I have been really busy lately so apologies for keeping you waiting for news of the 2008 Anguilla Regatta, which took place over the weekend of 9,10,11 May.
It was a thrilling weekend. The sun shone, the sea was a beautiful blue and the wind was good for sailing. Friday was a little choppy and the sky was overcast occasionally, but all agreed it was a weekend when the sailing was perfect.
Friday saw the 26 nautical mile 'Beach Jam' Course, which took competitors into some of the island's most beautiful bays on the Western end of Anguilla. I was on Hearts Desire, the 1925 43' Alden Schooner owned and skippered by Glen Schroeder. He has owned the vessel for five years and purchasing her was the culmination of a love affair with schooners which has been with him since boyhood.
We started last as none of us were sure of the starting signals. This was a bit of a blow but we were not unduly worried. We wanted to beat the other 1925 Alden Schooner in the race, Charm III, about which I have written elsewhere in this blog. This was not to be though as she was being crewed by the skilled lads of the Anguilla Youth Sailing Club and they meant business! Hearts Desire had a green crew and several of us have not sailed a gaff rigged vessel before. With no winches or pulleys it is hard work pulling on ropes to make anything happen! In the end, we settled for a sedate 6 hour and 11 minute sail and arrived back at our start to much applause from those hardy spectators still waiting for us to return. I am sure that the race officials, who had loyally waited for us to complete the course, were relieved when we finally finished!
I missed the Governor presenting the prizes so cannot report what he said, although I am reliably informed that he gave a witty speech, which was well received. I would have liked to have heard it...
Saturday dawned and with it the big 12 metre yachts from St Martin. These were being crewed first by teams from Temenos and CuisinArt Resort and Spa as they fought for the West End Cup, and then by the National Bank of Anguilla and the Caribbean Commerical Bank in the race dubbed the 'Battle of the Banks.' These races are tremendously popular on island. CuisinArt uses a place in the crew as an incentive during the year. All the people on board had earned their places with hard work and good service. No wonder they were so excited!
In the end, CuisinArt Resort and Spa triumphed over Temenos, who has vowed to return next year, and the National Bank of Anguilla beat the Caribbean Commericial Bank. Each bank has now won the race three times, so it will be interesting to see how they get on next year!
On Sunday there was the Sir Bobby Velasquez Local Boat Race. This was great fun! Nine Class A sloops competed and their huge sails made a pretty picture against the beautiful blue sky on the horizon. Eagle caused a bit of a stir when two other boats forced her inside one of the markers and she carried on regardless. There was much indignant shouting from those watching in the myriad of small craft which was following the race. Real Deal won the race and Alvin Richardson, the skipper, was over the moon!
In the meantime, there were races for Open, Cruising, Multihull and Spinnaker classes and lots of vessels turned out for highly competitive races. In the end Budget Marine Too, skippered by Robbie Ferron won the Spinnaker competition. Moonshadow, captained by Eddie Baretto won the Cruising class. Steve Donahue thrilled everyone when he took the Open class on Anguilla registered Juluca. Herve Harel on Harel Yachts took the Multihull title.
I buzzed about on the press boat, ably skippered by Damian Carty to whom I owe many thanks. I took thousands of photos, some of which are reproduced here. I hope that they give you a flavour of what the Anguilla Regatta is all about. For those of you who might like to visit Anguilla to sail in or watch the fun, visit http://www.sailanguilla.com/ for more information on the Regatta and sailing in general.
The photos show: from top to bottom - Temenos and CuisinArt battle it out, Glen Schroeder, Hearts Desire and Mike Syme, crew aboard Hearts Desire.