‘King’ Eric Regatta set for this weekend
Guardian Sports Editor
Published: Jan 05, 2017
Keeping the legacy of the late “King” Eric Gibson alive, the third annual regatta in his honor is set to be held this weekend in the waters of Montagu Bay.
The King Eric Regatta Committee announced in a press conference yesterday that the regatta will get underway on Friday and wrap up on Sunday. The regatta committee was formed in 2014 to pay tribute to “King” Eric, who passed away on December 28, 2013, at the age of 79.
“King” Eric was a sailing legend in The Bahamas, responsible for establishing most of the sloop sailing clubs in The Bahamas, as well as starting most of the regattas on the Family Islands which became an excellent method of stimulating the economy of those islands. “King” Eric was also known as the best sailmaker for Bahamian sloops in The Bahamas.
“The whole idea is to recognize the contribution and accomplishments in the development of the sport of sloop sailing in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas that was made by ‘King’ Eric,” said Eric Gibson Jr., son of “King” Eric and chairman of the regatta committee. “‘King’ Eric always said that it’s not about him but about building the country, and as a result, organizers decided to hold an annual regatta in his honor.
“We’re happy to announce the third Annual ‘King’ Eric Regatta to be held on Montagu Beach this coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily,” said Eric Gibson Jr. “This regatta will be a grand affair, featuring the ‘A’ B’ and ‘C’ classes. We’re making a special effort so that any boat that wants to sail could come and join the regatta. We have an open policy for anyone to come and participate.”
According to regatta committee member Delsworth Gibson, a total of 34 boats are confirmed thus far but they expect many more to sign up and take part.
The Running Tide, Whitty K and Sacrifice are confirmed out of Long Island; Bul Reg, Fugitive, the Lady Sonia and Keep Your Eye on Him are coming out of Georgetown; Warrior and Golden Girl are scheduled to be here from Barreterre; all of the boats from Black Point are set to take part, including Smashie, H2O and Lethal Weapon; and organizers are still waiting on confirmation from Abaco.
“If all of the boats in the three classes in the country were to show up, we would have to budget about half of a million dollars. This is the commitment that we have taken upon ourselves in honor of the late ‘King’ Eric,” said Delsworth Gibson. “Quite a number of boats are on barges as we speak. We’re looking forward to having a good time. We expect to exceed the 34 boats that are already confirmed. This event has grown exponentially, and we expect it to continue to grow.”
One of “King” Eric’s proteges, Stephano Kemp, will sail two of his sloops at the regatta – the Queen Drucilla and the King of Knights.
“I feel very good to be in this regatta. I’m very grateful for the opportunity,” he said yesterday. “We just want to keep his legacy going. The fans could look forward to stiff competition coming from the Queen Drucilla and the King of Knights.”
Race coordinator Stafford Armbrister said that after working with “King” Eric for over 30 years, he’s happy and honored to be able to do something in his honor.
“It’s a pleasure for me to be here,” he said. “On Friday, we will start tentatively at 11 in the morning. We might have to double sailing on Saturday. We’re just asking everyone to be on time so that we could get all of the races in by Sunday afternoon. We want to make this something that ‘King’ Eric would be proud of. We’re looking forward to a lot of fun in Montagu this weekend. It’s going to be a family affair.”
King Eric Regatta Committee Chairman Eric Gibson Jr. said that there will be a number of onshore activities, including entertainment by local bands, Ronnie Butler, Ira Storr and the Spank Bank, the Soulful Groovers, So Be It Band, Funky D, Geno D, Puzzle, Veronica Bishop, Ericka, Dyson Knight, Exzec, Wendy and DJ Rev.
“We’re going to be playing Bahamian music so as to pay tribute to ‘King’ Eric’s legacy as a Bahamian musician,” said Gibson Jr. “We want to encourage the Family Island regatta committees to get a stall and represent their respective islands, so that they could raise money for their regattas. We expect this to be a grand affair.
“We’re looking to set the tone for the remainder of the regatta season. That is the reason why we won’t restrict any boats from coming out and taking part. We want to see as many boats as possible take part. This will allow them to get a fast start on their competition for the rest of the year. We’re looking for as many boats as possible to come out and take part.”
Gibson Jr. ended by thanking the regatta’s sponsors thus far – the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources with responsibility for regattas and Burns House. He also thanked the general public for their support.
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