Horsing about in catboats

Pirates Week Heritage days are all about celebrating our past and keeping the memories and traditions alive. It is fitting then that the Camana Bay National Catboat Championship has been timed to coincide with the North Side Heritage Day this year.

That’s Monday, 12 November, for those that don’t know – and it’s a holiday, so only those poor souls who work on public holidays won’t be able to make it. The Remembrance Day races are the last in a series of races that take place throughout the year, and will run from 11am until about 2pm.

The championship takes place in the waters off Kaibo Public Beach and members of the Catboat Club will be showing off their skill in handling these traditional sailing boats. Once an integral part of daily life in Cayman, today catboats are most commonly brought out on high days and holidays.

Introduced in the 1900s, and crafted by hand, catboats were once used for transportation as well as for fishing and turtling. Thanks to the efforts of members of the Cayman Catboat Club and donations from the Dart Foundation, this important part of Caymanian heritage is enjoying a revival.

Dart has been supporting the Cayman Catboat Club ever since Austin Ebanks, one of Dart’s first employees, as well as some of the club’s other members, introduced members of the Dart team to this historic and elegant craft. The Dart Foundation and the Cayman Catboat Club signed a three-year sponsorship agreement to offset restoration costs of the magnificent Whittaker Cat, a 24-foot catboat built in 1962, as well as to support ongoing educational programmes and as a series of catboat races and regattas.

The Whittaker will be racing alongside six other catboats in the regatta and the Catboat Club will be offering free catboat rides to members of the public. They will also be providing cultural and historical information on one of Cayman’s oldest traditions and showcasing past and present competitors.

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