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St. Maarten Heineken Regatta Reigns as Largest Regatta in the Caribbean

by St. Maarten Heineken Regatta Office 15 Jun 09:14 PDT
The 100+ boat fleet of the 44th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta converges on the leeward mark on the iconic Around the Island Race, traditionally hosted on Friday of the 4-day Regatta © Laurens Morel / www.saltycolours.com

Once again, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is the largest regatta in the region, having welcomed 115 boats from over 20 different countries for the 44th edition February 29 - March 3, 2024. The event has a "Serious Fun!" legacy that has sustained generations, and will continue its success thanks to veteran and new leadership within the event organizing team.

Drawing participants from across the globe, the 2024 edition of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta showcased the unique blend of competitive racing and Caribbean charm that has made it an annual favorite among sailors, tourists, and locals alike. With over 1,000 sailors plus thousands more who come to the nightly parties, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is one of the biggest cultural events in the Caribbean, running for over four decades the first week of March.

"We're thrilled to see the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta continue to grow after some really challenging years for sailing and the island in general," said Cary Byerley, new Chair for the St.Maarten Heineken Regatta Steering Committee and veteran Race Committee Chair. "Racers have come to know that the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is truly an International event that brings together some of the most competitor-friendly race officials - that also just so happen to be top World Sailing Race officials. The Regatta competitors enjoy the diverse courses that they are given, along with the diversity of the boats on the water. Of course the regatta is not all about racing, our parties and entertainment are known to be legendary!"

Cary went from racing to race committee as her rolodex and work with World Sailing made her one of the most well-connected sailors in the Caribbean. For the 2024 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, Cary once again curated a world-class Race Committee and Jury, with Olympic and America's Cup experience - while she herself was on the water daily, race-reporting live with the Official Regatta Radio Island 92 team. This year, Cary was awarded the Robbie Ferron Trophy for her work in advancing sailing in the Caribbean and her curation of an internationally esteemed race committee and jury to serve at the St. Maarten Heineken Regattas.

Another leading woman, Michele Korteweg, captained the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta as Director for the past decade, leading the event successfully through extreme circumstances - from hosting the Regatta months after the island was destroyed from Irma to Covid cancellations and adaptations. She has been behind the Regatta's "key values" strategy, which has brought stakeholders together around the Regatta's values of sustainability, inclusion, generations and celebration. Michele will continue to serve St. Maarten's marketing and event needs with her own business, Shortcut 2 Success, while the Regatta welcomes a new Director, Krispijn Teunissen, to lead the event into its next era.

"The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta has not only survived but thrived through over 4 decades of incredible growth, and also extreme changes on the island. It has become a cornerstone of our island's high season, and is recognized internationally as a top sporting and cultural event. I am honored to have been part of such an inspiring and passionate team of people, who I know will continue to ensure the event is "Serious Fun!" for many more decades to come," shared former Regatta Director, Michele Korteweg.

"I look forward to being a part of this legendary St. Maarten Heineken Regatta team. This event is very important for St. Maarten and for sailing in the Caribbean. I want to keep the legacy going and make the 45th anniversary of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta an event to be remembered," shared new Regatta Director, Krispijn Teunissen.

One of the other key features of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is the island's dynamic sailing conditions and courses, which draw in both sailors and spectators. At this year's event, racers saw some of the best winds of all Regatta events this year - a picture perfect 12-19 knots seen throughout the 4-day racing event. Add to that the stunning backdrop of St. Maarten's rugged coastline, picturesque beaches, and vibrant cultural scene, and it's easy to see why the regatta consistently draws such a large and enthusiastic crowd every year since 1980.

Beyond the thrilling on-water action, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is renowned for its lively shoreside festivities. From beachside viewing parties and live music performances to delicious Caribbean cuisine and ice-cold Heineken beer, there's no shortage of ways to celebrate both on and off the water. The Regatta's legendary parties have become as much a part of the experience as the racing itself, creating memories that last a lifetime for participants and spectators. This year, international reggae artist Taurus Riley performed his hit song "She's Royal" at Sunday's grand finale - and certainly he was referring to the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta as the reigning Queen of the Caribbean Regattas!

As the sun set on another unforgettable edition of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, organizers and participants were already looking forward to next year's event: the 45th edition! With its winning combination of world-class racing, stunning scenery, and unbeatable atmosphere, the Regatta has firmly established itself as a bucket-list event for sailors and spectators alike. Mark your calendars for the 45th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta: March 6-9, 2025 - Registration is now open! ??

For more information about the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, including past race results, reports, photos, and news, visit the event website, www.heinekenregatta.com.

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