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That's a Wrap! St. Maarten Heineken Regatta Celebrates 44 Years Going Strong

by St. Maarten Heineken Regatta 6 Mar 15:40 PST February 29 - March 3, 2024
The iconic team `Something Hot` made up of all women from Heineken corporate, celebrated 27 years as a St. Maarten Heineken Regatta race team © Laurens Morel

The 44th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta has concluded - the Regatta Village is broken down, visitors have packed up and checked out, and some boats have taken their final journey out of the Simpson Bay Bridge until next year.

This past weekend, over 110 boats from 20 countries descended upon the 37-mile Caribbean island, showcasing the finest in sailing, sportsmanship, and yacht craftsmanship. The event, known for its unique blend of serious competition and laid-back Caribbean charm, delivered on all fronts, offering spectators and participants alike a week to remember.

Day 1: Setting Sail in St. Maarten

The Regatta started strong, over 110 boats lined up out of Simpson Bay for a great kick off to the 44th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. With so many boats, spectators had to make the tough choice to go to Committee Boat A or B to see their favorite fleets. Unsurprisingly, the first day was packed at Committee Boat A, where arguably one of the fastest boats in the world, Maxi Farr 100 Leopard 3, took the stage. The stunning yacht design and professional crew wowed spectators with impeccable starts, hearing the loud easing of sheets, and feeling its windshadow as the 100-ft Maxi passed by while blanketing the sky.

The spectacle and spirited competition within the Regatta was prevalent across all fleets. The sportsboat class in particular saw intense competition, with local Melges boats displaying their prowess. Budget Marine, despite strong performances, settled for second place overall, while a Surprise 25 from Martinique stole the show and took first in class for the entire Regatta. Last year's overall Regatta winner, Surprise 25 GFA Caraibes, looked as if they would be dethroned in the class by Doub 6, a fellow Surprise 25, who was taking first in class from the get-go. The battle was then on between the St. Maarten Melges 24s and Martinique's Surprise 25s.

Day 2: Around the Island Adventure

The second day saw most of the fleet embark on a full circumnavigation of St. Maarten/St. Martin, known as the Around the Island Race. With challenging winds shifts and island geography to navigate, the race provided a true test of skill - particularly on the "French side" of the island where tacks and tactics meant big gains and losses. Locally-owned Karibuni's strategic moves earned them a well-deserved victory in the Diam 24 one-design fleet, setting the stage for an exciting remainder of the regatta.

Guy Chester's Oceans Tribute trimaran took 1st in the Around the Island Race, which was a strong rebound from day 1's mid-fleet performance, and secured him on the podium for the rest of the Regatta. On Day 2, the event sadly lost L'Hippocampe from the strong competition in CSA1, who was cumulatively sitting in third place when they had to retire from the Regatta due to gear failure in their jib sheet blocks.

Day 3: Full Sail, Full Send

Breezy conditions greeted sailors on the third day, with winds reaching force 6 (22+ kts / 25 mph). The fleet, undeterred, hoisted full sails and embraced the challenge. The day saw some intense duels, with teams pushing their limits and showcasing their resilience. Despite some challenges, including a collision that took trimaran Tryst out of the Regatta, the spirit of camaraderie and determination prevailed, reflecting the true essence of the regatta.

Day 4: Grand Finale

The grand finale of the regatta was a fitting conclusion to a week of Serious Fun racing. The race committee ensured a variety of courses, providing a unique experience for each fleet, but ensured they would return in time for the Bridge Shows between 2-3 PM - and happy hour, of course! With ideal sailing conditions, teams gave their all, with some standout performances. Seabreeze emerged victorious in the Bareboat 1 Class, and Regatta overall winners, being undefeated in their class and taking home a SEIKO Prospex watch for their impeccable timing on the race course.

Aragon, who came in second in CSA 1, brought on the celebration for the final Bridge Show with the crew dressed up in "luck of the Irish" costumes and dancing leprechauns to celebrate their win and Irish heritage. The Grand Prize giving was impressive with trophies lined up across four tables for the various class winners, and special perpetual trophies to honor impressive performances throughout the event.

Internationally acclaimed reggae artist Tarrus Riley was the final one to take the stage and opened with the perfect song: "My Day." He got up on the same stage shared just hours before by the winning teams and sang, "So if you feel like a champion, then nothing can go wrong, this one is your song... Put away your troubles, put away your worries, help me sing along!" And that they did - teams, families, friends, travelers and locals all sang and danced the night away together, all feeling like champions.

