Press Release : VALENTINES DAY CUP : Saturday February 13, 2010
Author Sara J Kaufman , Middle Caicos Co-op 01/27/10
Amazingly, it is now ten years since the first festival to promote and encourage the traditional TCI handcarved model sailboats was held. Back in 1999, on the remote island of Middle Caicos those who knew how to carve the toys and those who thought this carving was a treasure and those who figured they could sort out some promotion all sat down and hatched a simple plan….let’s get this traditional sport going again! And so Daniel O Forbes, proprietor of the Middle Caicos Co-op, ordered the first ten boats of the fleet from well known local sloop builders Headley Forbes, Marcus Forbes and Carlin Forbes. In the days before electricity, radio, TV and computers, children learned from their fathers and uncles how to carve and sail these boats on the shores and ponds of each island in TCI. Indeed, the boats built in Grand Turk (where there are no gum-elemi trees) are very different in style and shape.
The boats are handcarved from sections of the gum-elemi tree, chopped down and dragged home, skinned, hatcheted into rough shape, then trimmed, carved and sanded to sleek hulls for racing through the water. It is easy to see the craftsman’s hands in each model as the hull shape reflects his sloop lines! Once the boat hulls are done two next steps await. Keel can be added if the shape of boat and depth of the gum-elemi hull require it, and all the hulls now stand ready to be fully rigged. The rigging is an exact duplicate of the large sloops – mast, stays, jibsail, mainsail, boom, tie down etc – are all replicated in miniature to fit each size model boat created. Boats from as small as 15” to as large as 62” have been carved and rigged since 1999, and over 100 boats in total have been sold to owners in many countries, including TCI. The MCCo-op maintains a fleet of 20 – 30 boats for teaching, for demonstrations, for fun and for the annual festival. Many model boats were sold to owners living in Provo, and these boats, as well as model boats built and owned in North and Middle Caicos, are all warmly welcomed back for the race day event. Classes “A”, “B”’ and “C” allow boats to compete against boats their own size, with hilarious results. Trophies and cash prizes for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners stimulate the competition, and every boat captain sailing at the Valentine Day Cup gets a free red cap!
The Valentines Day Cup is a fine example of modern promotion, small business and community resources working together and bringing to life a traditional sport – and it’s a lot of fun too! It is a cultural heritage that has now been firmly ensconced on the modern calendar thanks to the efforts of the Middle Caicos Co-op. The local church (Church of God of Prophecy) has been cooking all the food for the day since 2004, keeping up with the growth in popularity of the festival and leaving no one hungry each year! All thanks and praises to their Pastor Shirley Smith and her great congregation for the cooking and feeding each year – and we look forward to tempting treats this year too. All the funds they raise go toward the children and youth programs of the church in Middle Caicos. The music has, of course, always been a big part of the day - cheerful, bright, often live local talent, always making you glad to jump up and dance! This year North Caicos DJ “Gently B” will bring the music home, with guest “Dr. Love” (Bambarra born!).
The sponsorship for this event is widely varied and major donors have included PPC; TCIG Culture Department; Forbes, Forbes & Forbes Realty Ltd; Liquors Plus; TCIBank North Caicos, Radio 92.5fm, Business Solutions; Wendy Been; – and countless friends/family who help on the event day keeping it all going!! Companies are encouraged to buy a sloop to sail in their name, and donate it to the fleet, or promise bring it back each year for the race event! Get a boat for your family and race it on your nearest pond together, then show off your skills at the annual races! Appeals are out now to find funds for trophies, captains hats, music expenses, and food supplies for the church…please call 231-4884 or email middlecaicos @tciway.tc if you wish to help financially, or have a great fundraising idea!!
So plan on it now – SATURDAY FEBRUARY 13TH, 2010 – Valentines’ Day Cup model sailboat races at Bambarra beach, Middle Caicos. Pack a cooler & beachtoys, take the ferry over to Sandy Point, rent a car on North Caicos and come on down to Bambarra beach for a day of great fun! The public beach site has cool shade from casuarina pines, shallow beach for kids, tiki huts, bandstand, toilets……..in every way a fabulous destination and a very special event. For more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org, call Daniel 232-6132 or Sara 231-4884