Local maritime and cultural traditions meet at North Side Heritage Day, as participants in the upcoming Camana Bay National Catboat Championship join the celebrations and gear up for a day of competition on the water.
Part of the district’s annual Heritage Day, the Camana Bay National Catboat Championship will take place on Remembrance Day, Monday, 12 November, at Kaibo Public Beach from 11am to 2pm. Teams will compete for the Remembrance Day Trophy – as well as boasting rights to be named this year’s top catboat sailor, the Camana Bay National Catboat Champion.
The event is based on the accumulation of points from races throughout the year, and the Remembrance Day race is the final qualifying race in that series.
“It is the premier race of the year,” says Davina Tresidder, Camana Bay Events Manager and Promotions Officer for the Cayman Catboat Club. “There will be seven boats, with teams of two or three people on each boat.”
The public are invited to watch the series of four races and then visit the Catboat Club information booth to speak first-hand with the expert sailors and learn about one of the Islands’ oldest traditions.
“We’re very excited to hold this in tandem with Pirates Week this year, as it really does make sense for the club to be part of local heritage activities,” explains Tresidder. “And Kaibo is actually one of the best places for racing so it should be fun to watch.”
The Catboat Club will also be offering free catboat rides to the public. In their heyday, catboats were a common sight in George Town Harbour and were part of traditional races such as the Easter Regatta. As times progressed, however, their numbers dwindled. Now in its second year, the annual championship is a significant step towards bringing the history and heritage of the traditional vessel alive again, as well as the continued efforts of the members of the Cayman Catboat Club and its sponsors, including the Dart Foundation.
In September 2011, 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.
Originally owned by Linton Whittaker, it is among the largest catboats in the Cayman Islands and will be among the vessels taking part in the Remembrance Day races. Funds are also being used for ongoing educational programmes and the Cayman Catboat Club Championship series.
Dart announced the second instalment of the sponsorship at Camana Bay’s Business After Hours event in September. The club is now focusing efforts on the restoration of their Clubhouse, located next to Lobster Pot restaurant in Whitehall Bay, which was so badly damaged in Hurricane Ivan.
“They’re wonderful boats,” says Tresidder, “It’s an honour to be able to support the club and help preserve a tradition that is uniquely and truly Caymanian. With the club soon back in its original home in Whitehall Bay, we hope to continue our efforts to keep Cayman’s history and heritage alive.”