Deep-rooted sports passion motivates’The Sailing Barber’
There are a lot of reasons why The Bahamas is the greatest sporting country in the world, per capita.
We have a natural talent pool of athletes second to none. There is a great wealth of dedicated sports administrators. In recent decades, the various central administrations have demonstrated a growing recognition of the immense value of sports to nation building. As a rule, we are a people who watch and learn really quickly.
Then, there is that cadre of innovative people who with their insight, courage and love of a good challenge, ventured on courses which served to greatly enhance the nation’s sports landscape.
Eleazer’The Sailing Barber’Johnson is one such icon.
Those who have come to know Johnson over the last three decades as a sailing regatta aficionado, see him as perhaps the most colorful member of his fraternity. Oh, he brags a lot, particularly about his’Lady In Red’B-Class craft. When he first came on the scene, opposing sailors and skippers learned very quickly that it did not matter to Johnson whether he won or lost when”talking time”came around.
He was often more boastful after a loss than when he won. You couldn’t out-talk Johnson. He and his fellow Acklins Islander’King’Eric Gibson will somehow manage to get their points across.
Johnson brought a delightful element into sailing. He brought that flair to the sport. His magnetism resulted in a new kind of following for regatta sailing. Once, other than some of the crew, the sailing crowd was made up mostly of matured and older men of sea experience. A younger set gravitated toward regatta sailing because of Johnson.
He came up with the masterful idea of a catch-me-if-you-can regatta whereby his’Lady In Red’is allowed a 10 minutes or more lead and bigger A-Class boats try to catch her. The sloop has been caught just a few times in more than two decades. Yes, Johnson is the owner of quite an elusive’lady’.
This event takes place always around the Valentine’s Day weekend every year and it has become one of the signature sporting affairs on the annual calendar in the whole country. It is indeed a rather long chapter in our sporting history that he continues to write.
It’s an ironic situation though. Few know that the gregarious Johnson was once considered an introvert. When he officially got into the barbering trade under his mentor Sky Ferguson, he was very quiet. In Sky’s Barber Shop, the talk was heavy on sports always.
Johnson never got involved in the discussions and friendly arguments. My, he certainly changed.
It was a good change. I’ve saluted his contribution to regatta sailing before. It is always good though to continue to encourage people like Johnson who mean so much to our national sports development.
Kudos for you Johnson!Keep up the good work in sailing.
(To respond to this column, please contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org)