If you build it, you should know how to sail it. That’s how Sheldon Gibson summed up his triumph Sunday in the Bahamian Brewery’s Sands Beer ‘Man in the Boat’ Sculling championships in Montagu Bay to complete
the 26th St Valentine’s Day Massacre.
Photo courtesy of Tim Aylen
#Gibson, who was commissioned by the company’s president James ‘Jimmy’ Sands to build the four E class boats – Sands, Sands Light, High Rock and Strong Back – to help in the revitalisation of the sport of sculling two years ago, powered ahead of Kevin Deveaux and Stephen Rolle to capture the title.
#“I wasn’t prepared for it, but as the builder of these boats and a teacher, I had to go out there and show them how to sail them,” said Gibson, a teacher at Anatol Rodgers High School. “When you get out there and do it, you encourage the younger people to come out and sail too.
#“Sculling is one of the things that made us who we are as a people. Back in the day, we went into the boats and had to scull to get from one island to the next. So we want to see if we can get more people involved in the sport. It’s coming bigger and I’m proud of what’s going on. I’m a winner whether I sail or not because I built the boats.”
#For Deveaux, who showed up with his daughter and a neighbour, after looking at the boats from a distance, he made up his mind to come out and try his hand at sailing in them.
#“I know I’m a good sculler, but coming out here, the competition was pretty tough,” he said. “The older guys knew what they were doing. It was good not having a chance to scull in a boat like that for a very long time. I was very pleased, especially with the crowd support. I enjoyed myself. It was fun. I’m ready to go back on one again.”
#Since launching the sculling competition last year in the St Valentine’s Massacre last year, Stephen Rolle has been competing in just about every one that took place in the Family Islands. In fact, he won the Grand Bahama series to make it to the National Championships where he was second overall.
#Picking up another third place on Sunday, Rolle said he had a chance to win, but he didn’t get around the marker in time.
#“Today, I had plenty energy. I just missed the turn,” he said. “But I enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to competing in more races this year.”
#Jimmy Sands, as usual, was thrilled by what he saw.
#“It was a bit cool, but a fabulous day,” he said. “It was excellent for sailing. Strong breeze, the sun was out and there was some strong breeze. The sculling went off extremely well. We had a lot of competitors out there who wanted to try it for the first time. So this event is growing day by day.
#“I can’t be more pleased with what I see. Every time we put on this event, it’s becoming more and more popular with people becoming more and more interested. It adds another event for everybody to enjoy whenever they come out to the regattas and homecoming.”
#Lynden Johnson, the marketing manager at Bahamian Brewery and Sands Beer, said the regatta went very well with a lot of participation from the sailors and spectators.
#“I think it’s catching now. This is the second year that we have hosted the event in the St Valentine’s Regatta and judging from what we see here from the shorelines, the crowd is really getting into it,” Johnson said. “Everybody has been pulling for their favourite boats.”
#Although they are one of the official sponsors of the BTC Carifta Games, the Bahamian Brewery and Sands Beer intend to travel to Eleuthera for their next sculling event over the Easter holiday weekend