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Gotta Regatta -

March 21, 2002 

The tug of war at the George Town cruisers' regatta is hard work

"My little boat, she's not so fast
We don't come first, but we don't come last
When it comes to the trophy, we fail the test,
but you know we can always party with the best..."

(E. Quinn, "Gotta Regatta")

The premier event in the Bahamas cruising community's social calendar is the George Town Cruisers' Regatta. The 22nd annual regatta began with a flourish this past weekend and will continue through the rest of this week. Cruisers on close to 400 boats are here spectating and participating in a bewildering array of activities that a hard working committee of volunteers began organizing months ago. The point is to involve everyone and have lots of fun. Winning is secondary.

On opening day, we were filled with enthusiasm and entered two events, the tug of war and the "raingutter regatta". Our tug of war team was called the "Canadian Cold Front". You can probably guess our nationality, eh? Our arch rivals were "Team Texas". We think our maple leaf flag might have been larger than their Texan star, but it was close. As it turned out, we both lost our initial pulls to other teams, so we never had a chance to face one another. This was probably a good thing since Canadians are generally unarmed.

The raingutter regatta involved a toy sailboat in a raingutter filled with water. In a timed race, one member of a couple blew the boat one way down the gutter and his or her partner then blew it back. Given our reputations as blowhards, we figured we had the race sewed up. Unfortunately, blowing accuracy proved to be at least as important as air volume and we had a miserable finish, our faces dripping with water.

The second day of the regatta was devoted to kids' events. Over a hundred Bahamian children were brought over in a giant catamaran to join the cruisers' kids. There was the usual assortment of relay races, treasure hunts, toy boat races and water balloon tosses. The favourite event, however, was the pudding eating contest. With their hands behind their backs, contestants buried their faces in bowls full of chocolate pudding. To signal they had emptied their bowls (more or less) they had to upturn them on their heads. At the finish, everyone's hair, face and clothes were smeared with dark brown pudding. The kids loved it. The moms were less enthusiastic.

On Monday, for the more artistic types, there was a sand sculpture competition. A dozen teams demonstrated remarkable imagination in building sea-related scenes out of sand, shells and other natural materials collected from the beach. We overheard an intense group of young girls in the children's class discussing their mermaid sculpture in progress. The primary issue was the size of the mermaid's breasts. Ten year old Helen sagely observed, "The judges are all men. Make the boobs big!"

The list of events goes on and on: a tennis tournament, volleyball competition, small boat races (kayaks, rowboats, sailing dinghies), swimming events, scavenger hunt, softball games (men's and women's), peas and rice eating contest (burp!) and talent show. Two years ago, we won the "coconut harvest", beating twenty other teams in flipper propelled inflatables gathering a bunch of floating coconuts. This year we decided to retire undefeated. Also, we're still hurting from the tug of war, Eileen sporting rope burns and David limping with a sore back.

But we're having a great time. And did we mention that the regatta also features sailboat races? More on that next week.

David & Eileen