Basra Chairman Eddie Whan Sets the Record Straight, Clears BASRA Name

Originally published in The Freeport News |

Eddie Whan, Chairman, Bahamas Air Sea and Rescue Association (BASRA) Grand Bahama set the record straight regarding a recent video, which was widely circulated across social media over the weekend, of Coral Beach following BASRA Grand Bahama’s 49th Annual Swim Race on Saturday, August 17.

While many, in their comments, were of the view that the enormous amount of trash left behind on the beach was as a result of the BASRA event, Whan categorically denied that BASRA Grand Bahama had nothing to do with the garbage left behind.

In fact, Whan revealed that he along with members of the BASRA family and others, assisted in the clean-up effort the following morning.

Additionally, disparaging posts regarding Whan’s stance towards racism were also mentioned, which he again vehemently refuted.

Speaking with this daily on Monday, August 19, Whan expressed, “On behalf of BASRA, the Board of Directors, BASRA Grand Bahama, myself and my family, we would just like to clear up and make it known that we have seen the post just like everyone else has, scattered all around Facebook and, in general, most of it is all hogwash.

BASRA does not discriminate against anybody

“BASRA does not discriminate anybody, anyhow, anyway, any form – black, white, yellow, pink or purple. I can speak on behalf of family and myself. Anyone that wants to point the finger at anyone of us and say anything racial and say that we are in any way, shape or form, they do not know us.

“To set the record straight, anyone that knows me personally knows better. There is not a racist, prejudice bone in my body and I take sincere resentment to people insinuating that or hinting it, or otherwise.”

Garbage and fights was from a competing event

With respect to the mounds of garbage that was collected on Sunday on the beach, Whan explained, “Yes, there is a function that happens to the east of us and has been going one for some four years now. It progressively gets bigger and worse, every year. When I say worse, we have no problem with having fun … when I was younger, I do not think anyone had more fun than me.

“So, I am all on board for fun, but what I am not on board with is when you go there, have fun and there are fights, bottles on the beach right down the road from where we are having a family fun day.

“Again, please do not get me wrong; I am fully on board for fun and having a blast; however, we just ask that you be respectful with it. That is the word I am going to use, respectful with it,” Whan suggested.

He maintained that on Saturday ambulances had to called to collect youngsters, for various reasons, and transport them to the Rand Memorial Hospital.

“We know, I know that it did not happen at our function. It did not happen at BASRA Grand Bahama’s function.

“We know where it happened, and I would like to think that the organizers down the beach would please, in the future, think ahead and put themselves in the predicament.

“Respect your beach; respect your country.” — Eddie Whan

“Secondly, respect your beach; respect your country. I saw the pictures being circulated and if you want to know the God’s honest truth, what you saw on Facebook with the little bit of garbage you saw on the beach, and I say a little bit, even though it was a lot.

“It was a little bit compared to what was there and had already been cleaned up by the time the person took his camera out to take the pictures. He should have been there about 40 minutes earlier when there was really garbage on the beach; before we had the 70 bags of garbage already filled and sitting on the side, ready to be picked up.

“We cleaned up the entire beach, their side and ours. Justin Snisky and his three kids were there, myself, my fiancé and Sanitation Services, along with two other gentlemen that do not want their names mentioned,” he added.

According to Whan, the men said they were not at either event, but they wanted to do the right thing. “They told us they wanted to do it for their country and their island, not wanting any recognition.

“Sanitation Services’ workers were the best; they brought in their tractor and raked the beach, made probably about 15 trips with bags … that is how much garbage was out there, by the way.

“The clean-up took place on the morning of Sunday, August 18. That is what upset me; someone went out there at around 7:00 a.m. because my fiancé ran into the person on the beach and asked them what they were doing. That is when he said it was remnants from BASRA, and we told him that it was not remnants from BASRA; it had nothing to do with BASRA.”

Whan said that for the last 49 years, the function is held that day, organizers close up that night and return the following morning to clean the beach.

By 11:00 Sunday morning the beach was spotless

He stressed that by 11:00 Sunday morning the beach was spotless. “And so, whoever took those pictures took them at 6:30 or something to 7:00 a.m. that morning and then posted them. Even when they took them there was 70 bags worth of garbage collected. That beach was not like that the entire day.”

He continued, “We did not mind helping to clean, but it is not fair. We cleaned up another’s mess because we knew ‘BASRA’s Swim Race was going to be blamed for it. BASRA had nothing to do with that, but we knew that because it was the same day as our event we were going to be blamed.

“I challenge the gentleman that was out there taking all of those pictures and putting it on Facebook; put your phone down, grab a bag and use your hands to pick up garbage instead of spreading totally false propaganda all over social media. Use social media to say, ‘Look at these people out here, working and cleaning.’ That is what he should have done or bent down and picked up some garbage himself.

