Over 100 sailing enthusiasts are expected to participate in a regatta to be held in Gales Point Manatee on Baron Bliss Day.

This event will mark the first time that a regatta is held in Gales Point on Baron Bliss Day. The event is sure to satisfy sailing fans keeping in mind that this year the traditional Baron Bliss Regatta has been postponed from March 9 until March 18.

The Gales Point regatta will see competition in several categories: sailing dories 16 feet and under for young crews, sailing dories 16 feet and under for adult crews, nontraditional 22-foot sloops, seagull sloops 18 feet and under, bosun type class 14 feet and under, catamarans, sailing dories for mixed crews, lighters (open), and racing sloops (open). Prizes to be awarded will total over $3000.

Sir George Brown, one of the regatta's organizers, told Reporter that he expects a great crowd on hand for the event. Brown, a former member of the Belize Harbour Committee who retired in 1998, said that upon learning that the traditional Baron Bliss regatta had been postponed, he suggested to the committee that a regatta event could still be held successfully in Gales Point, in light of other major sporting events such as the Ruta Maya race and the Belmopan Cycling Classic taking place simultaneously. "I did not want Baron Bliss Day to go by without any regatta races," he said.

Brown, who has been involved in regatta events for over 50 years, said that Gales Point was ideal for the event because not only do most of the sailors that participate in regatta events hail from that village, but also the interest in regatta events is still strong in that area. "Baron Bliss would have preferred for it to be held where the interest is still strong," he added.

According to Brown, the regatta races appear to have lost a great deal of fan interest over the years for several reasons. He cites three main reasons: the arrival of technology, and the greater presence of competing sports such as football, cycling, basketball, and canoe races. "The skiffs with engines have been making sailing boats obsolete," Brown said.

All is not lost, yet. Villagers of Sarteneja have not abandoned regatta races and have been participating actively in recent events. Training youngsters from an early age can revive interest in the sport. In the interest of keeping the regatta tradition alive, Brown has even given some of his boats to assist in training younger sailors to participate in the regatta, and he has been actively involved in the process.

Brown expects a great crowd of participants and regatta fans at the event this Friday. In fact, he added, regatta fans have been visiting Gales Point village over the last few years on Baron Bliss Day, hoping to see a regatta; and this time they will not be disappointed.
While Brown admits that current interest in regattas is not what it once was, he remains optimistic that the sport will make a comeback. "I will continue to push for the revival of regatta races. I know the beauty of it, and I want others to experience it," he said.