The 2022 Around the Island Boat Race was the biggest boat race held in Anguilla’s waters within the past five years,” Atrene Pemberton, Anguilla Boat Racing official, noted.
For the last two years, COVID-19 had robbed Anguillians of the opportunity to enjoy many of the traditional pastimes celebrated on Anguilla – including the national sport of boat racing. However, with the relaxing of most COVID-19 protocols on the island – came the approval to move ahead with the 2022 Around the Island Boat Race – a highlight of the Anguilla Day celebrations.
And so, on Anguilla Day – May 30, 2022, thousands of residents gathered on beaches, at “special look out points” and on pleasure boats, to catch a clear view of this year’s boat race and make predictions about the outcome.
As is customary, the race started and ended at Road Bay.
After a short delay, ten boats with gleaming white sails got off to a fine start of what would become a challenging and eventful almost six-hour long race.
Not long after the race started, four of the competing boats experienced challenges that caused them to drop out of the race – the Speed & Comfort sank, the Satellite sprung a leak, and both the Wizard and the Light & Peace broke down. Meanwhile, the other six boats ploughed the waters and raced on along the northern coast of the island.
Throughout most of the race, the Sonic and the UFO remained close competitors out front, followed by the Real Deal.
Ms. Pemberton observed that “although the seas were a little choppy, the brisk winds did not exceed the safe wind speed of 18mph and, from the outset of the race, the UFO had a good start and seemed locked in stiff competition with the Sonic.” They kept up a good race all the way to Captains Bay where they became embroiled in some sort of aggressive entanglement.
It appeared that the UFO got caught in, or was forced into, a reef and the Sonic would not allow her to pull out, resulting in the Sonic being disqualified from the race.
Boat racing officials asked the disqualified Sonic to discontinue the race and turn back, but she refused to comply with that request and continued on the race route “under protest”.
As the remaining boats sailed along the south-eastern and southern coast of Anguilla, the UFO took about a three-minute lead ahead of the Real Deal and quickly broke out ahead of the pack.