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How it All Began – Resurrecting a Proud Tradition and Starting a New One!

The Rage On Her MooringIt was 1996, and Chief Administrator, Mr. Everette Hart was determined to bring the tradition of Bahamian regattas, already an annual  fixture in Georgetown, Exuma and Long Island, to the Abacos. The best work boats, a select few, as proven in previous regattas would be invited to compete in the pristine and beautiful sailing waters of the Abacos. In announcing his plans, he also noted that it was regrettable that the Abacos no longer had their own sloop to enter. While Man O’ War residents and boat builders had built several fine, sturdy sloops to compete in the regattas, this participation waned and then ended, despite several national wins. Forward to the fall of 1997. Plans are now well underway for the First All Abaco Regatta to take place in April of the following year. Hope Town competitive sailors, Christopher “Big Red” Lightbourn and Jeff Gale hatched the idea of rescuing the pride of Abaco, the Abaco Rage, a sloop built by Man O’ War craftsmen in 1980 to revenge various defeats in years past, but sadly left to rot quietly after having won several Bahamian championships in a row.

bringing her back to lifeWhile she was in bad need of repair, she was solidly built and still a beauty to behold despite the several years of neglect. Between the dream, hatched no doubt one night over a few local beers amidst stories of competitions gone by and fueled by a pride in an Abaconian sailing tradition, and the reality of getting the Abaco Rage and fixing her up was several months. It was an 11th hour reprieve for the Rage and as Christopher recalls, “We arrived at the start line with the paint still drying!”

The 28 foot Abaco Rage, aptly named after the famous sea conditions around these islands in the fall months and also expressive of the competitive spirit of her sailors, willing to sail in all conditions and against all comers, came through for the original crew and sponsors. Surprising everyone but those who knew her well and what she was capable of, she won the Class A championship in the very first All Abaco Regatta in April 1998 with Jeff Gale as tactician and Christopher Lightbourn at the helm, ably assisted by a crew of 12 other sailors from Elbow Cay. It was a great start to a new Abaconian tradition! Between 1998 and 2002, the Rage, as she is affectionately known locally, won 3 out of the four Class A championships.

Rage Bling!Despite a bad start in the very first race of the second All Abaco Regatta in October, 1998 Regatta, the Rage pulled ahead to third place by the first mark, and on the down wind leg they passed the other two boats, crossing the finish line three minutes ahead of the nearest contender. Despite another bad start in the second race, the anchor line becoming fouled, they were up to full speed by the first mark, showing everyone what the Rage was capable, able to come from behind like the legendary horse, Secretariat, coming in second despite a very short up-wind second leg. By the third race, the crew performed the anchor pull flawlessly, hoisted sail and never looked back – except to see all the other contenders far behind. Abaco pride in its sailing history was now solidly re-established.

The original members eventually formed a group call the Abaco Rage Sailing Syndicate (A.R.S.S.) to support on-going efforts to keep the Rage in sailing shape and competitive trim, raising funds needed for on-going maintenance and repairs plus new sails and other gear. Keeping the Rage ready to race locally and nationally in the various regattas and to do Abaco proud takes a lot of time, dedication and funds. The ARRS has over 50 members who support in various ways. Current Admiral is Jeff Gale, Vice-Admiral is Chris “Big Red” Lightbourne, Treasurer Richard Cook and Secretary Stafford Patterson.

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Racing Schedule

Wednesday, April 4
Hope Town Sailing Club
Triangular Course
Charles Pollack Trophy

April 24 - 28
George Town, Exuma
National Family Island Regatta



Help Keep The Legend Racing!

Ever dream of racing on The Rage?
Well now you can! Join us for any of our scheduled club races and get a seat on the Rage for only 50 Bucks. You will have the experience of a lifetime and help keep the legend racing!
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Dave Pahl

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