The Figawi race takes place over the entire Memorial Day weekend to celebrate the start of summer. This annual race from Hyannis to Nantucket is all about sailing, with well over 200 boats taking part, but the weekend also includes a charity ball, parties and other social activities. While the name Figawi is widely recognized, it's a little less known how it actually originated. The name is surrounded with folklore, with two completely different stories on how it came about.
Most sources agree that the modern Figawi race started in 1972 when three sailors decided to race eachother from Hyannis to Nantucket. The idea grew and became an official annual event. One of the myths on how the race got its name centers around this beginning. This story says that during the first race, the sailers had trouble finding their way through the fog and asked each other, "Where the f*** are we?" Think of that phrase in the classic accent of the region and you get "Figawi." Who knows whether this legend is actually true, but most people follow it and the phrase sure is fun to say. In fact, this version is so widespread and popular that you are sure to see people walking around with shirts that say "Where the Figawi?" at some point during the weekend.
If you want more of a story, check out this tale from NantucketBaseball.com. The story goes that Figawi is named after Jimmy Figawi, who was an all-star in the Nantucket Baseball League during 1968 to 1970. So why was a race named after a baseball player? The story goes that Jimmy Figawi came from Brooklyn with no experience on the water. Nonetheless, he decided to be part of the 1971 sailing race. Supposedly, he sailed into the ocean and no one saw him again. But if you believe that one, you must not be from around here!
When you're enjoying the race on Memorial Day weekend, don't forget to shout "Where the Figawi?" and maybe sport a festive t-shirt.