Women in the Lead

Special prizes were awarded to celebrate other winners and leaders in the sport, such as Something Hot, the all-female Heineken corporate team who have been competing in the event's bareboat class for 27 years, and were awarded the trophy for Women in Sailing. Cary Byerley, the event's Race Committee Chair, was awarded the Robbie Ferron Trophy for her work in advancing sailing in the Caribbean - which includes her World Sailing and Caribbean Sailing Association tenures, and her curation of an internationally esteemed and balanced race committee and jury to serve at the St. Maarten Heineken Regattas.

Celebrating Inclusivity

Throughout the regatta, the spirit of inclusivity and diversity was evident, with sailors from all backgrounds and ages coming together to share their love for sailing. From youth sailors making their first Regatta mark in the Next Generation Race to seasoned veterans competing strongly against new young talent, the regatta truly embraced sailors of all ages and abilities.

The lineup of artists for evening entertainment sponsored by Heineken was a brilliant display of a Caribbean melange of sounds and vibes. All performers at the Port de Plaisance Regatta Village were from Caribbean islands, and St. Maarten's local artists were stars amongst the stars. "We're very multicultural here in St. Maarten. I grew up with everyone, Spanish, American, Haitian... I am inspired by all the different genres and the internationality of this island," said Tamillia Chance, local artist who performed on Sunday at the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.

Sustaining Generations of Sailing

Guy Chester of Oceans Tribute, a visiting yacht from Australia, is an advocate for sustainability and believes that data is critical to understanding both economic and environmental impact of the marine industry. Sailors are encouraged to take the St. Maarten Maritime Economic Impact survey here. Committed to only positive impact, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta works with the Nature Foundation for advocacy and environmental impact work such as local beach clean ups and marine fauna notices to sailors to help protect migrating whales.

Looking Ahead

As the 44th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta comes to a close, the organizers, sponsors, and volunteers can take pride in another successful event after almost half a century of the legendary Regatta. The event not only showcased the best in sailing talent, but also highlighted the beauty and charm of St. Maarten/St. Martin: its land, waters, people, food, music and culture. Preparations are already beginning for the 45th edition in 2025, and one thing is certain: the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta will continue to be a bucket-list event for sailors, tourists and residents alike - offering a perfect blend of serious competition and cool Caribbean vibes from day to night.

Watch the daily recap videos for Day 0, Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4. Missed out on the Serious Fun? Join the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta for the 45th edition of the event: March 6-9, 2025 - and follow the event's social media @stmaartenheinekenregatta for plenty of inspiration until then!

Overall Winner: NED Orange - Bareboat 1 - Silvy Leijh

Winners by Class:

CSA 1: Leopard 3, Aragon, Sisi
CSA2: Warthog, Pata Negra, Team 42
CSA3: El Ocaso, Spike, Moana
CSA4: Panacea X, Quintessence III, Caipirinha
CSA5: Solstice, Pepsi Zero, Maelia
CSA6: Doub 6 / Clippers Ship, Team Budget Marine, F.K.G.
Diam 24: MERLIN, Buzz Race Team, Karibuni
CSA Multihull 1: La Novia, Oceans Tribute, Little Wing
CSA Multihull 2: Hummingbird of Hamble, PEN BE, Anila
Bareboat 1: Ned Orange, Born to Rhum, Nauti Canucks
Bareboat 2: Baltics, Moon Rainbow, Team Passion
Island Time 1st Places Daily: Avocation (Thursday), SMYC Youth Sailing 2 (Friday), Bluejay of Portsmouth (Saturday), ORPHIE (Sunday)
Next Generation: Oskar Jarrett Versteegden & Chris Meekhoof, Nathan Sheppard & Robert Gumbs, Joseph & Lily Johnson

Special Trophies:

Serious Fun Bridge Show by Re/Max: Valhalla, Something Hot, Alpha Centauri of London, Creole
Heineken Serious FUN Prize: Team Trident
SXM Youth Challenge Cup: Emma Lenox
Multihull Winner of CMC and St. Maarten Heineken Regatta: Merlin
Representing Women in Sailing: Something Hot
Columbus Cup Bareboat Overall: Seabreeze
Fastest Monohull Non-Spinnaker Around the Island: Fujimo
Windward Island Bank Trophy - Fastest Monohull Spinnaker Around the Island: Leopard 3
Robbie Ferron Trophy - Promoter of Sailing in the Caribbean: Cary Byerley
Best Performance of Swan 65s: Saida

Most Worthy Performance Thursday: Doub 6 / Clipper Ship
Most Worthy Performance Saturday: Solstice
Most Worthy Performance Sunday: Budget Marine
St. Maarten / St. Martin Cup - Most Worthy Performance Overall: Seabreeze

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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