With just over two weeks to go before the action commences in the 28th edition of the world-renowned St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, race organizers have received some 224 entry forms from skippers and crews eager to test themselves in the fresh Caribbean tradewinds.
As always, the Heineken field is comprised of a vast cross-section of yachts ranging from flat-out Grand Prix racers to laid-back bareboat cruisers to an ever-expanding fleet of multihulls. There is, however, one common denominator amongst the hundreds of competitors who’ve made the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta a highlight of the sailing calendar for nearly three decades. Along with the champagne sailing conditions, they come to the regatta in search of “serious fun.”
The “big-boat” contenders for the 2008 event are grand indeed, with over a dozen entrants topping the 20-meter figure in length overall. These include a pair of Bruce Farr designs, Peter Harrison’s exquisite Sojana—which, at 35-meters, or 115-feet, is the current “Queen of the Fleet”—and Jeff Hanlon’s rapturous Rapture, which measures in at 30-meters, or just under 100 feet.
Sojana and Rapture are two of the 60 entries thus far in the Spinnaker Racing classes. Both boats will also compete in the Commodore’s Cup on Thursday, March 6th, the extra day of racing now in its second year that is scored separately from the main event. To date, the Commodore’s Cup has attracted 41 entrants. The three-day St. Maarten Heineken Regatta follows immediately after, from March 7-9.
The event has always been well represented by Swan owners, and the 2008 running continues that long-standing tradition. Nicolai Tangen’s Swan 82, Nikata, and Duke Steinemann’s Swan 80, Selene, are the largest Swans in the Spinnaker Racing divisions, while Bill Titus’s Swan 100, Virago, tops all seventeen entries in the Non-spinnaker Racing fleet.
Other notable Swans include Clay Deutsch’s 68-foot Chippewa, a class winner in both 2006 and 2007; Sam Fleet’s Swan 601, Aquarious; a pair of Swan 48s, Hank Schmitt’s Avocation and Jack Desmond’s Affinity; a classic Swan 44, Martin Jacobson’s Crescendo; and Henry Crallan’s Swan 40, Tobasco.
Among the many other interesting entrants in the Spinnaker Racing fleet are the half-dozen Beneteau First 40.7 yachts, led by the seasoned Puerto Rican campaigner Sergio Sagramoso aboard Lazy Dog. The Volvo 60 Pindar AlphaGraphics, owner by British sailing patron Andrew Pindar, will certainly make a splash. And there will be plenty of J/Boats on hand, including Roger Gatewood’s J/42, Shazaam; Angus Wright’s J/125, Aunt Jessie; Robert Read’s J/40, Nepenthe; and Roger Wesslund’s J/120, El Ocaso.
In terms of sheer numbers, the largest St. Maarten Heineken Regatta fleet is invariably the Bareboat class, and 2008 will be no different. There are already 123 yachts enrolled, ranging in size from a pair of Beneteau Oceanis 523s, on the upper end, to an Oceanis 343, on the lower.
Then there are the 19 catamarans and trimarans that make up the burgeoning Multihull division. The biggest single builder represented is Gunboat, with five of the company’s fast, sleek cats scheduled to be on the starting line: the 62-footers Looking for Elvis (Bruce and Nora Slayden), Safari (Tim Slade), and Lickity Split 2 (Ian Dwyer); and the Gunboat 48s Hammer (Tom Robinson) and Cream (skippered by Gunboat founder Peter Johnstone).
Taken all together, it adds up to yet another sensational gathering of boats and sailors for one of the sailing season’s most highly anticipated events. Plus, there’s still time to join the party. What’s holding you back?!
For full information, entry lists, entry forms and much more, visit www.heinekenregatta.com