The National Family Island Regatta represents traditional Bahamian sloop sailing at its best! Bahamian boat builders and sailors gather annually during the last weekend in April to take part in The National races that take place in Elizabeth Harbor, Exuma, for the right to claim the trophy for the best in their class.
Some 60 native sloops from all over The Bahamas convene at Elizabeth Harbour, to take part in various Series and Cup Races. There will be five days of sailing featuring Bahamian native sloops – Classes A, B, C, D, and E. This custom started in 1954, when the first sailors used the same boats to sail that they used to earn their living. At one point they realized that they would stand a better chance of winning a trophy and prize money if they had faster boats. At which point they started crafting boats for speed. There are restrictions on what materials you can use to build the boats, as you must keep it as close as possible to the traditional origin. The main objective of the Regatta was to make certain that the boat building skills of Bahamians were being preserved. Today the Regatta produces first class sailors from almost every island in The Bahamas. There is intense competition, and the atmosphere is alive with excitement as boating aficionados from all over the world descend on the gorgeous tropical island of Exuma! Activities on land include lots of booths with games, art exhibits, give aways, fashion shows, live music, dancing, the police marching band, and lots of mouthwatering Bahamian food. But the sight that leaves the most impression, is standing on the shore in Elizabeth Harbor and watching the approach of these traditional Bahamian sloops as they engage in their final maneuvers to cross the finish line first. It is a sight not to be missed!