Craig Symonnette adds extra special touch to GB Sports Promotion Association event

QUIET SPORTS STALWART – Craig Symonette, pictured with Sarah St. George of the Grand Bahama Port Authority, is one of the most unsung national sports stalwarts in the country’s history. (PHOTO BY SHAYNE STUBBS)

He is as unassuming as a well-traveled international sailing star could ever be.

Craig Symonette, the 62-year-old 5.5 metre sailing stalwart, graced the Grand Bahama Sports Promotion Association’s marquee event, the Edward St. George Memorial Invitational Golf Tournament in Freeport, Grand Bahama, with his presence over the weekend. Symonette has always moved under the radar, in my view. He operates in an unsung manner. Quite frankly, I don’t think there has been the appropriate level of appreciation for Symonette, despite his accomplishments during a lengthy and distinguished international sailing career.

The way he quietly moves along through life, belies the excitement that has enveloped him during many world class and recreational competitions; and the high profile of an immediate family which includes the first premier of The Bahamas (his father Sir Roland Theodore “RT” Symonette), older sailing/business iconic brother (Bobby Symonette), and younger brother (noted politician Brent Symonette).

On Saturday, there he was, low-key, but genial as always, a part of the large 60-player field for the second annual event that enables the GB Sports Promotion Association to pay tribute to the late Edward St. George. He was a member of the four-man Lyford Cay team alongside Jim Wilson, Douglas Cowper and Vernon Wells. It is unlikely that even those of his group, register in their minds often, the true status of Symonette. He is for the most part, simply their very good friend. No doubt, Symonette is fine with that.

I would definitely wager that the vast majority of the players just saw him as another opponent, with absolutely no recognition of a three-time bronze medalist in the World 5.5 Metre Championships, representing his beloved country; and also a high caliber international sailing competitor. I first met Symonette personally when he was a part of the Olympic Delegation in 1972. The sailing competition took place in the port city of Kiel, a Baltic Sea coastline township. So, Symonette, brother Bobby, Percy Knowles and other national sailing representatives were detached from the rest of us in Munich. He thus, did not know initially, of our closeness to the massacre of the Israeli Olympic Team members and that the one who got away, actually, in great fear, knocked on the downstairs door of Team Bahamas’ quarters as he was fleeing the horrific development.

Nevertheless, the 1972 Bahamian Olympic Team was just one of the many chapters of Bahamian sports history, in which Craig Symonette would overtime, be a part of, and indeed, prominently in a goodly amount of instances.

His team with the total score of 136, finished out of the top five, headed by the 122 score of Freeport Oil (Otto Fountain Gizmo Moss, Randy Cooper and Tony Cooper). It was a distinctive flavor though, that he brought to the affair, succeeding in broadening the participation base for the tournament. As is his character, very modestly, he said: “I really enjoyed myself and next year there will be four teams from Lyford Cay.” That’s the kind of endorsement that rings special for the GB Sports Promotion Association and its associates.

Placing second on Saturday, was the Gouthro & Co. team (Chris Gouthro, Sean Donahue, Domonic Wilson and Gaston Lapron); followed in third by the Grand Bahama Port Authority A Team (Rupert Hayward, Brad Culmer, James Beaumont, and Rob Speller); in fourth was BTC (Hansel Collie, Ricardo Lightbourne, Broderick Pinder and Philip Pinder) and in fifth was BORCO-Buckeye (Gregory Cooper, Ryan Herry, Hanford Bain and Leroy Laing).

The second annual Edward St. George Memorial Invitational Golf Tournament is in the books. Soon the GB Sports promotion Association will begin focusing on November of 2018. The memory of Edward St. George will live on through the tournament, but at times the occasion is ripe to salute also, the ones who most seem to forget.

Congratulations Craig Symonette, for all you have done to enhance the Bahamas Sports Brand!

(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup1504@gmail.com).

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