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Valentine’s Day Cup – A Favorite Turks and Caicos Tradition And They’re Off!
It’s a frantic race to the finish! The fans and spectators are cheering wildly on the sidelines, and the sun is sparkling, warming the bright turquoise waves, as the boats bob, curtail and slice through the water towards the finish line……
The annual Valentine’s Day Cup Race is underway. This local tradition began at the turn of the millennium, when Daniel O. Forbes, the proprietor of the Middle Caicos Co-Op decided to bring back a beloved local pastime. Back in the day, long before iPhones and iPads and, well, even television, fathers and uncles passed on the tradition of carving model sailboats to the children of the Turks and Caicos. Using the rare and sprawling gum-elemi tree, native only to the Caribbean, the Bahamas and South and Central America, many an hour was spent carving out the hull, the mast, the jib, and the mainsail. Since the wood was soft, pliable and peeled easily off into thin layers, nearly the whole toy boat was able to be carved out in this fashion. The toys were then launched off into the bright, sparkling turquoise waters, while the children splashed about, squealing with delight as they raced their finelymade
Today, an even more impressive caliber of craftsmanship goes into the making of these fine miniature sailboats. Upon the races’ inception, Daniel O. Forbes hired the finest TCI sloop builders to construct an entire fleet of smallish sailboats that were nearly exact replicas to their larger counterparts. Other businesses and Islanders jumped in and presented their boats and the race was
Today’s race is a huge national holiday in which tourists, visitors, and locals alike turn out for food, games, live music and loads of fun. Spectators can treat themselves to conch fritters and rum punch from the many food stalls and regaee, calypso, and Rake’n’Scrape music forms the perfect backdrop to the festivities. The boats race in different divisions according to size. The boats range in size from 24 inches to over 40 inches and there is even a women’s division! The boats compete for cash prizes, and this year the Middle Caicos Sailboat Association fleet will be racing over 25 boats in addition to the other competing boats!
This year’s event promises to be a lively one and it will take place on February 15, 2014, on Bambarra Beach in Middle Caicos, from 11am-4pm. Caribbean Cruisin’ is offering a boat + bus combo to get you to Middle Caicos safely and hassle free! Don’t miss this regal regatta of sailboats……come on out and cheer on your favorite model sailboats, delight in the tasty treats of the Turks and enjoy some fun in the sun. You won’t regret it……of that we are certain. For a full program of this great event click here.
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