Excitement embraced the Easter weekend in Island Harbour, Anguilla, when the first Festival Del Mar attracted visitors to join in the fun.
Four hardy boat loads of intrepid fishermen braved sea conditions to compete in a fishing tournament as waves over twelve feet high gradually subsided. Two boats returned in time for their catch to be judged. Patrick Webster won the Best Single Fish category for his 20lb Wahoo, which brought gasps of delight from the considerable crowd when it came to weigh-in time. Best Catch prize went to Roger Smith, whose specimens weighed a total of 39lb. Boat Captain Oscar Richardson proudly displayed his catch and said sea conditions were “not too bad—and a lot of fish were biting.’
On the beach, children demonstrated their miniature model boats. Shaq Gumbs explained, ‘the boat took two weeks to make and is made of body filler and Styrofoam. The sails are sticks and plastic.’
Adults showed off larger scale models of the boats Anguilla traditionally races. These craft have masts over eight feet high. Timothy Richardson has been building the models for three years. “It takes about two weeks to build a model and each is made of fibre glass over foam with a wooden rudder,” he said. Roger Smith, who won the adult model boat race, was jubilant. “It is the second thing I have won today, boat racing and fishing, and I am proud of it,” he said.
Kenny Richardson, aged 13, won the Anguilla Youth Sailing Club’s Optimist boat race and Captain Lue, “one of the main guys,” won a fiercely fought Sunfish battle.
People attending could feast on fresh seafood and try out various strengths of rum punch available. Local restaurant Coté Mer offered paella and a glass of wine for US $5; all the ingredients were donated by island firms and proceeds went to St Andrew’s Anglican Church in Island Harbour.
A triathlon was popular as were culinary competitions and the class B boat race, which added drama when one of the boats sank in the pre-race warm up.
Fitzroy Tomlinson, Festival Co-ordinator, Anguilla Tourist Board, commented, “The enthusiasm of the local people has been great, I think this event will grow.” As one local vendor put it, the event was ‘Sea Sational!’