Boat Racing is the national sport of Anguilla and sailing is in the blood of all Anguillians. The island’s annual Regatta is a unique event with the mix of both local and traditional racing boats with visiting yachts, and is sponsored by the Anguilla Sailing Association in collaboration with the Anguilla Tourist Board.
The event is the main vehicle used to support the Anguilla Youth Sailing Club, a not-for-profit club for Anguillian kids that teaches sailing after school and during school breaks using Optimist Dinghies.
The Sixth Annual Anguilla Regatta will be held on May 9, 10 and 11th, 2008 and is expected to be the biggest and best event to date. After the great success of last year’s racing, which saw great wind and weather as well as fierce competition, organizers are looking for more participants and have hit the road already to spread the word.
The regatta is centered in the sheltered harbour of Road Bay and is host to several parties at bars and restaurants on the beach. This regatta also boasts what many have called the best captain’s bags in the Caribbean!
The 2007 Regatta saw 28 boats competing for great prizes and having great fun sailing in eleven races over the long weekend. Five classes of boats raced each day including two spinnaker classes, non-spinnaker, open and multihull. In addition to the yachts and local boats, the regatta included three 12 Metre Challenges where local companies chartered Stars & Stripes and True North IV and raced against each other for bragging rights and more great prizes and trophies.
The Anguilla Regatta has enjoyed the support for many years of the St. Maarten Yacht Club, Robbie Ferron, Bobby Velasquez, and many other St. Maarteners as well as the organizing committee from the Heineken Regatta. Last year, a teary-eyed Mirian Ebbers, long-time Director of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, who participated in the Anguilla Regatta just before leaving for an extended break, took the microphone to say, “I couldn’t leave the Caribbean without attending what might be my last Anguilla Regatta. As far as I’m concerned, this is the best regatta in the Caribbean… nowhere else will you find a place as special as Anguilla… this regatta has all the fun, camaraderie, and character you can ask for in an event like this!”
Sir Bobby Velasquez also thanked the organizers and said, “Don’t change a thing! I love this regatta! It is like the old times when things were competitive but fun. You can count on me every year – I will be here in Anguilla!” Cary Byerley, President of the Caribbean Sailing Association said, “Great Regatta… Takes me back to how regattas used to be, and that is how I like it.”
The organizers of the Anguilla Regatta invite one and all to come experience the event on this unique and wonderful island—stop by on your way back up north or across the Atlantic. Charters are welcome and cruising fees are waived for all regatta participants. For more information, visit www.anguillaregatta.com or www.sailanguilla.com, or call 264-235-8300.
Anguilla Youth Sailing Club’s Summer 2007 Program
Instructor Ryan Kuja reports that about 40 young people, ranging from novices to advanced sailors, completed one of the many sessions AYSC offered over the summer months. The biggest hit with the sailors and instructors was Sailing Day Camp August 13-16 and “destination sails.” “We were able to sail all the way to Mead’s Bay (about three miles) and back,” says Kuja. “We also sailed to Sandy Island…the long upwind sail back to Sandy Ground was a challenge but fun nonetheless.
“I was amazed to see how well the beginner sailors in the Sea Urchins classes performed. All of them demonstrated great sportsmanship and seamanship skills. They took to the water like fish and quickly learned the basics of sail trim and boat handling. The last Sea Urchins class sailed well outside of Road Bay, our typical sailing area, nearly to Long Bay. I have never seen rookie sailors perform like those who attended the AYSC programme this summer. These new sailors now have the opportunity to advance to Sea Horses-Sailing 2, Dolphins-Sailing 3, and Wahoos-Racing as their skills improve.”