The multihull and monohull records for the Round St. Maarten Race were shattered on the first day of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. 193 yachts set off on the 26 mile circumnavigation, with strong Trade Winds from the east, the magnificent fleet enjoyed a spectacular reaching start in Simpson Bay. In one of the fastest races for many years, the huge armada provided a spectacular sight around the rugged coastline of St. Maarten.

Lloyd Thornburg’s Phaedo3 completed the Round St.Maarten Race in an elapsed time of 1 hour 19 minutes and 59 seconds, establishing a new race record. Phaedo3 also beat the course record, which was set by Phaedo3 in a successful attempt outside of the official race last year and won the Multihull 1 Class after time correction.

“We had a fabulous ride, it was wild and right on the limit of holding the J1 and the full main, so we had all the sails in the air. It was pretty exciting finding a lane upwind after rounding Plum Point as we passed a large number of the Bareboats, down the windward side of the island we were doing 30-35 knots and occasionally 37 knots, it was one of the best rides we have ever had on Phaedo3. It was really cool to start last and pass over 190 boats on the way around. Everyone look liked they were going well and enjoying the spectacle. We did have a couple of the maxis try to come up and defend their windward side but we were going too fast and by the end we were in clear air and able to do the business. As far as a race record goes, it is probably one of our better ones, I doubt if we could have gone much quicker and the weather conditions were close to perfect, so I guess we didn’t leave much on the table out there and we are really pleased with the time. The boat and the crew are all in good shape, but I think the team on the chase boat may have taken a worse beating but fair play to them for staying with us all the way around the island.”

Lord Irvine Laidlaw’s RP82, Highland Fling XI completed the Round St. Maarten Race in an elapsed time of 2 hours 12 minutes and 32 seconds establishing a new race record for the Round St. Maarten Race. Highland Fling XI afterguard, Mike Toppa, was delighted to hear the news.

“We had just the right amount of wind that the boat loves and we were going 11 knots upwind and hit 22 downwind on the last leg. Downwind the bow just sinks into the waves and we take off, the bow wave sprays up ten feet either side of the boat and you look at the speed and it goes from 16 to 22 in seconds. The helm is like finger tip control, I really enjoy sailing this boat, when it’s in the groove. Honestly, I don’t think we sailed the best race, we left a lot on the table, maybe we can do better next year. The whole experience today was wonderful, we were one of the last boats to start so we had to thread the needle through the smaller boats and when we passed them all, you look back and see the horizon full of sails and that is pretty cool; nothing like it. I have to say that the race committee is doing a really good job. I know they have worked hard at that and today went off without a hitch because it was so well organised. We are chomping at the bit for the rest of the regatta and ready to go tomorrow.”

Peter Harrison’s TP52, Sorcha completed the race in just over two and half hours and after CSA Rating time correction was declared the overall winner of the Round St. Maarten Race.

“You don’t see a scene like that in the Caribbean too often.” Sorcha’s navigator Campbell Field, commenting about the size of the fleet. “There was a bit of a compression on the northwest corner with a large number of boats at the first mark of the course and it started to get a little busy and we had a bit of traffic management! We stayed as high as we could and tried to stay with Highland Fling but they tore off and we knew that we would never be able to stay with them upwind. Sorcha stayed offshore a little bit, which might have meant more current but we had clear lanes and we could pick where we went. Once we got to Tintamarre, we eased sheets  and yeeeaha off we went! By Oyster Pond we could crack off a bit more and up went the ‘Fro’ (Fractional Code Zero). We were screaming along at 23 knots very close to the cliffs. It was a fantastic blast and we were home before lunch!”

A special mention for Bernard Sillem’s St. Maarten Beach Cat Gonzalo, which finished the course in an astonishing elapsed time of 2 hours 21 minutes and 16 seconds and Ross Applebey’s British Oyster 48, Scarlet Oyster, which was holed on the water line yesterday and having been repaired over night came back to win CSA 2 for the Round St. Maarten Race.

Congratulations to all of the Class Winners in the 36th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, Round St. Maarten Race. Full results are available at: http://regattaguru.com/heineken/100131