These days, it’s almost impossible to fathom—now that the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta has become an international phenomenon, a one-of-a-kind festival of world-class sailing, music and parties that over the years has attracted tens of thousands of sailors from every corner of the planet—but once upon a time, it was simply a boat race.
by Heather Tackling
It was meant to be fun. Then it got serious. Seriously. Fun.
That inaugural event was over three decades ago. But now, once again, sailors of all stripes, from near and far, are making plans to congregate on the blue waters of the Caribbean for the 31st edition of the largest, best, most unique sailing event in the islands: the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. The traditional kick-off to the racing season, including the Gill Commodores Cup—the one-day match racing series prior to the three-day St. Maarten Heineken Regatta—is scheduled for March 3-6.
But the time to make your plans to attend is…now.
As always, for sailors competing aboard yachts ranging from charter boats to Grand Prix thoroughbreds, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is an equal opportunity celebration. The racing, featuring a mix of round-the-buoys contests and point-to-point destination races against the backdrop of the sensational coastal views of St. Maarten, simply doesn’t get any better, whatever or wherever the venue.
Yes, the sailing is spectacular, but so too is the other star of the show: the half-Dutch, half-French island of St. Maarten. From the café’s in Marigot, to the pubs in Phillipsburg, to the sizzling barbecues up and down the beaches, St. Maarten has something for everyone. Indeed, the island has it all—boutique hotels, high-rise resorts, upscale casinos and marinas, and some of the best nightlife in the Caribbean. Especially during the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.
Do you like music? You’ve come to the right place. Every night of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is a veritable battle of the bands, with multiple sound stages at that evening’s party venue. The best is saved for last, at the Sunday night Awards Ceremony. Previous headliners have included Ziggy, The Wailers, Shaggy, the Marley Brothers, Jimmy Cliff, The Black Eyed Peas and the Neville Brothers.
Serious talent. Serious fun.
For 2011, the entry list is growing by the day. Once again, the fleet is comprised of one-designs and Superyachts, multihulls and daysailers. Geographically, the competitors come from near and far. Many of the local names are familiar to long-time Caribbean racers, including Ian Hope-Ross’s Beneteau First 36.7, Kick ‘em Jenny; Richard Wesslund’s J/120, El Ocaso; Sergio Sagramoso’s latest Lazy Dog, a Grand Soleil 54; and the Melges 24, Budget Marine/Gill.
On the other end of the spectrum, the 2011 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta will be a showcase for some of the grandest, most impressive mega-yachts ranging across the world’s oceans, many of which will make their way to St. Maarten following the Caribbean 600 ocean race…a perfect feeder event for the Heineken. This remarkable contingent includes Aegir II, a Carbon Ocean 82; Bella Pita, a Tripp 75; I-SEA, a Farr 78; the Swan 100, Varsovie; and POS, a Reichel/Pugh 78.
Looking back at the history of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, which in its first thirty years attracted literally thousands and thousands of sailors, the evolution is clear. The fine sailing started it. The people of St. Maarten welcomed it. The wondrous island nurtured it. Heineken Beer quenched its thirst. The parties and music and organization kept people coming back. Word spread. The little boat race became one of the most anticipated, successful yachting events ever.
It’s the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. And you’re invited.
But only if you’re serious…about your fun.
For full information on the Gill Commodore’s Cup and the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, as well as entry lists, past results, photos, videos, party and band information, the Notice of Race, Sailing Instructions and much, much more, visit the event website click here
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2:02 AM Tue 18 Jan 2011 GMT
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