There are no engines on these boats, lots of enthusiastic manpower is needed to get them into the water
Local fishermen and families spent days and even weeks sprucing up their sturdy working boats, cleaning bottoms and painting the hulls in bright racing colours.
Racing sails were brought out of storage, crews selected and trained. Long hours were spent practicing in preparation for the three day racing events. There were several different sizes of boats, so there were also several classes of race to suit the differences. There was even a sailboat race and some of the lighter weight and more adventurous cruisers entered in the competitions.
We saw the locally famous whaling boat Perseverance beautifully painted and fully rigged ready to beat all comers in its Regatta class! Boats of different sizes were to be found all along the beaches undergoing their renovations in the days leading up to the races.
Smaller brightly painted fishing boats on a beach ready for race day.
The fishing boats are constructed in a single basic style, as they have no keels ballast takes the form of bags filled with sand. One crew member is responsible for moving the bags from side to side as the boat tacks each way through the water.
The sail area seems very big, and the crew also sits (or hikes) out over the side and suspended above the water, strapped to the boat with only a flimsy harness. If you fall in and your companions can't scoop you out quickly, you stay in the water until a rescue boat comes by at the end of the race!
On the first day of the regatta we cruisers all took our dinghies over to the beach where there was a sandcastle competition. We hadn’t t realised we could have entered - making sandcastles is special fun - but the winner had a very original pirate construction, and the small children in the family that made it were thrilled with their efforts. A crazy boat race was an adventure in ingenuity. Each entry had to be constructed by hand using only recyclable materials.
Ingenuity was the order of the day and we saw floating ‘boats’ constructed out of old rubber inner tubes, plastic water bottles tied up in fishing net, old sails with a floatation liner made from old life jackets and a wooden skid with fenders holding it up. Crazy indeed! One or two competitors hadn't had time to test out their vessels and found they were too heavy so they inveigled some nearby child to take the helm. It took several false starts and a lot of enthusiastic shouting and encouragement to get the winner over the finishing line!
Model Boats on the beach
An unusual addition to the events was model boat racing. These hand crafted yachts were also being rigged and painted in sheds and yards all over the islands.
They were much larger than the small remotely controlled models we are accustomed to seeing – most standing well over the height of a man. Some had tiny roller furling and even the shrouds had miniature turnbuckles, just like our full size yachts. We were told that the bulbs on the deep keels can be changed baccording to specific weather conditions and were shown one that had been cast in a sand mould, then machined into shape. We were told it weighed 50 lb.
None of these models boats had engines; the sails had lines which trailed in the water over the stern of the wind driven vessel. The racers were each followed by a mother ship and when the model had to change direction, somebody had to leap into the water, swim up behind the model and personally adjust the sails using the lines at the back of the boat! The races were conducted in deep water over courses of considerable distance. Amazing!
Harrison posing beside a typical model boat
Two days were taken up with sailboat racing – with several classes of vessel and some pretty fancy sail work around the markers. The wind was blowing quite well so everyone made good time.
The fishing boat races started early in the next bay along the coast and they all finished up in our bay. At the end they were all pulled up onto the beach so that everyone could mingle, sample the food from the various stalls set up nearby and later sing and dance well into the night.