|Fools Regatta: Crowd favorite sails into its 20th year|
|Saturday, 05 June 2010 08:59|
What started as a multihull sailboat race among a few friends 20 years ago has grown into one of the largest events of the year on Providenciales.
Set for June 19 at the Bight Children’s Park, the 20th Annual Fools Regatta surely will draw hundreds of adults and children for music, food, drink, tug-o-war, raft races and six different sailboat races.
A new award this year, the Tom Lightbourne Memorial Trophy, will go to the winner of the native sloop race. The trophy honors local civic, business and political leader Thomas Lightbourne, who died April 28 at the age of 64 after a long battle with cancer.
Also new is this year’s main sponsor, Islandcom Wireless, which will soon be launching the island’s first 3G cellular service. The company also will supply the big prize for a raffle — an Apple iPhone with one year of free 3G service, a $1,700 value.
Proceeds from this year’s event will go to the Turks and Caicos Islands Football Association Youth Programme. So far the event has contributed $300,000 to local charities over the years, according to regatta “Chief Fool” David Douglas, of Sun Charters and skipper of the Atabeyra.
Now a community event, the regatta had its beginning on the south side of the island in Sapodilla Bay, where a number of catamarans and trimarans were anchored.
Captain Mike Robertson and his wife (Admiral) Kathi Barrington have won all but three of the regatta’s big boat races aboard Minx — which Mike built. They recalled the early days of the regatta.
When April Fools Day rolled around in 1990, Dave Matthews of Tao, Tim Ainley of Beluga and other skippers of multihull sailboats decided it would be fun to have a race.
The original race was called the Multihull Fools Regatta because only multihull boats were in it. Nani Kai, a 42-foot custom cat, won the first race; Minx, a 41-foot Rogreguez tri, came in second; and Two Fingers, a 36-foot MacGregor cat, placed third.
Other boats in the race included Octui, a 30-something-foot Piver tri; Vertige Cat, a 37-foot cat; Beluga, a 37-foot Wharram cat; and Winds of Change, a Brown 41-foot trimaran.
Participants got T-shirts and rum as prizes, but it wasn’t a money maker — yet. They had so much fun that they decided to do it again, this time on the north shore to make it easier for more boats to join in. Again the prizes were T-shirts and rum, sponsored by Cookie Kellar of Carib West and Mount Gay Rum Distillery
The third year included monohulls and native sloops, and the regatta started to take off, with winners taking home cash in addition to rum. By 1996 the event was making money, so the proceeds were donated to the Turks and Caicos Rescue Association. Since then, proceeds from the growing event have gone to local charities.
Over the years, the event was renamed the April Fools Regatta, but it was moved to later and later in the year, first because of weather and later to move it past the busy tourist season.
As a trophy for winners of the big boat race, local artist Pam Leach designed and created a pottery sculpture, for which Robertson created the base. He now owns the trophy, and new ones are created each year for the winner.
Douglas said the Provo Sailing Club introduced Hobie Wave catamarans into the regatta in 1998, opening it up to people of all ages. And in 2004 raft races were added for both children and adults.
While Hobie races were nearshore events, the big boat races have been both inside the reef, outside the reef or captain’s choice. In recent years, the big boats have raced to Pine Cay, where a crew member has to swim ashore, drink a rum punch at the Meridian Club and swim back to the boat before continuing in the race.
Likely to be in this year’s big boat race are Minx, which you see cruising the north shore most Sundays, and Beluga, which Ainley skippers in his popular charter business.
Several Hobie events will feature children as skipper and crew, as well as adult/child teams. The Islandcom Cup Relay will feature adult/child teams of four.
Islandcom says it intends to sponsor the regatta and events like it that “have a positive reach into the local community. We recognize that this event represents life in the TCI: fun, family, sailing and local traditions.”
The day starts at 11:30 a.m. with a big boat captain’s meeting and end at 6 p.m. with the awards ceremony. So come prepared for a full day of sun and watercraft activities of all kinds.
Fools Regatta 2010
11:30 a.m. — Skippers’ meeting
|Last Updated on Saturday, 05 June 2010 09:49|
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