A record entry of 81 yachts entered the Gill Commodore’s Cup, the prelude to the St.Maarten Heineken Regatta. 30 knots of wind with breaking waves, provided testing conditions for the fleet. The starting area on the south side of St.Maarten provided some relief from the ocean swell but the big breeze from the east cascaded over the hill tops forming bullets of pressure causing several boats to spin-out. Today’s best performers were the teams that kept their yachts under control in difficult conditions.
Eight Melges 24s braved the lumpy seas, often disappearing in the troughs of waves, the carbon fibre rockets were an awesome sight. Racing on a two-mile windward-leeward course, the bone-jarring wet ride upwind was rewarded by high-octane surfing on the downwind with spray everywhere. Budget Marine/Gill with Andrea Scarabelli on the helm, made a magnificent comeback in the first race to win the stamina sapping two-hour race by just over two minutes from Nicolas Gillet’s GFA Caraibes. In the final race of the day, GFA Caraibes was a weapon downwind, which secured the class win for the team from Martinique, by a single point from Budget Marine/Gill. Team Island Water World, skippered by Frits Bus, finished in third place for the class.
“Very tough conditions today.” commented Budget Marine/Gill’s skipper, Andrea Scarabelli. “In the first race, we had to fight back but we are very confident of our upwind speed and managed to get into the lead at the last top mark and kept in control to the finish. Unfortunately in the second race, we hit the top mark and had to do our turns, which were difficult to perform in the big waves, I guess we lost about two minutes there. The Melges 24 Class is really competitive this year, I am sure we will have some really close battles over the next three days.”
In CSA 2, Greg Slyngstad American J/125, Hamachi revelled in the big conditions scoring a perfect two straight bullets on the windward-leeward race track, beating some top competition. Sergio Sagramoso’s Puerto Rican J/122 was second with Peter Peake’s Trinidad team racing Dingo taking third. Greg’s crew is mostly from Seattle and used to the big conditions of the Pacific Ocean. Hamachi placed second in the 2013 St.Maarten Heineken Regatta and will be looking to go one better when the main event kicks off tomorrow.
In Bareboat 4, two teams from the Russian Sailing Federation enjoyed a fantastic battle. For three hours, Yury Kharazyan’s Red Star and Igor Omelchenko’s Perm Yacht Center raced side-by-side in the tough conditions. Red Star took the line by just 30 seconds, winning the class from Perm Yacht Center.
Mike Cannon & Neil Harvey’s KHS&S Contractors was the winner in Bareboat 3, just over seven minutes ahead of Kiev Racing Yacht Club, skippered by former 49er World Champion, Rodian Luka.
“We have been sailing together for some time and I think that showed today.” commented Neil Harvey. “We got off to a great start and the crew handled the boat really in tough conditions, so we are delighted with our overall performance. We definitely see Rodian and his Ukrainian team as our big competition for the St.Maarten Heineken Regatta, I have wanted to race against him for years. Today we won the battle but I am sure for the next three days, we will see some close competition in our class. Last but not least, well done to the race committee for setting a really good course today.”
Class winners of The Gill Commodore’s Cup were awarded clothing and accessories from title sponsor Gill North America. These prizes will be well received as the feisty conditions are set to continue for the St.Maarten Heineken Regatta, with racing scheduled to start tomorrow at 955 local time (-4 GMT).
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