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41st St. Maarten Heineken Regatta launches 'Safe Harbor' concept

by St. Maarten Heineken Regatta 25 Jan 2021 13:25 PST 4-7 March 2021
40th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta © Laurens Morel /

The organizers of the 41st St. Maarten Heineken Regatta reassure sailors world-wide that plans are still moving forward for the Regatta to take place from March 4- 7 on the Caribbean island of St Maarten.

Although the future course of the Covid-19 pandemic is far from clear, the Sint Maarten Yacht Club Regatta Foundation, supported by the Government of Sint Maarten, DIVICO Distributors, Heineken as the title sponsor and its longtime supportive group of sponsors, feel confident to host four days of world-class racing and deliver the top-notch experience to which sailors and regatta followers have become accustomed.

The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is first and foremost an outdoor sporting event. Successful local sailing events have been taking place on a bi-weekly basis and the US and Europe have had several sailing events safely executed in the past several months, during the COVID conditions. By over delivering on local Covid-19 safety measures and regulations, creating a controlled 'Safe Harbor' environment, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is planning on a race schedule that is focusing on delivering a safe, competitive, professional and "Serious Fun!" event.

All attention is set on offering world-class racing. Participants will have to comply with health and entry guidelines that are set by the Island's Government and the Event's Organizers. These guidelines are communicated on the official website and updated regularly on the official notice board (online and during the event).

As of January 11, 2021, the government of Sint Maarten has implemented a mandatory COVID-19 insurance for all travelers visiting Sint Maarten. The insurance purchase process is an integrated step in the EHAS application, which is mandatory when travelling to Sint Maarten. Complete travel entry guidelines can be found here. The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta Office is available to assist with any questions participants may have to provide clarity and efficient preparations.

With the USA now requiring all international travelers to get tested upon entering the US, organizers have also made arrangements for ON-SITE COVID testing during the weekend, to provide timely results for those persons wanting to be tested to travel back on the Monday or Tuesday after the event. Over the past few months, a strategic and evolving plan has been formulated with the main stakeholders to do what is possible to provide a safe environment for the participants and the island's population.

Organizers of the Regatta stated "We are balancing the current COVID fear in people's minds with the pragmatism of being able to deliver on the promise of conducting an annual globally renowned sporting event and the economic advantages it holds for the many businesses on the island.

The people who visit the island, especially for the Regatta, provide a significant increase in income for the many industries on the island, think taxis, restaurant and bars, provisioning at supermarkets, car rentals, etc. Most teams stay for a minimum of a week, sometimes even two weeks, and are really enjoying what the island has to offer. Secondly, the marketing value of this event for the island is immense. Not only will it be the first International Regatta to take place in the Caribbean, but also one of the first significant sailing events of the year. It is an opportunity to showcase how the island is resilient and innovative." states Michele Korteweg, Regatta Director.

The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is normally renowned for its spectacular parties, something that will be eliminated in this year's event format. This year's Regatta Village will be a quiet and relaxed atmosphere set by the marina at Port de Plaisance. Organizers have developed a 'Safe Harbor' concept accommodating the regatta's competitors and affiliates to relax and unwind after racing. Imagine watching footage of the day's racing, listening to daily results, purchasing Regatta Gear, enjoying an ice-cold Heineken and delicious locally prepared food in a socially distanced atmosphere in the beautiful Marina at Port de Plaisance.

In order to fully enjoy these special arrangements, participants are recommended to dock at Yacht Club Port de Plaisance who will offer discounted rates for the duration of the Event. Sailors are obliged to adhere to all COVID protocols, such as the wearing of face masks, hand sanitization, and other measures that will be implemented at all onshore facilities.

"Understandably, for this year's event we will not be organizing parties after the racing, and the hours of operations will be earlier than normal" adds John Leone the event's On-Shore Production Director." "We will turn the village in to a 'Safe Harbor' Sailor's Village, where participants and affiliated persons can enjoy the atmosphere of being outdoors in a fun and safe environment. You can choose to stay on your boat, walk to the various outdoor vendors, and enjoy some great food and drinks all in a safe, professional, and fun atmosphere. It's still 'Serious Fun', this year we will focus primarily on enjoying the sport of sailing...responsibly."

All racing will take place in the crystal blue warm waters surrounding the dual-nation island of Sint Maarten/Saint Martin, offering a variety of courses suitable for all classes: Maxi's, Ocean Racers, Multihulls, Bareboats, Cruisers, and everything in between, this event promises 'Serious Fun' for everyone.

Although lower participation numbers are expected due to the impact of COVID-19, organizers are able to offer 4 days of high-quality racing. "In the past 40 years, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta has developed from a 12 boat event to a large international event attracting hundreds of boats. One aspect that has always remained consistent is the high quality of racing. We are confident sailors will greatly appreciate the racing that will take place this year." concludes Michele Korteweg, Regatta Director.

Online registration is quick, easy to use, and can be accessed via the regatta website where you will also find the Notice of Race for 2021. Competitors are urged to register early so the office can assist with arrangements to accommodate to its participants needs. The island of St. Maarten and the organizers of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta look forward to welcoming all sailors back for "Serious Fun" while we #SocialiseResponsibly!

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