Due to our physical position on the globe, the Turks and Caicos Islands have always been a sea-faring nation. The ability to build and operate boats here represented survival for millennia.
As recently as the turn of the 1900’s, there were dozens of boat builders in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Even into the early 1980’s, Caicos sloops were sailing to Hispaniola to trade dried conch for durable goods. Cargo and passenger boats also sailed regularly to and from the Bahamas. A few Caicos sloops are still being built, but there are only a handful of TCI boat builders still plying their trade today for simple recreation, and a universal love of sailing.
David Douglas, founder, and current President of TCISA recalls fondly his arrival in the TCI… “I was fortunate to arrive here from the Bahamas when the Caicos Sloop was still being used for trade. I marvel at the abilities of the TCI boat builders who were able to craft vessels out of a bushy country with very few resources, and then navigate those vessels over unforgiving seas.”
Of course… Here in the Turks and Caicos Islands, we are blessed with some of the purest water and most consistent trade winds on the planet, what better place can there be for enjoying our beloved beautiful sport.
In the late 1980’s modern recreational sailing found its feet on these shores. Mike “Speedo” Rosati set up the first sailing and teaching facility at the original Ocean Club on Grace Bay. Mike catered to windsurfers and dinghy sailors out of a purpose-built structure right on the beach. Mike was very generous with his boats, and at the time this is where most small sailboat enthusiasts “scratched their itch”. By the mid 1990’s, Mike’s efforts had helped establish the Hobie Wave as the recreational boat of choice on Provo and multiple resorts had acquired them for their guests.
April 1990 saw the inauguration of the now infamous “Fools Regatta”. Eight cruising multihulls came together on April Fool’s Day in Sapodilla Bay to stage one of the first “modern” boat races in the TCI. The event soon shifted to Grace Bay and became an all-class (open) regatta which, due to the increasing difficulty of staging the popular and growing event “in season” was moved to June. June marked the beginning of what was affectionately known as “Silly Season” due to the lack of summer tourists and very little to otherwise occupy the boat operators.
“Silly Season”: The perfect time for a “Fools” Regatta.
Capt. Tim Ainley’s catamaran “Beluga” and Mike Robertson’s trimaran “Minx” from the very first “April Fools Multihull Regatta” can still be seen cruising our waters today.
In 1998, the Hobie Wave was introduced to the Fools Regatta for the first time, and we had our first one-design racing event bringing enthusiastic and wannabe racing sailors out of the woodwork. That same summer Mike Rosati’s sailing facility became the nucleus of the Provo Sailing Club (PSC) formed by a few of those enthusiastic and dedicated sailors who “chipped in” to buy Hobie Waves and donated them to the cause. Initially PSC members raced twice a week, mixing and matching their Club boats with now “Commodore” Mikes six boats.
The “Provo Sailing Club” or PSC, initially operating out of a plywood box on the beach next to Ocean Club relocated in 2009 to a wonderfully appointed facility at The Bight Park and with a fully volunteer crew of enthusiasts commenced regular charitable “learn-to-sail” and “learn-to-race” teaching programs for children and adults throughout the community.
It was a handful of founding PSC members who, keen to expand young sailors’ opportunities, went on to establish our Turks and Caicos Islands Sailing Association (TCISA), the National Governing Body for Sailing in the TCI. The sailing center in the Bight Park was established by the TCISA, with the blessings and financial support of the Government who were keen to support the community sailing programs, specifically targeted and freely available to the underprivileged youth of the islands.
In 2014 after five long years of dedicated lobbying TCISA reached an important milestone becoming recognized as a Member National Authority (MNA) by World Sailing; the World Governing Body for the sport of sailing (formerly ISAF).
Having established a position as an Associate Member Nation; Turks and Caicos Islands Sailing Athletes were finally able to represent their country (with the acronym “TCA” proudly emblazoned on their sails) on the world stage. Since its formation, the TCISA has contested five Youth World Championships in the Laser (ILCA).
In recognition of their commitment to community programs, the humble PSC were supported by the TCISA and together with the dedicated commitment of an all-volunteer group were able to build up in just a few short years, a significant fleet of boats made up of Olympic Class Lasers, Picos, Optimists and of course the beloved Hobie Wave beach cat.
In 2018, the PSC generously passed on the facility and their fleet to the newly formed Provo Sailing “Academy” (PSA) who have in-turn driven forward with a fresh mandate and focus, recently achieving the recognition of the renowned Royal Yachting Association as an official RYA Training School. They have a full time RYA certified instructor and with support from the International “Andrew Simpson Foundation” and ongoing support from local businesses have maintained and recently added six RS Zests to the original fleet.
Supporting Turks and Caicos Islands culture, the TCISA promote and participate in the organization of the much cherished annual “Valentines Day Regatta”. A traditional model boat racing event held on Middle Caicos each year at Bambarra Beach where young and old come from near and far to go head-to-head in battle for the coveted championship prizes.
Sailing is the heritage sport of the Turks and Caicos Islands. The TCISA is dedicated to the beautiful sport and leisure of sailing in all its forms. We celebrate the sailing traditions of this country and are particularly keen to support community sailing programs that benefit the youth, particularly those less fortunate in our society who are otherwise unable to afford participating in what can be a significantly expensive endeavor.
Since its foundation, the TCISA, its member associations and clubs, have grown in leaps and bounds. The children taught in the early days are now grown and participating in all manner of watersports activities and industries. They are primed to continue the significant efforts of our founding members, passing on their love of sailing to the next generation.