Luxury Sailing the Island at Sea
It is said that one of the best ways to see Anguilla is from the sea. An island of natural wonders; lush rainforest, exotic flora and fauna and rare wildlife, the seas surrounding the island can provide some the best opportunities in which to sample these sights. Captivating, clear blue waters, coral cliffs and white sandy beaches are an enticing proposition also for those wanting to sail and in turn sample adventure out on the Caribbean Sea.Sailing as well as being one of Anguilla’s most popular pastimes is also the island’s national sport. Where most of the Anglophile Caribbean islands have taken cricket to be their national sport, sailing, more specifically boat racing has become ingrained in the Anguillan culture. Not just a sport, but also a way of life, it can be said that the art of boat racing was born out of the Anguillan’s natural love for and dependence on the sea. What-is-more, the hardships of life, which were symbolic of the struggle for basic survival between Anguillan’s’ and there almost desert terrain habitat further, cemented this love for the sea.
This rich modern tradition of boat racing can trace it’s roots back many years to the fishing trips of old when the men would race their boats home against one another. With craftsmanship dating back to the times of the Taino and Arawak peoples who in inhabited Anguilla before the British Colonisation, the boats these people sailed in were built by hand from the islands natural resources. Even to this day this tradition has carried over into the contested events that occur. Crews still opt to ride in boats that are locally built and designed.
Throughout the year, Anguilla is host to countless regattas and sailing events. With regattas regularly held to celebrate public holidays, sailing is a defining characteristic of the island. Such is the rich history that exists within the island’s love of sailing; it is often indistinguishable from the history of the island itself. Indeed, in any boat fixture that occurs, you can be sure that countless parties, BBQs, live music, celebrations accompany it.
The centrepiece to the island’s sailing year is Champion of Champion’s boat race where boats from varying categories, A, B and C class compete over several days to decide the victor. This race like all others on Anguilla are wholly unique. The rules governing them do not conform to international sailing laws, making Anguilla’s races some of the most exhilarating sights to behold. Although it can be said that the races are more an observer’s activity, nonetheless many of the major events have become ‘not to be missed’ dates in the Caribbean calendar.
For those wishing to sail or indeed participate themselves, there are many harbours, bays, and luxury resorts for instance Altmater Resort, from which to hire or charter a vessel. Sailors should also be cautious however when navigating the Anguillan waters as unfavourable winds, strong currents and coral reefs, especially near the shoreline are all things one should look out. It is strongly advised for those less experienced sailors to steer clear of the water when conditions seem treacherous.
The fans who watch and the sailors who compete do so with passion. Many Anguillans often return from all over the world to be a part of these events. For Anguilla, the races that occur are their equivalent to the World Cup or Super Bowl. A sport that requires teamwork, concentration, respect and skill, sailing encapsulated all the core ethics by which the Anguillan people live.