Grand Bahama Regatta

'Celebrating Our Diversity Through Sailing'

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Update: Riviera Beach Mayor Ronnie L. Felder did go to Freeport last month, he did meet with the island administrator, he did have lunch with area business leaders—and he did see who won the Regatta.

That’s because Mayor Felder did accomplish his goal: to re-connect Riviera Beach with Freeport in their sister-city relationship and to attend Regatta.

Congratulations to the Acklins Island-based King & Knights sailing team, shown above with main Regatta organizer Chervita Campell, which won the 2019 Grand Bahama Regatta & Homecoming sailing race. Fifteen C-Class and E-Class sloops participated in the annual race, which was held at Smith’s Point and drew a record crowd. Read about it here.

That crowd included Mayor Felder. He said it was beneficial.

“I was glad to go to learn about their government, their businesses and their water-based economy,” Mayor Felder said. “I see lots of possibilities.” Look at the Mayor onsite below.

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Now, beginning August 4, a 12-person delegation from Freeport is coming to Riviera Beach! The trip is part of the sister-city re-launch and, while here, plans are for the delegation to attend the Jamaica Independence Celebration on Sunday in West Palm Beach; a meet-n-greet lunch in Riviera Beach on Monday; and then, Tuesday is Tour Day. Tropical Shipping, Port of Palm Beach and Peanut Island, all will see the Freeport government leaders (see list here)—and Mayor Felder.

Come back here to see what it looked like.

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This just in: Riviera Beach Mayor Ronnie L. Felder has announced that he plans to attend Regatta, and not just to learn about E-class sloops, either. He’s bringing Freeport’s sister back for a visit—and you can join him if you like!

Elected officials in Riviera Beach and Freeport signed an agreement in 2012 establishing a ‘sister-city relationship,’ meaning they would work together for the benefit of both cities. Which made sense, since there’s strong historical and familial connections between the two cities, as well as strong similarities in geography, demographics and economy.

And, for a few years, it worked well, with cross-Atlantic exchanges between educators, athletes and performers, among others. But it has since gotten a bit, well, sleepy, and there’ve been new Councilmembers elected on both sides. No official visits in a while.

The Mayor’s decision came after former Freeport City Councilor—and main Regatta organizer—Chervita Campbell spoke before the Riviera Beach City Council on June 5. She had been a signer on the original sister-sister agreement in January 2012 and thought it would be good for both cities to reconnect. Watch a video of her presentation below.

Mayor Felder actually visited Freeport in April, just after his election, and met with Freeport and Grand Bahama officials, including Deputy Prime Minister K. Peter Turnquest- and Ms. Campbell. He got some ideas, learned about some issues and, then, came home. But he didn't forget.

From left, Minister of State for Grand Bahama, Senator Kwasi Thompson; Mayor Felder; Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest; and Harcourt Brown, the permanent secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister. (Photo credit.)
From left, Minister of State for Grand Bahama, Senator Kwasi Thompson; Mayor Felder; Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest; and Harcourt Brown, the permanent secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister. (Photo credit.)

He asked Ms. Campbell to come back to Riviera Beach and make her pitch. It isn’t clear yet if any of his colleagues on the dais will also attend, but Mayor Felder says he’s getting interest from area residents, local business owners and some other city officials.

"This is about re-connecting," Mayor Felder said. "I look forward to seeing what that can look like and how it benefits both cities."

Join him! Take that vacation and head to Freeport for a grand weekend of live music, boat races and Bahamian fun! There’s even activities available for young people; see information below about the week long Summer Camp during Regatta for all ages.

Discount travel packages have also been created, including at two of the island’s best hotels. The hotel discounts are available to any Palm Beach County resident attending Regatta and, going forward, will be available year-round to all Riviera Beach residents—thanks to the standing sister-city agreement.

During Regatta, there are plans for a meet-and-greet on Friday, July 19th between stateside visitors and locals onsite at Smith's Point and, then, on Saturday, a discussion and presentations about the two cities related to the sister-city  agreement and how to ensure it is strong, stale and continuous.

If both sides want to continue, then a Freeport delegation will visit Riviera each in August to sign-and strengthen-a new agreement. View Ms. Campbell's PowerPoint presentation below to see why it makes so much sense.

And both sides thank former Riviera Beach Mayor Thomas A. Masters, who was the singular elected official who came up with the original idea for the sister-city launch. He created it, he pushed it and he got others on the team. Mayor Felder, who’s tenure follows Mr. Masters, appreciates it.

"I thank Mayor Masters for creating it in this office,” he said, “and from here, we will continue."

Riviera Beach Mayor Thomas A. Masters and members of City Council of Freeport and other government officials in 2012.
Riviera Beach Mayor Thomas A. Masters and members of City Council of Freeport and other government officials in 2012.

And for more Regatta information, send an email here or just check back here for updates.

Got kids? You can still come!

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