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The 36th edition of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta was a record breaking affair. 84 yachts competed in the Gill Commodore’s Cup, the largest entry in its ten year history and 193 boats participated in the three day St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, the largest entry for a Caribbean regatta this season. Over 3000 people gathered on Kim Sha beach for the Prize Giving, with American award winning rapper Akon performing live, to close the regatta for another year.

This year the regatta organisers set four different courses, providing ideal race tracks for Maxi yachts, multihulls, spinnaker classes, bareboats and beach cats. Well over 100 volunteers of the St. Maarten Yacht Club gave up their time to assist the professional race officers during the regatta. Mother Nature smiled on St. Maarten during the regatta providing a range of conditions to test the competitors. The competitive nature of the regatta was shown by the fact that nearly every class was decided on the very last race.

CSA 3 consistently produced the closest racing with highly competitive starts and incredibly close finishes throughout the four race series. The class contained 13 yachts, all equally matched under the CSA Rating system, with nearly half of the fleet scoring podium results. Philippe Charret’s A40, Lipton and Richard Wesslund’s J/122 El Ocaso were tied at the top going into the last race. Lipton got away to a fantastic start but El Ocaso came back to win the final race and the class. El Ocaso was awarded the Most Worthy Performance at the 36th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.

“We love coming to the regatta; great racing and a fantastic atmosphere ashore.” commented Richard Wesslund. “We have been coming for years and the regatta just keeps growing and improving, we wouldn’t miss it for anything. This year, the competition was better than ever and that is what we like. Winning in a tough class is very satisfying. Many thanks to the organisers and the St. Maarten Yacht Club; you are doing a fantastic job.”

In the Maxi 1 Class, Peter Harrison’s British TP52, Sorcha dominated the class, executed text manoeuvres and boat handling to reel off four straight bullets, including overall victory in the Round St. Maarten Race. Irvine Laidlaw’s British RP82, Highland Fling X1 was second, but will take comfort from setting a new monohull course record for the Round St. Maarten Race of 2 hours 12 minutes and 32 seconds.

“To be honest we came to the regatta to sharpen up for future events and it has been extremely worthwhile. We have learnt so much about the boat in a short period of time. This year’s regatta has been well organised on the water and there is a lot of fun ashore. All in all, a great event especially in the heart of winter back in Europe.” commented Campbell Field, navigator of Sorcha.

“It is lovely to be here, you guys are doing an awesome job, at the awards ceremony everybody in the crowd was saying; this is how it should be done. The Highland Fling crew are top professionals from all over the world and they are all saying that you are doing an excellent job, so hats off to you all – well done.” Peter Holmberg, Highland Fling XI.

Of the 26 multihulls racing at the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, Lloyd Thornburg’s American MOD70, Phaedo3 was untouchable. Hitting speeds of well over 30 knots, Phaedo’s ballistic form secured the Multihull 1 Class with straight wins and an astonishing lap of St. Maarten in one hour and nineteen minutes and 59 seconds.

“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.” commented Lloyd Thornburg.

Mitch Sylvano & Michaux Corroy’s striking Carib Cat was the winner of Multihull 2 by a single point from Sergei Kischilov’s Selika. In Multihull 3 Andrey Arbuzov’s Karla scored straight wins to take the class but was pushed hard by Petr Kochnev, Nala.

Jason Carroll’s Elvis was the king of the Gunboat class for the third year in a row, having scored three straight bullets in the regatta. Elvis also won the Captain Morgan Award for Most Rum Worthy Boat, when one of the crew dived over the side to untangle a rope from a committee boat propeller. Elvis has been turboed since the last performance with a taller rig and an uber increase in sail area. Greg Gigliotti’s Tribe was second in every race. Angus Ball’s Coco de Mer held off a strong challenge from Jonathan Bush’s Zenyatta to take third.

“This regatta has the best sailing, the best regatta, the best parties, there is nothing not to come back for, it is just awesome!” Elvis’ boat captain, Scotty Bradford.

