Characteristics of a Winning Anguilla Race Boat

An interview with renowned Anguillian boat builder, Mr. David Carty

From Easter to carnival time in August, Anguilla’s boat racing season is active. Races between these times include: the annual Around-the-Island Boat Race which is held on May 30th (Anguilla Day), Peter Perkins Memorial Race and Whit Monday race, to name a few.

The spectators build the hype from land and sea…

When a boat race is on, you can definitely identify it! Persons from around the island gather and follow the races via land or sea. Spectators viewing races from the land can often be found listening to one of our local radio networks, Up Beat Radio, whilst the boats are out of their sight or when they are not at an ideal angle.

Getting to the best vantage point to view the race is probably most important for land spectators. The urgency that persons portray in getting to these spots first is always present especially when it is a tight race.

While at these spots, you are guaranteed to notice crowds of persons partaking in friendly arguments. Although it may seem intense to some, it is all in the passion that we, as a people, have for our sport.

Characteristics of a winning Anguilla Race Boat
Back Street South Hill is a popular vantage point

Winning Anguilla Race Boat Sonic
Land spectators looking on from the cliffs

      Having the riggings correctly fitted including the weight in the boat, having a good mold for your boat and having a seasoned crew.”
— David Carty
Being on the sea is more intriguing than being on land. Sea spectators view the race from a sea vessel – party boats, personal boats, fishing boats, etc.

These fans are a bit more expressive. You can almost always find these spectators close to their favourite boats or next to the leading boats, shouting words of encouragement, giving instructions and cheering them on.

Sea spectators get to witness the many boat racing skills in action, such as, crew members trimming the main sail and jib, bailing of the water, and the captain steering.

They also get the opportunity to witness how in sync a crew has to be in order to be safe and successful. The safety of the crew is a team effort – everyone has to contribute towards it.

Characteristics of a winning Anguilla Race Boat Cigarette Boat

Characteristics of a Winning Anguilla Race Boat

     …if you mess up any of those three shapes, you don’t have a racing boat capable of winning races.”
— David Carty
Boat racing itself is a very technical sport. In my eight years of sailing experiences, I learned how delicate a racing boat can be.

For example, having too much weight placed at a particular spot in the boat can cause the boat to lose its ability to go to the wind, or “climb”, in Anguilla racing terms.

In a recent interview with Mr. David Carty, a renowned Anguillian boat builder, when asked what aspects make for the best racing boat possible, his response was “Having the riggings correctly fitted including the weight in the boat, having a good mold for your boat and having a seasoned crew.”

Fine tuning and trimming

Every aspect of the boat has to be finely tuned and trimmed. For example, the riggings on the boat, such as the shrouds and the jib stay must have the proper tensions or else your boat will be going “leeward” (on or towards the side sheltered from the wind) all race.

Next, the main sail and the jib have to be fitted and cut to the perfect size. If either is too big or too small, as said before, your boat will be heading leeward no matter what you do out there.

Characteristics of a winning Anguilla Race Boat

Like pottery, even boats must be well molded

Anguilla Race Boat Blue Bird
Having an ideal molded boat – the built of the boat – is an important aspect of the traditional Anguilla race boat. Mr. David Carty informed that the best built boats often have a sense of fluidity throughout its shape.

The fluidity includes having a sharp bow that is capable of cutting through the water instead of pushing, the width of the mid shift and girth, and the essence which the boat uses to slide through the water.

Essence refers to an “S” shape given to the boat from its gunnel to its keel. He also went further to say “if you mess up any of those three shapes, you don’t have a racing boat capable of winning races.”

The distribution of weight is paramount

Furthermore, weight is one of the most important aspects of actually sailing a boat. First, you have to be aware that there are two types of weight a boat needs – side weight and bottom weight. The side weight is the active crew on the boat.

Primarily dependent on the size of the boat, the amount of side weight will vary from boat to boat. For example, the Light N Peace has an ideal weight of 20 men which is approximately 3500 pounds whereas, a bigger boat, such as the Eagle, may need 26 men at a combined weight of approximately 4800 pounds.

Winning Anguilla Race Boat

The bottom weight refers to the weight that is used to keep the sailing boat grounded – using lead, irons and sand that are placed in bags for storage.

A sailing boat that is grounded means that it has sufficient weight, not too heavy or too light, giving it the ability to travel windward (the direction upwind from the point of reference or direction of the wind) or in the crews desired direction.

Winning Anguilla Race Boat
Sand bags serving as bottom weight

However, the bottom weight has to be positioned in a unique order for each boat. Some boats may require the weight to be positioned horizontally to the bow whereas another may need its weight to be positioned vertically, with most of its weight to the stern.

Race Boats which currently meet these specifications

Winning Anguilla Race Boat Real Deal
Real Deal and Blue Bird Hard Lee

The boats that fit the description for everything mentioned so far are the Real Deal, Sonic and De Tree. These three boats have been the most consistent throughout the years, steadily placing in the top five. Only recently, De Tree has started to drop out of the top five. On the other hand, two other boats, namely the Bluebird and Satellite, have stepped it up.

Over the last two years, only four boats actually won two races or more. The four boats include the Blue Bird, Sonic, Satellite and Real Deal.

Coincidentally, some of these winning boats come from the village of North Hill – giving the people of North Hill well-deserved bragging rights.

The Satellite and Real Deal both captured “Boat of the Year” titles within the last two seasons. The title “Boat of the Year” is rewarded to the boat which finishes with the most points at the end of the season.

To win points you have to place within the first five boats. Points are rewarded as follows:

1st – 5 points
2nd – 4 points
3rd – 3 points
4th – 2 points
5th – 1 point

Last year, we saw the Blue Bird dethrone the Satellite as Champion of Champions, Real Deal snatching the Boat of the Year title from the Satellite as well and the Sonic losing its Anguilla Day title to Real Deal. The competition is at its peak!

The thirst to claim each title back from each other is definite. Will the Real Deal be once again the Boat of the Year? Will the Satellite come back to claim what was theirs? Will the Blue Bird remain Champion of Champions? Will the Sonic come out with a vengeance? Is De Tree going to get back in the dance? Find out this season starting from Easter.

Upcoming Boat Races

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Over to You!

This article was written and the interview was conducted by a 6th form student at the Albena Lake-Hodge Comprehensive School. Let him know what you thought about it in the comments below.


By: Dominik Richardson
Intern, What We Do In Anguilla

“I’m 18 years old and reside in North Hill. This is my first interview and article. My hobbies are boat racing, basketball, reading, writing and video games.”

As part of his Digital Media assessment at the Albena Lake-Hodge Comprehensive School, Dominik completed a 50-hour internship with WWDIA which included a video interview with Mr. David Carty – produced by Miggy Llorera – and, this very well written article.

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