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The National Family Island Regatta Sets Sail on its 68th Year of Competition with Goombay Punch

Caribbean Bottling Company (CBC), local producers of Coca-Cola and Dasani products and longtime corporate supporter of the National Family Island (NFI) Regatta looks forward to another year of steep competition and culture at the 68th NFI Regatta this April 23-27 in George Town, Exuma.

The week-long event is anticipated to be filled with great excitement as thousands of Bahamians and visitors enjoy the stunning sights of Elizabeth Harbour. 

In addition to the natural beauty, Regatta goers will also be able to submerge themselves in Bahamian culture. From vendors selling mouthwatering local dishes to live musicians, there will be no room for boredom on the Regatta ground. 

Dallas Knowles, the NFI Regatta Commodore spoke to the cultural relevance this and many Regattas have on The Bahamas.

“It’s an amazing blend of sports and culture. Particularly, with sloop sailing, it gives a look into the past— with sailormen racing on their off days and the style and quality in which they built their boats. The way the boats are crafted and the materials used to build them, something many do not practice anymore around the world, makes this aspect of our culture very unique,” Knowles said. 

“The history of sailing and what our Regattas have evolved into today, is something very special and something we take pride in preserving,” he concluded.

A preservation that is upheld through the organizers, visitors, sailors, and most importantly corporate Bahamas Knowles said. 

“Every little detail costs money, everything that makes the Regatta spectacular is an expense. So, we are grateful for Caribbean Bottling Company and Goombay Punch who have been long, long term supporters of the Regatta,” he expressed. 

“We would not be able to carry out nearly as much as we do each year without private sponsorship. We really appreciate Caribbean Bottling Company and Goombay Punch’s support over the years which has allowed us to host a beautiful event.” Knowles concluded. 

This years’ NFI Regatta will be the first one since the government declared sailing as the official sport of The Bahamas.  

While many sailors are thrilled to finally have sailing recognized as the national sport, this recognition is not new to CBC and Goombay Punch. 

For many years CBC and Coca-Cola has supported and sponsored the NFI Regatta and various Regattas throughout the country. In 2022 CBC took their support for sailing up a notch with the introduction of the Annual Goombay Punch Cup competition as a way to highlight sailing's cultural significance. 

The competition which awards five-thousand dollars to the overall top sailor across the Best of the Best Regatta, National Family Island Regatta and Long Island Regatta is a testament to their corporate dedication to supporting local culture.

Through the prize money, CBC and Goombay Punch can directly impact the winning sloop by offering financial relief.

Chester Fox, Long Island Regatta and Best of the Best Regatta Commodore, said the decision to make sailing the national sport was a boost and raised their ambitions to do more. 

“Now that sailing is the official sport, we look forward to hopefully increasing our fundraising, but we are mostly focused on getting sailing into the schools,” he concluded. 

Aside from the cultural significance of sailing, which Fox describes as “an integral part of our society” and “a look into our past way of life”, sailing is also important because of the impact it has on the youth.

“We are really striving and focused on getting sailing programs, if not in all the schools, at least a junior sailing program on every island. Sailing is a great activity of clean fun that guides and gives young people a purpose to focus on. And, of course, we are always on the lookout to support the next Bahamian sailing Olympian,” Fox said.

A goal CBC endorses, by providing an eight-thousand dollar stipend to the junior sailing club of the Goombay Punch Cup winner’s island. 

As sailors and regatta enthusiasts gear up to head to Exuma this week, Knowles encourages people who are interested in sailing to speak to their local island administrators about sailing programs. For those living in New Providence, he suggests visiting the Bahamas National Sailing School for classes. 

To learn more about the upcoming National Family Island Regatta and all things sailing visit their website at www.nationalfamilyislandregatta.com.