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St. Maarten Heineken Regatta Day 3

by St. Maarten Heineken Regatta 2 Mar 20:21 PST February 29 - March 3, 2024
It was spicy conditions for Day 3, and Spike in CSA 3 pushed the limits of their sail plan © Laurens Morel

The third day of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta was the breeziest day yet, with force 6 winds experienced through most of the day. But as the teams began running sequence, not a single reefed main was spotted amongst the fleet - signaling the teams were committed to full sail and full send!

Race committee set courses towards upwind marks for both fleets, with a short downwind leg to an offset mark before heading to the west side of the island. A solid North Easterly breeze provided a short, but wet and wild ride on the mile-long broadreach leg offshore. With 20 knots, gusting into the mid 20s, a full sail area was hard enough to balance - let alone a spinnaker! Many boats tried to hold their spinnakers longer than they should have, causing a lot of round ups and lost ground.

It was déjà vu seeing each fleet have their own frontrunners come in blazing with full sail, then after rounding the offset mark, would struggle with their spinnakers until the exact same bail out moment. Each holdout was forced offshore and downwind; and each ultimately gave up their battles in the same area. One fleet after the other, the top teams like El Ocaso, Spike, Solstice, FKG and Budget Marine all fell into the same spinnaker trap.

Others decided to play it safe, and prudent sail plans paid off for some. In the Swan 65 class, SAIDA and Alpha Centauri of London elected not to fly their mizzen sail, presumptively due to the high winds for the day. The decision paid off for Saida, but with fellow Swan 65 Blue Magic sailing with full sail area today, the final Swan Alpha Centauri could not keep up by only flying their mainsail.

There was some carnage on the race course, with one team busting a boom, and another halving a hull. The broken boom belonged to a bareboat team "We're Back" who are back for the first time in 25 years. After having a great start to the day and winning second place in the first race, their boom snapped in a maneuver just before race two's starting sequence. The team was disappointed with their bad luck, but took it in stride. "So we will relax tomorrow in Philipsburg and enjoy St. Maarten," concurred team "We're Back" - who are sailing aboard Sunsail bareboat "Here Among the Cats."

Yesterday Swan 100 L'Hippocampe also unfortunately did not finish due to gear failure, and was missing from the start line today. "The jib blocks started to travel inboard and take the deck and teak with it," shared Arno Böhnert of L'Hippocampe; but they are also still in high spirits. "After a great first day of racing, we had a hell of a lot of fun! We will be back next year, you can bank on that one!"

Meanwhile, in the Diam 24 fleet, Karibuni sailed a strategic first race of the day and earned themselves a bullet. The team sailed lower and slower on the short downwind leg to an offset mark, while the rest of the Diam 24 fleet sailed higher and more distance overall. Ultimately Karibuni made it to the mark first, followed by MERLIN and The Mule buzzing by at speed.

The jury room was also very active today, with hearings and some class results pending past the daily prize-giving ceremony at 6 PM. Karibuni filed a protest for a port-starboard against Buzz Race Team, but ultimately the protest was closed as invalid due to not displaying the protest flag immediately.

Despite all of the drama on the race course today, in the bareboat class, women held their own under pressure and came out on top. Something Hot, also known as the Heineken Sailing Ladies team, earned another podium position, coming in second in both races today. Onboard the boat named Sea Breeze, a mixed team from the Netherlands with a female skipper has been holding strong on bullets throughout the event.

"I've been racing in the Netherlands in an all male crew as one solo female, so it's lovely to have another girl on the boat. We are almost 50% women on this team, and we are doing really well. We won all the races in our class so far," Ava Hermans from Team Seabreeze. When asked how we can support more women in racing, Ava responded, "We have to start when they are really young. I saw a lot of little girls here coming up into sailing, and that's where we need to start.

The key value celebrated today at the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta was "inclusivity," showcasing how the event is "Serious Fun!" for everyone! From youth sailors who raced in the Next Generation and Island Time fleets, to mixed crews of men, women, young, old and over 30 different nationalities... The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is an event for sailors, visitors and locals alike!

All are welcome to join the celebration at the Port de Plaisance Race Village, especially for the Grand Finale on Sunday, March 3. Those on island who want to join in on the fun can get warmed up at one of the Regatta Ready venues, such as the Sint Maarten Yacht Club for the final Bridge Show at 2-3 PM Sunday afternoon.

The party continues in the race village, with the Grand Prize Giving at 6 PM and entertainment running late into the night. Feeling the FOMO? Catch the live reporting straight from the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta on Facebook and Instagram @stmaartenheinekenregatta and Regatta Radio live feed on Island 92 or island92.com

For complete information on the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, including results, photos, videos, party and band information, and much, much more, visit www.heinekenregatta.com

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