St. Maarten Heineken Regatta 32nd edition is being held from 1st to 4th March 2012. With less than a week to go before action begins the fleet continues to grow impressively with nearly 200 yachts now signed up for the competition. And while the quantity of the field is certainly striking, the big story is the quality of the boats and sailors who will soon descend on the friendly island of St. Maarten.
Among the newcomers to the field are three flat-out Grand Prix racers that will certainly be strong contenders for the silverware in their respective divisions. Though Bill Alcott is a veteran of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, his Transpac 65, Equation, will be making her regatta debut. Under a previous owner, Equation was known as Rosebud, and she sailed to international acclaim when she won the prestigious 2007 running of the famed Sydney-Hobart Race. The boat has undergone a complete refit under Alcott after suffering major damage in the Middle Sea Race. With a crew that includes America’s Cup winners and World Champions in other events, Equation is an early favorite to make a strong showing in St. Maarten.
Another boat with an interesting pedigree is New Orleans sailor Stephen Murray’s Carkeek 40, Decision. The no-holds-barred 40-footer—billed as 'the world’s fastest 40-foot monohull'—is the first race boat built to the new HPR High Performance Rule. The creation of a consortium of the sport’s top naval architects, racers, and structural engineers, the boat was constructed in Australia by the renowned McConaghy Boats team. Murray had hoped to unveil Decision earlier this year at Key West Race Week, but the boat was not ready in time. The yachting world will be watching the action in St. Maarten closely to see if the Carkeek 40 lives up to her advance billing.
Like the designer Shaun Carkeek, Irvine Laidlaw is a well-known figure in sailing circles for his series of highly competitive boats, all named Highland Fling. His latest in the line, Highland Fling XII, is a Transpac 52 designed by the successful design team of Reichel/Pugh. Laidlaw’s crews are always top notch, and while this new Highland Fling has a large reputation to live up to, there’s no question that the pieces are in place to do exactly that.
Surveying the rest of the field to date, the figurative queens of the fleet will once again come forth from the unsurpassed Nautor yard, the builder of the regal yachts known as Swans. There is not one but two Swan 100s preparing for the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta: Virago, entered by longtime regatta stalwarts Bill and Carolyn Titus, and Patrick Adams’s Varsovie. Only alongside those two beauties would the Swan 90, Nefertiti, be considered a 'smaller' boat.
While the 91 entrants that comprise the CSA Monohull fleet thus far are newsworthy, so too is the remarkable 17-boat list of entries to date in the Multihull class, easily the strongest showing of catamarans and trimarans ever assembled for the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. All eyes will certainly be on the largest of the multis, the Gunboat 66 cat, Coco de Mer. But if history repeats itself, no one will be surprised if Pat Turner’s seasoned Dick Newick tri, Tryst, or Nils Erickson’s swift Formula 40 catamaran, Soma, are still in the hunt for top honors right up the final race.
For full information on the 2012 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, including entry lists and entry information, the Notice of Race, photos, videos, party and band information, and much, much more click here.
St. Maarten Heineken Regatta website
by Michele Korteweg
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4:42 PM Fri 24 Feb 2012GMT
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