Surf AXA: On the Road and In The Sea at Anguilla’s Summer Festival

Words and Photos by Ravi Lloyd

Ravi Lloyd is an Anguilla-based filmmaker, surfer, skateboarder, photographer and world citizen. In his new column “Surf Life,” the founder of Anguilla’s first surf shop, Surf AXA, will take us into and beyond the waves, bringing us engaging visual episodes from his journeys, wherever they may take him. This is Caribbean surfing, not just as a sport but as a way of life, and a method of operation. Surf the beat, surf the street, surf life.

“We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free our mind.” – Marcus Garvey, 1937

J’ouvert only comes once a year, so we tend to make it count. Our carnival in Anguilla coincides with Emancipation Day in the Caribbean, at the beginning of every August, and our J’ouvert is symbolic of this. The parade goes from the town to the sea from where we came. Free up yuh-self, if you know what I mean.

Directly from the street parade, we head straight into our national sport: boat racing. As you come down the hill towards Sandy Ground, you are able to see the boats in the water for the day’s race.

The first boat race for sport in Anguilla was held on the first Monday in August and the tradition continues to this day. (Read more about the history of the races and boat racing in Anguilla in our 2013 article, “Hard Lee.”) Each village has their own boat and crew: The Sonic, UFO, De Tree, Real Deal and Eagle are some of the names. This year I sailed on the Wasp, a veteran boat from my village, Island Harbour. If she is not in the water, I usually don’t sail. There’s a sense of loyalty for one’s boat. When I was a youth, the Wasp was the champion of champions on the island, and I grew up building boats in her name and shape. Our crew is all family, or pretty close to it. To me, there is nothing more liberating than sailing. Big sails, blue waters, open seas.

The race starts around 2 p.m. as we head west, downwind, before going out to sea and around a buoy placed by the officials. When we round the buoy, that’s when the race really starts. As we turn to face the wind, we tack back to the land. The first boat to make it back to the buoy near the land wins.

Our decks are open, so water is flooding in constantly, and the boat is full of men, sandbags and lead. The forward man calls the wind, “fresh again capt.

The captain orchestrates the crew, most of us still drunk from J’ouvert: “Move d sand up!“Bail her!”

The races continue throughout the week, with a total of five races at different spots around the island: Meads Bay, Island Harbour, Blowing Point and Sandy Ground. Boat racing is a central point during Anguilla’s summer festival, around which all of the other events are anchored. All week you can find yourself on a boat or watching the races from the beach, enjoying a cold drink as these beautiful boats float by. Here’s some shots I took on August Monday, on the road at J’Ouvert, and out at sea on the deck of the Wasp.

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