Enjoying a great week of weather, the 43rd Regatta Time in Abaco (RTIA) brought dozens of sailors and hundreds of guests to Abaco to take part in races and shore parties across on June 24 through July 3.
Taking the overall trophy in this year’s RTIA Division was Hope Town native Jeff Gale on ‘Bent Toe,’ fielding possibly the youngest crew in all the races (all teenagers), and was also the recipient of the first Peter Christie RTIA Floating Trophy.
William McPherson “Peter” Christie, an avid sailor, was a regular fixture at the Annual RTIA events sailing first in the ‘Balamena’ (an Erickson 28) and later in ‘Spindrift’ (Cal 9.2) and finally the ‘Balamena II’ (a Hunter 35.5) which he last sailed on in 2015. Passing away in early 2018, Peter Christie has left behind a legacy of sailing carried on by several of his grand children and now memorialized in a floating trophy to be awarded to the RTIA Division’s top crew each year.
In the PHRF (Performance Handicapped Racing Fleet) Division another long-time participant, ‘Abaco Glow’ skippered by Andy Burke, in RTIA once again captured the top honors.
In the ultra-competitive Multi Hull Division, edging out the competition but mere seconds was ‘Third Tri’ skippered by Larry Geller.
This year, Abaco’s largest tourism event, took visitors from Hope Town to Guana Cay and Marsh Harbour then on to Treasure Cay finishing in Green Turtle Cay.
The RTIA held four races with the associated awards parties and social events on lay days in between.
Beginning the schedule was a launch party at Pete’s Pub in Little Harbour on June 24 and the week concluded with the huge Cheeseburger in Paradise beach party on Fiddle Cay on July 3.
After the Regatta racing concluded, several thousand persons bringing hundreds of boats attended the Cheeseburger in Paradise Beach Party where 3,000 hamburgers and 1,000 hot dogs along with rum punches were all given out for free. This Fiddle Cay beach party hosts power boaters from Florida and other foreign points as well as a few from Abaco. Boats with three and four outboard engines were a common sight. This is by far the largest beach party in the country and has been said to surpass anything like it in Florida.
The Regatta brings hundreds of visitors who contribute heavily to the economy of the entire island including Central Abaco businesses. While most of the entrants come from Florida and ports north as far as Charleston, N.C., many of their crew and guests arrive by plane and take taxis and ferries to get with their host captain, while liquor and grocery stores also see a significant surge in sales during this event.
RTIA began in the mid-1970s as an enticement to Florida sailors to come experience the great sailing, beautiful beaches and interesting settlements of Abaco. It has assisted in developing Abaco’s successful summer tourism season helping to fill resorts and marinas, along with house rentals, golf cart and boat rentals.
Sponsors look forward to participating each year, with the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Mount Gay as two of the Regatta’s larger sponsors. Local sponsoring businesses supporting the Regatta include Aliv, Chances, Sun Oil LTD., Albury’s Ferry, Kalik, Coca Cola, Treasure Cay Resort and Marina, Abaco Groceries, Abaco Petroleum, Roberts Marine, Hope Town Inn and Marina, Abaco Inn, Guana Grabbers, Pete’s Pub and Gallery and The Moorings.