Days after the ending of a successful 43rd Regatta Time in Abaco (RTIA), the committee members are already hard at work organizing the 44th RTIA.
The nine-day long RTIA is unique because it allows competitors and visitors alike the chance to island hop the entire Abaco chain of islands, as the sailing competition moves from island to island. The competition is inclusive of American sloop sailing and is open to all cruising sailboats larger than 20 feet. It is a series of four races throughout the entire Abacos. This year, the competition began in South Abaco and ended in North Abaco with the largest beach party in the country, the Cheeseburger Party in Paradise on Fiddle Cay.
Wynsome Ferguson, Manager of the Abaco Tourist Office, said this event impacts the entire island of Abaco.
"Without this event during the summer, it would be a huge void to the economic boost for the island. The island is totally booked in terms of rooms, marina slips, golf car rentals. You're not able to get a golf cart until early August. That is how huge this regatta has been for the island of Abaco," she said.
Ferguson also commented that the reaction from the tourists have been phenomenal.
"The sailors are commenting on the weather, saying it's been the best weather and it was great competition out there. They just love Abaco and they say it's because of the people. The people make them feel extra special and that's why they insist on returning every year."
Dave Ralph, RTIA Commodore, said the exposure for every island is what makes the RTIA so special and successful.
"The experience, the exposure is shared; no one resort gets all the credit. For instance, at the Bluff House, we are only here for one night. We just came from Hope Town, we've been in Marsh Harbour, we've been in Treasure Cay, we've been to Guana. Not just the money that is spent but the exposure. We want our visitors to see the different communities, they're all a little bit different, they all have something different to offer. What one town has, is not quite what the people want and maybe the other towns have it," he said.
The event, which began with a launch party at Pete's Pub in Little Harbour on June 24, moved through the islands with either a race, a lay day or a party. First-time competitor and visitor, Lauren Dove, said it's been a great sailing vacation.
"It's been gorgeous and beautiful and the weather is fantastic. Everybody on every island has been so accommodating and it's just a really nice vacation where we're still sailing and racing. It's not as casual as we will make the next half of our trip here but it's been really good," she said.
Lauren said she and her husband have already discussed returning next year.
Although the RTIA is slated primarily for American sloops, this year, four local boats took part in the competition. With one of the boats, Bent Toe, winning the overall RTIA prize. Jeff Gale, the captain. said he competes in just about every Bahamian regatta there is but the RTIA is different.
"This is different. This is sailing against boats from all over the States, mostly the East Coast. It's more traditional, a little bit modern but we like to do it. It's a good time. We've been doing it for 43 years now and it keeps us coming back, every year," he said.
The overall results of the RTIA 2018 are as follows:
RTIA - Bent Toe - Jeff Gale
PHRF - Abaco Glow - Andy Burke
Multi Hill 2 - Third Tri - Larry Geller
For the complete results listing, visit regattatimeinabaco.com.
MEDIA CONTACT: Dawn Demeritte | Senior Executive, Communications | Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation | email@example.com