The Volvo Class contained yachts that have competed in over two decades of the round the world race including Team Brunel, which was second in the last edition. The Dutch flagged boat was chartered to Red Bull Eyewear and also contained several members of the round the world team including regatta skipper Gerd Jan Poortman. However PrzemysÅ‚aw Tarnacki’s Farr 60, Ambersail scored three straight bullets for a famous victory over Team Brunel. Chris Stanmore-Major’s Whitbread 60, Challenger was third and sailed to the Caribbean from Canada in January and literally had to cut the boat free from ice for an epic delivery including a 70 knot storm.

Frits Bus’ Island Water World completed a highly polished performance to win the Melges 24 class from last year’s winner Andrea Scarabelli’s Gill Race Team.

“The new boat is wonderful, it has made a lot of difference as you can see.” commented Frits Bus. “It has given us that little edge to concentrate on tactics and playing the wind. Now the competition is even more intense with seven good boats and I hope next year there will be even more and I would encourage young sailors to get into the Melges class and I will make my other boat available to the St. Maarten Yacht Club for young sailors.”

In CSA 1, Mark Chapman’s Trinidadian Ker 11.3, Dingo scored four wins out of five to dominate the class. Sergio Sagramoso’s Melges 32 Lazy Dog finished second in class with fellow Puerto Rican team, Luis Jarbe’s Soca, winning the last race to place third for the series.

“Thanks to the sponsors and the organisers, we really appreciate a great regatta. We have had a great crew this year and put it all together, everybody has put a big effort in.” Commented Dingo’s Mark Chapman.

In CSA 2, Ross Applebey’s British Oyster 48, Scarlet Oyster was holed in the Gill Commodore’s Cup but came back the next day to win class in the Round St. Maarten Race. The helter-skelter regatta continued for Scarlet Oyster with Renato Jose Da Cunha Faria’s Brazilian Dufour 500, Ventaneiro 3 winning both races on the penultimate day. However, Scarlet Oyster came back to win the last race of the series and the class by a single point. Don Terwilliger’s American First 47.7. Dauntless, held off a strong challenge from Jack Desmond’s American Swan 58, Affinity to take third.

“A fantastic feeling to win.” commented Ross Applebey. “We had a shaky start when we nearly sunk on the first day but the Coastguard backed us up quickly and the boat builders worked through the night to get us back and we came out pretty fired up. Winning is the icing on the cake, for a charter boat team that really gelled together – unbelievable.”

In CSA 4, Ben Jelic’s St. Maarten custom Kiwi 35, Wild Devil, nailed the final start to win the closest encounter of the entire regatta. Conor Fogerty’s Sunfast 36, Bam also got away well. After time correction on the final race, which lasted over two hours, Wild Devil was the winner by a single second. Overnight leaders; Jonathan Lipuscek’s Dark Star and Jordan Mindich’s Solstice were third and sixth in the last race, which meant that Wild Devil was the class winner on countback. Wild Devil was effectively class winner by a single second.

“The competition is so tough here, if you win this regatta, you can win any other regatta. On top of that we race with good friends have great parties! We have already reserved our place for next year.” commented Ben Jelic.

In the Beach Cat class, Turenne Laplace’s Alizés won the last race of the regatta to win the class from David Guiheneuc’s Carib Cleaning with Pierre Altier’s PYC third. Bernard Sillem won the Round St. Maarten Race in time of 2 hours 21 minutes and 16 seconds, an astonishing time considering that Bernard also broke his foot half an hour before the finish! The rip roaring speed machines are back at the regatta and many more are expected to participate next year.

Aleksei Dushkin’s Kiev Team Racing won the last race of the regatta to win the 60 strong Bareboat Class overall for the team from Ukraine. Jan Soderberg’s Swedish team racing Bageal scored a third in the last race to take second overall to Burkhard Fahrenkrog’s German team, racing Baltics.

“Super, super, super!” commented Aleksei Dushkin. “This is my second time at Heineken and we were second last year. This year we have practiced a little bit and we have a good team, I am so happy to win. Of course we will be back next year to defend our title.”

The 37th edition of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta will take place March 2nd – March 5th 2017. For full information on the 2016 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, including results, photos, videos, party and band information, and much, much more, visit www.heinekenregatta.com