In the wake of Hurricane Irma, organizers of the annual St. Maarten Heineken Regatta have announced to use the Caribbean’s key maritime and cultural event to raise awareness and funds needed to rebuild the island of St. Maarten. The 38th edition will aim to raise funds for dedicated marine, humanitarian and environmental efforts through the K1 Britannia Foundation, the St. Maarten Nature Foundation, the St. Maarten Sea Rescue Foundation and the St. Maarten Yacht Club Regatta Foundation.
Over the years, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta has proven to be an integral event for the island of St Maarten. Starting of as a relatively small event in 1980 with 12 participating boats, choosing its dates in such a way to extend the Marine and Hospitality high season into March, to the world-class event it is today. Its economic impact evident through booking numbers at hotels and marinas, full restaurants, busy supermarkets and most often generating return visitors. The local population, regional and international sailors all join the “Serious Fun” that the event is known for, making this one of the most popular regattas in the Caribbean.
With currently over 50 boats officially entered, Regatta Organizers expect a good turnout for this unique edition of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. Michelle van der Werff, Regatta Director says: “It’s a very challenging year for everybody. We can’t just forget what happened in September, and the island is not back on its feet yet. But the support so far from the sailing community has been tremendous and we need them to help recover. Therefore, it was a no-brainer to go ahead with the Regatta this year and we decided to team up with these great Foundations to be able to directly give back to the community and help the people of St. Maarten in rebuilding their lives.”
One of the Foundations the Regatta will be working with is the K1 Britannia Foundation, whom are actively involved in many hurricane relief programs on St Maarten. Funds raised will help them continue their efforts. The K1 Britannia Foundation has selected four projects to which they will dedicate the funds raised during the Regatta. The first is their Second Chance Program, which secures job opportunities and funding for education for at-risk youth and foster children on the island. “We work with vulnerable youth on the island, many of whom have so much potential but little opportunity to continue their studies after high school. With your help, they can continue their studies to become the chefs, pilots, and sailors they aspire to be,” said project manager Iris Hakkens.
K1 Britannia has also committed aid in the reconstruction of several community-oriented organizations on the island post-Irma. “Another important project we felt was necessary to include to secure funding for is the Disaster Relief Plan,” Hakkens continued. “We’ve just been through something catastrophic, and we should take the opportunity to learn from it and be better prepared for the next major hurricane. Hurricane season is just a few months away, so we’re preparing early to be fully equipped for when the season begins.”
Lastly, the Foundation will be launching their Partners for Change program during the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta; the program was developed to recruit long-term sponsors to fund the Foundation’s regular activities.
Another well-established Foundation that will be part of the 38th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is the St. Maarten Nature Foundation. One of their key priorities after the storm was cleaning the Simpson Bay Lagoon from sunken vessels and determining the state of the water. They have organized many clean-up activities and are generating awareness of the importance of the Lagoon to St Maarten’s environment. During the Regatta they will also focus on a clean, plastic-free ocean and update sailors about the marine mammal migration.
The St. Maarten Sea Rescue Foundation (SSRF) is the third Foundation supported by the Regatta. The SSRF is an organization that’s fully run by volunteers offering assistance to sailors and mariners in need of help. They’ve been an important Partner of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta since the inception, securing safety on the water. Their Rescue- and Communication Office got completely wiped out during Hurricane Irma and their boats suffered severe damage. Funds raised during the Regatta would assist them in the continuation of their services.
The final Foundation is the St. Maarten Yacht Club Regatta Foundation. Severe damage was done to its premises. Nevertheless, they’re resilient to rebuild and get their Youth Sailing Program back on track. Michele Korteweg, General Manager says: “Our Youth Sailing Program is of great importance to the Sint Maarten Yacht Club and the community. Therefore, every effort has been made to continue the program with the limited resources available, but we do need additional funds to rebuild our docks and replace our fleet to get it back to the old standards. We aim to have our docks rebuilt before the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, but we still have a long way to go. We are keen to show the progress we have made so far to all of whom have been incredibly supportive. This year’s Regatta being a fundraising event is a wonderful development as the entire island needs the support and we are ready to welcome all the sailors and visitors back with open arms.”
All Foundations will play a significant role in the execution of the Event and will be present at the Regatta Village to provide more information about their projects.
St. Maarten Heineken Regatta
38 years strong and it just keeps getting better. Four days of world-class racing with some of the world’s most seasoned sailors, from more than 35 countries, sailing Maxis, Monohulls and Performance Multihulls to holiday-makers on chartered Bareboats and live-aboard families cruising the Caribbean. Crystal clear waters and cooling northeast trade winds give the pristine conditions for spectacular racing just off the coast of St. Maarten. And with Heineken as title sponsor, the racing days blend seamlessly into four nights of exceptional parties. This event is your bucket list must-do! Come and enjoy life in the Caribbean, come for some Serious Fun from March 1-4, 2018!
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.