2011 Lagos State water regatta
Like the carnival which preceded it the previous day, this year’s 2011 Lagos State water regatta held on Sunday, May 1 did not lack spectacles.
Spectators at Caverton, Lagos Motor Boat Club, Aquamarine Boat Club, Peninsula Resort, Lekki Green Area and other designated viewing areas had a ball watching the event, now in its second year. The regatta debuted in 2010 as part of the Lagos Black Heritage Week and was held as one of the activities of the same event this year, though on a smaller but well thought-out scale.
About 28 vessels - boats and canoes from various divisions of the state - participated in the opening cultural display on the Lagos Lagoon. The beautifully decorated boats carried singing and dancing troupes from across the state. One of the vessels had exuberant masquerades while another contained Zangbeto from Badagry. Another from Imota, one of the ancient settlements of Lagos, had a group of Gelede masquerades aboard. Even the colourful Fanti from Lagos Island was not exempted as the vessels sailed along the lagoon, to the admiration of onlookers.
Representing the state governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, the Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General, Supo Shasore, attended the festivities. He toured the regatta route, accompanied by a mini flotilla, before retiring to the Aquamarine Boat Club to watch activities, including the swimming competition, canoe race, kayaking, sailing and jet skiing.
Some 10 young ladies participated in the 500 metres female open water swimming competition. They swam across the lagoon from Oyinkan Abayomi Street to the Civic Centre, shepherded by several motorboats ready to ferry safely anyone unable to complete the race. Dupe Ogunfuyi, Justina Iwajomo and Leila Japheth came in first, second and third positions, respectively. The men’s competition featured 29 participants, with Williams Steven emerging first. The kayak competition, involving children and adults, and the canoe race were no less interesting.
“I am overjoyed that at last, what one has anticipated over the years, they are now becoming a reality; the utilisation of our waterways in all dimensions. Our re-finding waterways as a veritable form of relaxation, recreation and most importantly transportation, my spirits are buoyed,” said Rasheed Gbadamosi, one of the judges who adjudicated the regatta.
The art patron, who commended the organisers, expressed his confidence that the regatta “is going to get better and better” in the coming years.
Earlier, the chair of the regatta committee, Segun Jawando, had highlighted the importance of the waterways. He said they “represent many important aspects of our daily lives. They are a means of transportation, source of food, means of recreation as well as spiritual engagement. This water regatta is being staged to showcase these aspects and enable us to appreciate the great resource that is within our reach; and to encourage us to utilise it even more than we do today.”
Jawando also reiterated the committee’s resolve to make the regatta more inclusive and increase the number of activities while calling for support from the private sector. “We acknowledge that a lot more needs to be done and we would like to call on the private sector, particularly those who see an opportunity for commerce, to come forward with suggestions to improve the regatta and help make it a landmark marine event in Africa and subsequently the world.”