Boatracing is a uniquely Anguillian tradition, one found nowhere else in the Caribbean. The boatracing season starts around Easter, and runs through early August, with the final Champion of Champions race that bestows bragging rights to the winning boat and crew for the season. Each boat is painstakingly hand crafted, built and sponsored by a village or community.
One of the most eagerly anticipated events of the season is undoubtedly the annual Round-the-Island boatrace, a spectacular 4 – 6 hour drama that unfolds on the turquoise seas surrounding Anguilla every Anguilla Day (May 30).
This year’s competition actually took place on May 31st, as a second public holiday was added to the calendar in honor of Anguilla’s 50th anniversary celebrations. Some thirteen boats embarked from Sandy Ground, on this critical test of skill, strategy and sailing expertise. Travel Writer Eric Vohr found a perch on board the West End Boat, Light & Peace, to document and share the thrill of the race for sailing audiences in North America, an arrangement that exemplified the generosity of spirit of the boat crew and their captain.
A host of fans on both land and sea closely followed the boats, rooting for their favorites, and by early afternoon the race was a tight one, between the North Hill boats Satellite and Real Deal, and South Hill’s Sonic. But as the boats entered Sandy Ground, it was Real Deal leading the way, followed by Satellite, with Sonic in third place.
The win was all the more remarkable in that the Real Deal had suffered a major misfortune the night before the big race, and actually sank below the sea. The crew worked all night to raise and rehabilitate the boat, and the other boat captains accepted a short delay in the start of the race in order to accommodate her.
This year’s race was the perfect metaphor for this exceptional island – determined, resilient, and undaunted in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. The true spirit of Anguilla – a nation proud, strong and free!!