race, witnessed an unexpected reversal of wind conditions, transforming the upwind start into a downwind start.

The light wind conditions favored the focused captains, and two “summer squalls” during the race tested the crews’ abilities to optimize their sailing rigs amidst winds swinging through 180 degrees. Overall winners were “Rockstar” in the performance spinnaker class, “The Lonesome Dove” in the non- spinnaker cruising class, and “Catabatic” secured overall honors in the multihull class. Every evening event throughout the regatta attracted a significant turnout, with special mention given to Kidds Cove on Guana Cay for hosting an après-race party and who opened just in time to have the Regatta crew as the very first customers. In addition to the estimated 80+ participating sailors, there were two dozen or more followers who revelled in the joy of being on the water and exploring The Abacos. RiTA Commodore Dwayne Wallas expressed his delight in the resounding success of the inaugural rebirth and expressed optimism for an even better 2024 edition. Thanks is heartily expressed to all the volunteers who helped put this together and the invaluable support of the Abaco business community. Save the dates—June 23rd to June 30th—and mark your calendars to join us for another fantastic racing tour of the Abacos. With older rum, faster boats, and younger spirits, we eagerly anticipate the next year’s regatta which will double in size.

Source: Barefoot Marketing

More photo highlights below:

Bahamian Sloop It Aint’ Right was one of two Bahamian registered boats in the regatta. Photo credit: Bahamas Ministry of Tourism,.

The Sea of Abaco has been a favourite of the sailing community for decades. Photo credit: RiTA Committee

The regatta kicked off with a Skippers Meeting at the new Jib Room Restaurant and Marina in Marsh Harbour. Photo credit: RiTA Committee

Under the rating system, boats of all sizes compete together. Photo credit: Jimmy’s Wines & Spirits

The Race 3 Awards Party was hosted by Kidd’s Cove in Guana Cay which was also their grand re-opening night.
Photo credit: RiTA Committee

In Race 1 the Sloop Lonesome Dove finds a lift to take on Pilgrim Shadow. Photo credit: Jimmy’s Wines & Spirits