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Anguilla Boat Racing



The hardships of life which were symbolic of the struggle for basic survival between Anguillians and their almost desert terrain habitat further cemented a dependence on the sea to complement and subsidize what the land did not offer. Anguillian boat racing is now the island's number 1 sport.




Read all about the history of boat race on Anguilla
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sailing_in_Anguilla


Boat race is a big party on the beach.
Boat race is a big party on the beach.
"Anguilla had been a failed plantation experiment for the early British settler. Very early in the settlement mission, they wre forced to abandon the island and flee to more fertile places like Cancoun, The BVI (British Virgin Islands) and St. Crois. This, in turn, created on Anguilla a strange and unique colonial sociological situation absent of chattel slavery as was common in other Caribbean islands."

The boats race on a designated course.
The boats race on a designated course.

The failure of plantation from the 1700's, and the severe economic conditions, forced Anguilla's men folk to seek employment overseas, including the prosperous cane fields of Macoris and La Romana on the island of the Dominican Republic.


The winner touches the bouy first.
The winner touches the bouy first.

Every trip to and from Santo Domingo soon became a fiercelycontested race; so were fishing trips at home. According to Sir Emile Gumbs, once captain of the historic Warspite and past Chief Minister of Anguilla, one of the most exciting races ever occured in the 1930s. The Warspite and the Ismay, two of Anguilla's most famous schooners, left La Romana at the same time with several others bound for home.
After five days battling each other and the elements, they were sighted west of Dog Island, racing to Road Bay on a Sunday morning. On board, were three to four hundred Anguillian men cheering their boat on.

Boats must dismantle after every race.
Boats must dismantle after every race.

Worship in the Road Methodist Church was in progress when the boats came "hard lee" and tacked away from each othr just tothe leeward of Dowling Shoal near to Sandy Island, two miles out. Excitement became unbearable and one by one the members of the churchleft to go and see the race until eventually everyone, including the Minister who abandoned his sermon, left the church asolutely empty while they hollered their support from the brow of the hill.

Additional history on Ismay and Warspite
On one occasion the Ismay and the Warspite were close at the end of the journey to their anchorage in Sandy Ground. These impromptu races would cause great excitement among the people in Anguilla, especially in Sandy Ground, who had their own favourite. The Ismay usually won. On one occasion, the Warspite was tacking back and forth up to the anchorage. The Ismay was on a long tack and passed close to Sandy Island and continued all the way up until she was almost under the lee of the hills. Many of her supporters, some of whom had placed bets, were worried that the hills would kill her wind. It was a beautiful sight to see the Ismay under full sail. The Warspite looked certain to win. Then the Ismay tacked and in a straight reach beat the Warspite to the mooring.
Submitted by Douglas Lake Gillanders

According to Sir Emile Gumbs, the first known organized race occurred as part of the celebrations marking the end of World War I in 1918. The race was open to all fishing boats and held in Crocus Bay and was won by "Repel", built and owned by Joe Hodge of Long Bay. He added that each year, for as long as anyone can remember, our fishing boats went to Marigot, St. Martin to compete in the Bastille Day (July 14) boat race. Our racing boats still do.

The party continues long after the race is over.
The party continues long after the race is over.

Today, the art of boat building lives on through the work of young Anguillians who apprenticed under the master builders of the early 20th century. But, our boat builders no longer cut down white cedar trees to make frames for racing boats.
Using the W.E.S.T. (Wood epoxy saturated technique) introduced by David Carty, the frames are now made of laminated marine plywood and the planking of white pine strips less than two inches wide, all glued together with epoxy resin. The boats are now light but extremely strong and water resistant.

Anguilla race boats are built by hand.
Anguilla race boats are built by hand.

The passion of the Anguilla people for their national sport is reflected in the huge crowds that come out to support their boat. The "landracers", as they are called, line the beach and with the aid of binoculars, follow the race on the horizon shouting instructions, arguing loudly and betting good-naturedly on which boat will cross the stake first.

Careful attention to detail on race boats in Anguilla.
Careful attention to detail on race boats in Anguilla.

Anguillians are so enthused with their sport that a race is held every day during the first week in August, at different beaches (to give boats a chance to be a champion in its home bay!).

There are 3 categories of boats, A, B and C, with A boats being the largest and most popular. Just under 30 feet, the open hull craft holds about 14 men along with hundreds of pounds of ballast (stones, iron or lead, even sandbags that can be shifted or thrown overboard if need be).

Often one man will be responsible for building the boat.
Often one man will be responsible for building the boat.

Many of today's racing boats are named in honour of late 19th centruy cargo sloops that ploughed the seas of the southern and western Caribbean. Each boat is a personality, a legend with a story and a faithful following.




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