Carlin Forbes found a passion in building model sail boats when he was a child. On Saturday, you could find the 86-year-old man bent over boats perched in the Bambarra Beach sand as he rigged sails, making sure the vessels were ready to race.
The building process is an intricate one, he says, one that takes at least a week. First the hull is constructed with wood from the gum-elemi tree. Once the shape is set, the painting begins. The mast, sail, rudder and bow come last.
“I build them and rig them and sail them,” Carlin said. “We just did it when we were small for fun.”
The island tradition transformed into what is now the Valentine’s Day Cup thirteen years ago when Bambarra Beach-born Daniel O. Forbes – a fond figure on North and Middle Caicos and owner of Daniel’s Cafe – presented his wife, Sara Kaufman, with her own model sail boat for her birthday. A fleet of six was built and the first race took off in 2000.
Daniel gestures toward the crowd of people swarming the beach, the rows of boats lining the shore.
“And this is what happened 13 years later,” he said with a laugh.
Wading through tiny pale blue swells, seasoned sailors coaxed their smaller, less experienced counterparts as they guided miniature model sail boats toward the shore.
It was Brentania Smith’s first time sailing of any sort. At 8, she dreams of building her own miniature sailing vessel and taking it out to sea. The way the wind catches the sails and springs the hull forward reminds her of flying.
She decided Saturday to attempt the class-C boat race for boats under two feet – the first of the day at the 13th annual Valentine’s Day Cup.
Spectators looked on from sandy towels and picnic tables as they munched on cracked conch, fresh fish, and peas and rice
Amid the scrambling of competing children and their coaches, Brentania and her coach Dr. Sam Slattery reached land first.
Nervous? No doubt. And admittedly difficult.
“I thought I was just going to have fun out there,” Brentania said after the race before pausing with a smile. “And I did have fun out there.”
Photography by Anita & Chanelle
Words by Lia Ganosellis
Part 2 to follow this afternoon.