Bahamians get the royal treatment
Published on March 26th, 2022
Young British royals, William and Kate, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, race against each other in Bahamian Wooden Sloops in Nassau. Story by Jan Pehrson:
Prince William, likely future king of England, and his wife Kate’s 2022 good will tour of the Caribbean was packed with planned activities and photo ops.
Trailed by photographers and writers for British newspapers and magazines, William and Kate made many costume changes. Performing their duty, the attractive young royals posed for photos at formal dinners, with dignitaries, making speeches, visiting schools, holding babies, and so on.
Then on March 25th the young royals had the opportunity to sail in a Bahamian sloop regatta. The invitation read:
On the occasion of Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee Celebration
You are invited to
The Royal Regatta of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
To the Commonwealth of the Bahamas
As the boats raced through the waters of Montagu Bay, leaving William and Kate’s entourage behind on the shore, there was no opportunity for formal portraits. The local crews and visiting royals relaxed, got to know each other, and shared some laughs.
Giving up the helm to the royals, the crews got out their phones and started snapping selfies. It was pouring down rain, the waters were choppy, everybody was soaked, but no matter. A fine time was had all around.
The regatta was sailed in 21-foot-long B Class sloops. Sloops are traditional boats built in the Bahamas of native hardwoods. With huge sail areas, overhanging booms, and an unlimited number of crew for ballast, today’s racing sloops are a handful to sail.
Originally used for fishing and transportation, today sloops are speedsters. It is said that only in the Bahamas could workboats morph into an extreme sport.
Wooden sloops are built on many of the different islands of the Bahamas. Royal Regatta results – giving boat names as well as home islands – are:
1. Susan Chase V –Mangrove Bush, Long Island (Prince William was captain for the day)
2. Ole Boy – Salt Pond, Long Island
3. Cobra – Mayaguana
4. Barbarian I – Acklins
5. Ants Nest II – Ragged Island (Kate Middleton was captain for the day)
Royal support of Bahamian sailing is nothing new. Queen Elizabeth’s late husband and William’s grandfather, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was an avid sailor. Philip is remembered by local sloop sailors who raced with him in regattas, and his photographs line the walls at the Nassau Yacht Club and the Royal Nassau Sailing Club, where he was an Honorary Life Member. The Royal Regatta of 2022 was a nod to him.
As a sign of changing times, sailing is replacing cricket, a holdover from the old colonial times, as the national sport of the Bahamas. In the Bahamas, tradition and change co-exist.
Photos from the cell phones of the Bahamian crews:
Team Duchess of Cambridge on Ants Nest II (Left to Right): Keith Rolle, Joseph Brown Jr., Kate (Duchess), Desmond Pinder, Samuel Rolle. Back: Joseph Brown Sr., Lee Armbrister (skipper), and James Wallace (kneeling). Photo courtesy of the crew of Ants Nest II.
Team Duke of Cambridge on Susan Chase V (Left to Right): Travis Knowles, Ceri, Security (front), Claudius (back), Garret, CJ, Prince William (Duke), Stefan Knowles (skipper). Photo by Travis Knowles.
Jan Pehrson is a sailing photojournalist who spends summers in San Francisco, California and winters in St. Pete Beach, Florida. As a racing and cruising sailor and Coast Guard licensed skipper, Jan’s familiarity with sailing and the sailing community lends an in-depth element to her prolific array of photographs and articles. Contact her at www.janpehrson.com