Out of necessity comes the number one sport of Anguilla, Boat Racing. The history of the sport is over a hundred years old and has a dark depressing past, but these seafaring people have turned misfortunes into magic. You see, when poverty forced them to seek employment in the cane fields of Santo Domingo they had to do something to make the grueling sea journey spicy, and just like that a sport was born. It’s a pretty astounding sight to see.
From a distance the white masts flying high look serene and picturesque. Like synchronized swimmers putting on a fine show while simultaneously racing to shore. It’s an even more charming thing to see from your hotel or villa window. Now change vantage points. On deck these boats are in fierce competition. Waves raging and crews screaming. Men balancing weights, another bailing water out at high speeds. It’s a scene straight out of Pirates of the Caribbean. The boats tear through the waters at speeds dependent on the skill of your crew but ultimately at the mercy of the high winds churning.
How serious are they about their boat racing? Well legend has it that one Sunday morning as the boats raced back from Santo Domingo church goers spotted them and flocked out of church to cheer the race on. Even the preacher indulged.
Today there is still fun to be had as a spectator. Choose to sail behind the race in private boats, conducting your own little fete as you cheer your team on from your front row seat. If you don’t have access to a front row seat then catch the action from land. There are two options here for spectators on land. You can follow in your car, binoculars in tow. Or you can choose to sit at the beach (finish line) and join the scores of people partying. Boat racing creates some of the biggest beach fetes on the island. Yachts, music, live entertainment and food. Not everybody will be frolicking though, die-hard fans will engage in their annual heated debates (cussing) as to why their boats will emerge the winner. The biggest prize? No not the cash, but bragging rights for the team and its corresponding village. The novice may not understand, but be warned, the boat racing fever is infectious.
- Boat Racing season begins on Easter Monday and Climaxes the first week in August
- During the season races are held at various beach locations
- Yachts from neighboring islands are welcome to dock and partake in the festivities
- Anguilla’s Local Boatbuilding company Rebel Marine has made a dvd called ‘nuttin bafflin’ documenting the history of boat racing
The Anguilla Tourist Board
Coronation Avenue The Valley, Anguilla AI-2640 British West Indies (800) 553-4939
Tel: (264) 497-2759
Fax: (264) 497-2710