“Finally, we beg everyone, have your fun but do it respectfully and please clean up after yourself. Be responsible for those attending your event, especially, those under age. Put yourselves in parents’ shoes, because it is not a good feeling, it is really not,” concluded Whan.


BASRA Grand Bahama 47th Annual Swim Race

Saturday, August 19 at 6 AM – 6 PM
Coral Beach, Freeport, Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas

This annual swim race and beach party raises funds for the Bahamas Air Sea Rescue Association (BASRA).
It features DJ music, and food and drinks will be on sale.



From the Freeport News:

The 47th Annual Bernie Butler/BASRA Swim race is still one of the top summertime attractions for residents and tourists alike.

The swim race and exhibition will take place once again August 19 at Coral Beach at 9:00 a.m.

Following the competition, along with the beach party that begins from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m, the U. S. Coast Guard will be back with their demonstrations, including a chase and a rescue scene.

BASRA Chairman Eddie Whan sat with The Freeport News and discussed that the committee is looking to “spice” things up, this year, a little more and noted some possible additions to the already activity-filled day.

“We’re looking to spice it up a little bit. We’re looking to have some games – Tug-O-War and maybe an egg toss. We’re bouncing around ideas to see what’s best suited for it.

“Again we just want to ask the support of the community financially and also to show up and support us on the day of, which they usually do. Every year we have a huge turn out.”

Whan mentioned that it has been facing some “financial difficulty” recently. Nonetheless Whan and company were determined to make sure the race would still happen, even if the funding had to be done personally.

“Mr. David Bell, Collin Rose, Brian Collins, Mr. Bradley’s going to be a part of it as every year that whole team does an excellent job on the time keeping, setting the course up. And with the start boats, and finish boats and safety boats and the buoys I want to thank all of them for all the years of support and we look forward to another 47 years.

“But right now it’s been rough, it’s going to be a little tough but we’re going to make it happen. It’s going to happen and we’re looking for tremendous support and we’re looking to make some money for BASRA this year.”

Competition wise, Whan disclosed that this year’s swim meet could feature a number of international participants.

“Internationally we have a lot more internationals that are showing more support this year and would like to come. Nassau, we always get a bunch of swimmers, and also from Grand Bahama.

“And it seems, this year, that we got a lot of interest from quite a few swimmers. So far by the looks of it we’re even topping last year and that was a tremendous swim.”

The funds raised by this event go a long way in helping BASRA provide top-notch emergency services. BASRA as an entity speaks to the entire community and was noted as “the organization that would assist you in your time of need day or night.”

Speaking with Whan this past Friday, he revealed that last Wednesday there were two rescues that occurred.

“We did two rescues on Wednesday and communicated with the Defense Force to get in touch with Nassau for a sailboat that was in distress off the Berry Islands.

“We do a lot more than people do know. This is a daily activity for us. We get phone calls whether we’re directly involved in the rescue or whether we coordinate. Sometimes it’s beyond our reach off Grand Bahama and so we’d liaison with the Defence Force who would take it from there and look after it.”

He furthered that some missions would take efforts from BASRA, the Coast Guard, Defence Force and sometimes a private aircraft.”
The event is a community-based effort to garner as much support as they possibly can.

A number of sponsorship tents have been sold and will be on full display come August 19.

BASRA Swim Race and Beach Party Coverage on ZNS

The 47th Annual Bernie Butler/BASRA Swim race is scheduled to take place August 19 at Coral Beach from 9:00 a.m. the much anticipated annual event is the largest Swim race and beach party of the year.

Directly after the competition is the beach party from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m, the U. S. Coast Guard returns with their dramatic demonstrations which includes a chase and a rescue scene.

BASRA Chairman Eddie Whan explained that this year they plan even more activities than before including; Tug-O-War, egg toss and more. Wahn expressed his enthusiasm to confirm the return of  Grand Bahama’s ever popular Uppercut 242 Band to perform for second year in a row saying, “With the wide variety of tunes from different genres that cater to just about everyone, we’re excited to bring Uppercut 242 back to kick our beach party into full swing.

The BASRA Chairman stressed the urgent need for the Grand Bahama community to continue their financial support of their most worthy cause by coming out to Coral Beach on Saturday August 19 for an awesome time.

Since 1960 the Bahamas Air Sea Rescue Association of Grand Bahama made its mandate to save persons in distress on the sea. Solely manned and operated by volunteers, BASRA has saved many lives and been involved in thousands of rescues.

Basra Grand Bahama 47th Annual Swim Race
Saturday, August 19 from  6 Am – 6 Pm
Coral Beach, Freeport, Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas

This annual swim race and beach party raises funds for the Bahamas Air Sea Rescue Association (BASRA). It features live music by Uppercut 242, DJ music, and food and drinks will be on sale.