The Cayman Islands Sailing Club is teaming up with the Cayman Islands Catboat Club this weekend for the first ever “Cayman Spring Regatta,” hosted at the Cayman Islands Yacht Club in West Bay.

The event kicks off on Friday at Anchors in the Yacht Club with seafaring catboat skippers enjoying cold beverages on special on the patio at 5 p.m. Music will be provided by the master of steel pan himself, Earl La Pierre. There is a skippers’ briefing at 6 p.m., followed by the Sailing Club hosting a regatta dinner at Morgan’s Restaurant.

Catboats

A little about Catboats: A catboat (or cat boat or cat-rigged sailboat) is a sailing vessel characterized by a single mast carried well forward (near the front of the boat). A catboat rig is “a fore and aft rig with a mast that has a minimum of standard rigging and no jib (headsail).” The first locally known catboat, “The Terror,” was built by Mr. Daniel Jarvis from Cayman Brac. It is widely acknowledged that Caymanian catboat building is considered an art. Local catboats range in length from 14 to 28 feet, depending on the purpose of the craft.

Catboats were often painted blue to minimise the reflection of the sun’s glare into the fishermen’s eyes. Most residents in these islands know more about catboat racing rather than the reason they were developed in the first place, which was to assist with turtle fishing.

While turtles were plentiful in the 1800s, as time progressed, turtle fishermen had to go further and further afield for their catch. The catboat was designed to be nimble and quick on the water and could be easily stored on the schooners that were used to bring cargo and turtle to these islands.

Regatta

The big regatta event is on Saturday, starting with the catboats that will race for their annual “Premier Cup.” It starts at 10 a.m., running until noon, followed by a long distance North Sound race featuring the Cayman Islands Sailing ClSC J22 racing class. There is a planned arrival into Governor’s Harbour around 1 p.m. for a spectacular spinnaker finish for the crowd. The eight J22s actively race each month against each other so this should prove to be a close race.

Youth event

The main youth event starts Saturday at noon at Morgan’s Restaurant with 20 Opti sailors aged 8-14 racing a newly fully fitted fleet. The upgraded vessels have been made possible by generous sponsors who recently donated funds to bring the youth fleet up to 18 boats in the hopes that this will be the first of many regattas hosted in the Cayman Islands.

The youth team has competed in Bahamas, Jensen Beach, Amsterdam, and the British Virgin Islands this year and the Championship Fleet sailors are off to Toronto in June for the North American Championships, followed by the British Nationals in July. The public is encouraged to come out and support these young athletes.

There will be a barbecue and live DJ music from 1-4 p.m. along with local crafts, face painting and henna tattoos. Admission is free to the public and there will be a $10 raffle to support the youth team. Prizes include Sailing Club memberships, kids sailing camps, adult sailing lessons and the grand prize of a night’s stay at the Kimpton Seafire, to be drawn at 4 p.m.

For more information, please contact 2017 CISC Dinghy Rep Pamela Webster on 926-5404.

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