With the entry list nearing the 200 mark, organizers have confirmed that the regatta will have a strong range of participants. The scratch sheet reads like a who’s who of Caribbean sailing and competition is guaranteed to be one for the books. At present there are 169 total entries, which include the largest Mulithull fleet in the region. Classes include Maxi, Former Volvo/Whitbread, CSA Monohull, Multihull, Bareboat, Beach Cat and Lottery. Entries are still possible and registration will begin on Tuesday March 1st 2016.
For yachting connoisseurs who enjoy the sleek lines of the Swans and the Bruce Farr designs, they will most certainly not be disappointed. With 10 entries so far in the Maxi class, spectators and competitors alike will have plenty to admire out on the water. Speculation is that competition will most likely be best in the cruiser part of the class with Swan 100 Varsovie, Swan 82 Ptarmigan , Shipman 80 Paula R, Bordeaux 60 Zampano as well as a Pendennis 77 Ocean Phoenix in the line-up. Kip Curren has entered as well with a carbon 1998 Carrol Marine 60 footer called Prospector, which once sailed the regatta under the name of Hissar. The odd boat out would appear to be Highland Fling which is an ultralight and a better competitor for the Volvo racer Brunel than the Swans and Shipmans. It will certainly be a sizable grand class that is sure to deliver a great racing experience and produce some incredible pictures.
A tight race is expected in the CSA classes with top Caribbean contenders like Dingo from Trinidad and Taz from Antigua as well as three Melges 32’s from Puerto Rico and St. Maarten. High end racers like British Botin TP52 Sorcha will also be on everyone’s radar. Helmed by Americas Cup sailor Campbell Field, she is sure to catch your breath as she makes her way around the marks. Amongst the heavier boats there are some old Heineken hands on deck like Alan Edwards on the Swan 65 Spirit, Jack Desmond on his Swan 48 Affinity and Hank Schmitt on Avocation. These teams are all crowd pleasers and frequent visitors to the podium in St. Maarten.
In the forty foot range there is an abundance of good entries including frequent victor El Ocaso who will be challenged to repeat his winning ways by boats like Liquid, another J122 with Richard Archer driving Pamela Baldwin’s well prepared boat which just recently won the Valentine’s regatta in Antigua. There is also Jings, the J133 from the UK with a slightly higher rating, Quokka the Grand Soleil 43 that rates lower and the First 40 Team Boston.
Additionally there are two J120’s entered (Paulista and Sunset), two Beneteau 47.7’s (EHO and Dauntless), two J105’s (Solstice and Dark Star) and two Dufour 40’s (Wild Ting and Por Favor) that make this grouping reminiscent of Noah’s Ark planning.
One of the Caribbean talents to keep an eye on is Jonty Layfield of Antigua who will be at the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta for the first time with a J111 called Sleeper which has done well in Antigua but has not yet been seen at the Heineken. He won Antigua Sailing Week overall in a borrowed boat with an outstanding and surprising performance.
The Gunboat group shows 6 entries composed of mainly 62’s. We will see some entries that have shown great performances at the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta before like Elvis, CoCo de Mer and Tribe. This year the fleet will also include the new Arethusa from Phillip Lotz who has been at this regatta with his Swan 42 in the past. With such a nice Gunboat turnout, organizers have confirmed that they will indeed have their own class, separating them a bit from the other Multihulls.
Whilst the Multihull class is large, the racing Multihulls that are currently entered do not exactly constitute a close rating bunch. Phaedo3 is of course the fastest while the Formula 40 Soma is quick and could have a close race with Arawak. The cruising multihulls, on the other hand, are a different matter. There is a wide group of Catanas, Lagoons, R and C’s, Fontaine Pajots and now a new Open 40 from Bavaria which is an interesting design and all of whom together will certainly make for attractive racing.
Rounding out the herd are some of the old and successful hands in the bareboat class. Family Kees Jan, Rene and Martijn Baartmans have both been on the podium many times and are entered again with the well-known Harten Heer, Gruppo Sportivo and BZN. The well established women’s team Something Hot with Marieke Poulie is back as well. Neil Harvey, the famous Aussie, has returned with an American team called KHS&S Contractors who have won the division before. Karst IJstma, a one-time Sint Maarten resident now in Curacao is back with a team again, as is Michel Ruijter and Hans van der Gulik from Curacao. But to top it off there is the entry of the great Jan Soderberg the Swede who won bareboat classes in the Caribbean regattas so consistently for so many years nobody could understand how he did it. Turns out he is just a fantastic (and humble) sailor. That said, organizers are positive that this division will have a stellar year.
For any sailors interested in rubbing elbows with this amazing group of sailors, entries are still being allowed and competitors will be able to enter during registration as well, which takes place on Tuesday March 1st through Thursday March 3rd 2016.
St. Maarten Heineken Regatta
For 36 years, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta has showcased the top boats and sailing—and has become equally famous for its world-class slate of parties and musical entertainment—in the Caribbean. Now recognized by sailors around the planet as one of the sailing world’s best regattas, each year the event lives up to its worthy motto: Serious Fun.
For full information on the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, including results, photos, videos, party and band information, and much, much more, visit www.heinekenregatta.com.
St. Maarten Heineken Regatta Office
The Sint Maarten Yacht Club
Welfare Road 90, Simpson Bay, St. Maarten
T: +1 (721) 5442079