History of Local Boat Racing
Boat Racing Photos
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The history of boat racing is an interesting one and has evolved from the days at the beginning of the century, when the schooners transported workers to the Dominican Republic to cut cane. On the return journey there was nearly always a race home and this really started the interest in boat racing on the island. Fishing boats, after a long day of fishing would also race back home and are, in fact, more directly the forerunners in style of today's sailing boats.
First August Monday
1940 was the first August Monday boat race. Two men are named as responsible for organized boat racing; they are Mac Owen and Elliot Carty. There were five classes of boats at that first competition, the largest being 19 feet in length and the smallest 13 feet. Most of the boats at that time were used for fishing as well as racing but as the fishing boats started using outboard engines and more sophisticated equipment, the racing boat came into it's own.
The Anguilla racing boat is unique to the island in the way it is fitted and handled. There is no decking and no external ballast on the hull. Large smooth rocks, iron, lead or bags of sand are used as ballast. This is often changed during a race and thrown overboard as deemed necessary. There are usually ten to eighteen men in the crew of the Class A boats which are 28 feet long (9 metres), nine feet wide (3 metres) and have masts of up to forty feet (12 metres).
Boat racing is an important part of Anguilla's culture and many Anguillians are involved in the sport. The sport has developed over the years, the boats are now larger and have taller masts made of aluminium, and sails of Dacron instead of sailcloth, but the basic design of the hull and sails is the same. Nearly every year improvements are made, some are very costly, but the owners and crew only have one thing in mind — winning the next boat race. If one boat gets a new sail, then several others follow suit, if one widens their boat and wins the next race then others will want to do the same. The boats are quite costly to build and some boats now are built as a community effort.
The races usually have two points; the boats first run before the wind or westward away from the shore to a stake boat or marker some miles out. Then they beat to windward, back to shore to a buoy a few yards from the beach, which is the finishing post and must be touched by one of the crew. If two boats are on a collision course, one must shout "hard lee" and both have to tack away from each other at the last minute. This rule causes some dangerous situations and creates much excitement both during the race and in the heated discussions that usually follow.