Innovation is key when it comes to keeping competitors happy on the water. With that in mind the 2015 St.Maarten Heineken Regattas race committee has been working long hours to keep the event fun and exciting, even though they are now in their 35th year. Changes to courses, opening up racing to non spinnakers in the Gill Commodores’ Cup, fine tuning the Sailing Instructions and making use of nature rather than marks, are some of the ways they are simplifying things for both sailors and mark layers.
One of the biggest changes in racing will take place on Thursday during the Gill Commodores’ Cup. Traditionally this race has been only open to Spinnaker boats, limiting the entries to a select few. This year the decision has been made to open racing to all boats with the exception of the Lottery Class. A majority of the racers will enjoy challenging Windward/Leeward racing, while others will do one race, depending on the class they are in.
For those who have attended the event before, the well known “Around the Island” race on Friday will remain in place, with a twist! This year most classes will circumnavigate the island of St.Maarten/St.Martin counter clockwise. Slower classes will be saved the rigorous work of sailing around the island, and will be offered an alternative, shorter course taking them towards the west side of the island.
In an effort to offer diversity in racing to the fleets, two start areas will be established and the start boats will switch locations each day. There will be two races on Saturday and weather permitting, there will potentially be two races on Sunday. The possibility of six races over the course of four days makes this particular regatta a challenging one.
In addition to all the changes in number of races, the race committee has refined the current system used to allow race officers more control out on the water. “This year the Race Committee has taken the opportunity to revamp the Sailing Instructions so they are shorter and clearer whilst still including all the vital details. In addition the new menu of Courses gives the Race Officers much greater flexibility as they can opt for courses that will give the optimum racing depending on conditions on the day without having their hands tied with by prescribed ones. We believe it’s a winning formula” advised Deborah Miller of Regattaguru.com
Furthermore, the race committee has also decided to replace several floating buoys with natural landmarks such as rocks. Alfred Koolen of the race committee mentioned “It is rather simple actually, rocks don’t drift away not even when they get hit by a boat. Several sailors brought it up in a general meeting we had and it simply reinforced what the president of CSA, Peter Holmberg, has been saying lately. Sailing close to rocks or shorelines adds to the experience especially when you sit on the rail”.
Currently the Sailing Instructions are ready and can be found online on the regatta website www.heinekenregatta.com. A printed copy will be made available to all registered boats in their skipper’s packs at registration. Courses will be made available at registration. Make sure to read all sailing documents before heading out onto the water, preparation is the key to winning you a spot on the podium!
St.Maarten Heineken Regatta
For 35 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