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38th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta: Setting the stage for a competitive weekend

by Kirsten Ferguson 3 Mar 2018 03:56 PST 1-4 March 2018
38th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta 2018 © Laurens Morel

It was a fun but challenging day of racing for the 100-boat fleet at the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. The light breeze and tricky conditions resulted in only the Maxi, Offshore Racing and Multihull Classes completing the regatta's famed 26-mile around the island race, while the remaining classes completed a shorter coastal race.

The Brazilian team on the 65-foot Maxi Camiranga was the first boat to cross the finish line in the Around the Island Race, with an elapsed time of three hours, 22 minutes and 41 seconds, but in the end the 1974 Sparkman & Stephens Classic Kiaola III beat them on corrected time. The latter team holds the class lead going into tomorrow's racing.

"We had a game plan, we stuck to it and it worked," said Kiaola III Skipper Stephen Stewart. The 43-year-old Sparkman & Stephens classic yacht is world-famous for its victories back in the 1970s and was restored in 2015 by the K3 Foundation, which had the goal to race it competitively again. "She was ideally built for ocean racing, so courses like the around the island suit the boat better. We were second around the first mark, then leading up to the top of the island, but then Camiranga stretched its legs and was able to get ahead. Overall the boat went well and crew work was good. We didn't have any problems."

The CSA, Bareboat and Melges 24 took off on 12 and 15 nautical mile courses, on the western coast of the island, starting and finishing off Simpson Bay with turning marks north of the island in the Anguilla Channel.

"It was really nice going downwind at the start and then around the western side of the island, but on the way back toward the finish, the conditions were a little chaotic," said Tactician Colin Symes whose team on the J/111 Whistler took win the day in the CSA 3 Class. He added that many boats got parked with no wind off Baie Longue. "We were lucky and managed to sniff out the wind and stay in it. The whole team was better today and we hope to take that momentum through to the next few days"

And after some serious racing, came some "Serious Fun" for which the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is famously known. Competitors went from the docks to the Regatta Village to join friends and locals for libations and performances by a stellar lineup of musicians. Tomorrow, Carnival legends Destra and 3 Cylinder will take to the stage, while on Sunday, the Grammy Award winning musician and regatta headliner Shaggy will perform.

"The spirit of this regatta is open and we want to involve everybody here on the island," said Heineken's John Leone. "You'll see organizations here that have nothing to do with sailing, you'll see people here that know this event just from the musical standpoint and others that know it from a racing perspective. There is something for everybody."

For full results, visit regattaguru.com/heineken/100237/results

For full information on the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta visit www.heinekenregatta.com.

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