The 35th St.Maarten Heineken Regatta has already attracted entries from 20 different countries: Antigua, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Dominican Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Puerto Rico, Russia, St.Maarten, Uruguay, USA and the US Virgin Islands.
The hallmarks of the regatta are sensational racing in a multitude of different classes and serious fun after racing, with top-line International and Caribbean acts, performing live every evening. In 2014, 215 teams participated, making it the largest regatta by participation in the Caribbean region. Thousands of people, from all over the world, come to the St.Maarten Heineken Regatta.
The regatta suits a huge variety of boats and sailors, this year the early entries include a myriad of different sailing boats from classic schooners to carbon fibre sportsboats. The regatta provides numerous classes including; Bareboat, Multihull, One-Design and a multitude of classes for performance keel boats, using the CSA Rating Rule.
The new generation Gunboat 55s will be making a Caribbean debut at the St.Maarten Heineken Regatta. The brand new Rainmaker and Toccata are amongst the early entries. Lightweight and super fast, Gunboats are ideal for Caribbean conditions and a fleet of at least six catamarans is expected to be ripping it up in St.Maarten, with the potential for more.
The new 55s and 60s will line up against regatta veterans including Elvis, CoCo de Mer and a recently turbo-charged Tribe and several other Gunboats may be available for charter. Capable of speeds of over 25 knots, the Gunboat posse will be an incredible sight at this year’s St.Maarten Heineken Regatta
“For Gunboat the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is all about fun and the racing is diverse and challenging. The camaraderie and competition among the class is outstanding. It’s our biggest class event of the year, and everyone brings their best.” Peter Johnstone, CEO & Founder of Gunboat.
Last year’s Melges 24 Class winner, Andrea Scarabelli’s Budget Marine/Gill, will be returning to defend their title and Andrea expects a bigger and more competitive class.
“”For sure the competition will be closer this year. The Melges 24 class is definitely growing both in boat number and in crew level. Last November we went down to Guadeloupe to race against the Melges 24 from the French islands and most of them will come here for the Heineken. We could have 11 boats this year and that would be really great racing!”
Red-hot one-design racing is on the increase at the St.Maarten Heineken Regatta. For the first time, there will be a Melges 32 Class. Puerto Rico’s Jaime Torres, skipper of Melges 32 Smile and Wave, has been coming to the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta for years and is bursting with excitement about the prospect.
“I am a huge fan of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. I speak highly of every event in the Caribbean because they are all great but this event provides reliable, super racing conditions and the regatta feels like an event where the whole island gets involved, if not on the race course, then definitely at the parties. The way that the organisers manage to mix the shoreside activities and the unbelievable racing is so incredible. The only thing that I thought was lacking was one design racing and as a champion of the Melges 32 Class, I felt compelled to make these two passions happen together. We will have mostly windward leeward racing, which is what a Melges 32 is made for. For me, this year will be the perfect mix and I can’t wait to get the party started.”
Beauty from Brazil
The elegant Brazilian Schooner, Atrevida is likely to be the oldest yacht competing at the St.Maarten Heineken Regatta and at 95ft one of the largest. The Herreshoff schooner, Wildfire was launched in Bristol Rhode Island in 1923 and became known as Atrevida, after she was sailed to Rio de Janeiro in 1946.
“This will be our first St. Maarten Heineken Regatta and we hope to find a friendly relaxed atmosphere along with fellow sailors who appreciate performance racing and skilled crew work.” commented Atrevida’s skipper, Atila Bohm. “Atrevida is 92 years old and to sail between the Caribbean Islands and enjoy some of the races that take place here is going to be wonderful; the trade winds and the beautiful Caribbean scenery, make it a very special place.
For the past six years, I have been the skipper of Atrevida with a crew made up of friends who enjoy sailing on a classic schooner. Even before we come to St.Maarten, it is really nice to have received such a warm welcome from the regatta organizers. Schooners are not common at the regatta but we have been provided with the opportunity of being part of such an important sailing event and it will be an absolute pleasure for us to take part.”
Celebrating its 35th anniversary, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is considered to be the biggest regatta in the Caribbean and offers a great combination of challenging races and fantastic parties: “Serious Fun”!