Family Island Regatta

Styled after transshipment and fishing boats of old, the boat building tradition remains alive in the Bahamas.  The new racing sloops are still built by eye and hand, using skills and knowledge passed down from generations past.  New Legend’s build started last year by Mark Knowles and made her debut in the National Family Island Regatta this year.

She is 28 feet long with beautiful lines, a 38’ boom (!) and a 60’ mast.  That huge boom holds an enormous sail area, so plenty of lead in the keel and hold are added along with the pry boards for hiking out.

When we visited Long Island right before the regatta, we saw the new mast being strengthened by adding wood planks and splicing them in to get it to the desired height.  

This was on a day-trip we took with Clark and Michelle on the way for a swim in Dean’s Blue Hole.

For this year’s regatta, Leslie got us ladies got an opportunity to sail on the C-class sloop Dream Girl with Captain Rolle.  It was an unforgettable experience!  He is a kind and funny sailor who somehow gets a crew of pretty ladies to sail with him each year (Thx for the photo, Nancy!).  

Dream girl

Being the only boat with women in the regatta, I originally assumed that he was in it for fun and not competition.  I was soon set straight ~ racing is serious business.  

The first day we were in three collisions when there were pile-ups at the marks!

We had a few light wind days, some fresh breeze and then a strong wind finale over the course of four days.  Leslie, Amanda and I were all new to these boats, while Jessica and Montana have done this since they were kids.  

We got better with each race ~ on one day we were second around the first windward mark in a fleet of 30+ boats!  That race we finished 11th overall and were pretty chuffed.  

On the last day, the winds were gusty around 18-20 kts, plus our sail had several hanks pop loose right from the start.  We all managed to stay on the boat AND not flood the boat, with some struggle, but in the end the sail blew out of the track.  On that day, six C-class boats sank in the high winds so we felt glad that we were still ahead of the game in the end.

The A-Class races were action-packed after the first day was canceled due to light winds.  The fleet of nine boats sailed back to back races on the following day.  The anchor-starts are always exciting to watch!





New Legend was getting faster by the day.  By adjusting sails and taking off some lead, when it came to the last race, she was sailing in excellent form!  She was slippery and sliced gracefully through the water.  Mark crewed on her with friends Cameron & Emile and the man who cut the wood, Mark Knowles, at the helm.

Running Tide won the Governer’s Cup on the first day to beat the lead boat at the finish-line!  It was so close that I thought they were in second and didn’t realize they had pulled it off.  They persisted through the rest of the regatta to become the 2018 A-Class National Champions!  


It was a great day for Long Island ~ champagne all around!

Over the course of the week, which included four race days, we regatta'd hard.  Food and drink booths were built along the government dock and we stayed out after midnight most nights.  The next day we’d power through the racing ~ C-class started with one-hour warning gun at 9:30 AM and the last races would finish around 6:00 PM.  We pretended like we were in our 20’s again and the week was a blur of great visuals and memories!

© M&M 2019