Non Mariners Race Bermuda
This event, held on the first Sunday in August every year, will probably qualify as one of the funniest and most hilarious events in Bermuda. You can call it anything but a race. But for decades the event is traditionally known as non mariners race.
Many local families and even tourists participate in this event. They make their own innovative vessels from virtually anything they can think of. Don't be surprised to see even picnic tables on floats. One is not expected to use paddles, oars, engines or sails to powers these vessels.
So with such funny hand crafted vessels none of which are seaworthy, the goal is not to win, but to lose. Non Mariners race is held at the quiet and sheltered Mangrove Bay at Sandys Parish, and is organized by the Sandys Boat Club
So what is the origin of such an event? The story says that decades back a few drunken buddies started a debate on whether a baby carriage like a perambulator can actually float on water and be used to sail. They did not stop at that and went a step forward to give a shape to their weird vision, that too within a week. They chose Hamilton Harbor
and launched a baby buggy at the Albuoy's Point
, and tried to sail it across. But the carriage sank.
Non Mariners Race Bermuda
Photo: Non Mariners Race Facebook run by Sandys Boat Club
Although their vision failed, but the non-mariners race was born in Bermuda. Next year it had drawn a lot of interest from the local families. They made strange looking vessels unworthy of sail but tried to sail them with incompetent crews on board. After all the goal was to try weird stuff with fun and frolics. They soon formed a 'Society' of the non mariners and the society quickly defined their motto: "The sea shall not have them. The sea does not want them." The non mariners society also called the race as "Non Race".
Non mariners race kept growing in popularity until they were finally booted out of the Hamilton Harbor. In one such occasion, an entry that created a vessel out of a bus on oil drums, sank on the cruise channel in Hamilton Harbor and that too only a few hours before a cruise ship was about to enter the channel.
Since then and for over two decades the event is now being held at the quieter Mangrove Bay. In recent years, tourists from US and Canada have also started participating in this.
The event starts with a parade by oddly dressed Bagpipe
and drums band. And then all the strange looking vessels are launched one by one. Once there was a vessel crafted like a rocket with a person strapped on it. The vessels usually have slogans written on them referring to local political scams or incidents.
In one of the recent non mariners race, the float that came first had the picture of Bermuda Industrial union's leader on it, referred to the union's recent agitation against KFC's food outlet and carried the message "United we float, in pieces we sink".
Once the entrants push their vessels into the bay, their main job is to stay afloat for a while shouting at fellow entrants, enjoying life even with drinks. It's a light hearted family fun event and has been a local tradition running for decades.
However, there are rankings given out by a team of judges. And the ranking depends not on the quality or speed of the float, but on the overall humorous appeal it is being able to generate with its theme and makeup. The one which gets the first spot may be the first one to sink, it does not matter. And there are many non-sportsman methods that are put to use to get the first ranking, like offering chilled beer to the judges. You will also see kids jumping off the docks, many flotillas on the water to enjoy swimming and more. At the end of the day, you will find many people gathering at the Somerset Country Squire and Pub
, having beer and other drinks to give a final finishing to the day's enjoyment.
There are no entry fees to participate. Donations are accepted that go to the local charities. The Non-Mariners Race is organized by Sandys Boat Club, although the event looks quite disorganized and chaotic, it is probably by design. It is held annually on the first Sunday of the month of August. The Cup Match holiday weekend comes to an end with this.
Non-Mariners race remains cancelled. However, some tour boats (such as Uber Vida) are planning raft-up boat parties at Mangrove Bay on August 1, 2021 starting from 12 noon.
Event remained cancelled and raft up parties were not permitted due to Covid Pandemic.
The event remained cancelled this year as well. However, hundreds of revelers came to Mangrove bay by boat and took to the water using inflatable and some even dived from the boats and enjoyed swims. This was followed with raft up parties.
The event was cancelled. Reasons cited by Sandy's Boat Club... "dwindling participation, a change in the economics of the event, and increasing difficulty in finding volunteers to organise and run the affair".
August 6, 2017
July 31, 2016, 10am to 6pm
2014 Non-Mariners Event Updates
Venue: Mangrove Bay, Sandys. Date: August 3, 2014. Like every year, there was a huge gathering. Most floats sunk within minutes. There was one which paid tribute to the newspaper Bermuda Sun which closed down in end-July this year, another one was themed on the Jet-Gate controversy because of which Premier Cannonier had to resign.
2013 Non Mariners Race Updates
The event was held on August 4, 2013 (on Sunday) at Mangrove Bay. The overall theme was political satire. The makeshift flotilla named "Cannonair" captained by Tony Ward won the first prize. The vessel which was assembled on the shore (as per the tradition of the event), was a model of an aircraft complete with wings and a propeller. In fact Premier Craig Cannonier made a guest appearance wearing a watermelon helmet and pretending to rotate the propeller. Judges were more interested in how well the vessels sank rather than how well they performed.
By Raj Bhattacharya
Raj, a seasoned travel writer and Bermuda destination expert, has extensive global travel experience. This website reflects his profound insights, garnered over nearly two decades of dedicated findings and research on the island. Raj has assisted countless Bermuda-bound visitors by providing direct, personalized responses to their queries and imparting his wealth of knowledge through this platform. This site serves as an indispensable guide for those seeking informed and reliable insights into Bermuda's treasures.
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