St. Maarten Heineken Regatta Prize Giving Quotes from the boats and the inaugural Heineken Star Event.
Over 3000 people gathered on Kim Sha Beach for the 37th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta Prize Giving Party. There was an electric atmosphere as the huge audience waited for the winners to take the enormous stage. Guest of on Honor was William Marlin, the Honorable Prime Minister of St. Maarten, who delivered a welcome speech.
“Congratulations and a big thank you to the organizers of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. Over the years it has become one of the greatest events in the Caribbean and the number one regatta to attend. Thank you to the hard working team that have brought thousands of you to our shores. We welcome back those of you that are repeat visitors and those of you who are here for the first time and hope that you will all return next year.”
Chris Marshall, Commodore of the Sint Maarten Yacht Club was racing on Melges 24 Gill Race Team, skippered by Andrea Scarabelli.
“This is a huge event for our club, it is everything that the club revolves around. This is our time to shine, the moment that we can promote sailing in St. Maarten and also we do a lot of work with the youth and this event gives us a chance to get revenue in and build our youth sailing programs. We see ourselves as pioneers for sailing as a sport in the Caribbean, and we want to do the Caribbean proud.”
Ross Applebey’s Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster was the winner of the highly competitive CSA 1 Class and their epic achievement was awarded with the Most Worthy Performance at the 37th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.
It was 13th time lucky for Ross, having sailed here for twelve previous regattas, the British skipper had never won the top prize before. Scarlet Oyster is a head charter boat and the team had only come together for the event, making their achievement even more commendable.
“It doesn’t get better than this, it is amazing, it is our first big regatta win – I am dumbstruck! This is our favorite regatta and I am completely stoked, words just can’t describe the feeling. The guys sailed really hard all week, the whole team really jelled, really worked their socks off, and we won in a great class. As defending champions, we will be back next year.” Ross Applebey.
Ocean Racing Class – Volvo 70 SFS II, Lionel Pean (France).
SFS II scored straight wins for the regatta in impressive style, harnessing the big conditions to attain over 20 knots of boat speed in every race, including a new race record for the Round St. Maarten Race.
“I have been coming here on other boats for many years, but it has been incredible to race SFS II in great conditions – incredible and a joy to sail this crazy boat. We are very happy to come to the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta and have fun and enjoy good sailing. Since the beginning it has always been serious fun to come here both sailing and on the shore, we will be back for sure.” Lionel Pean.
CSA 2 – Humphreys 42 Oystercatcher XXXI, Sir Richard Matthews (Great Britain).
Sergio Sagramoso’s Melges 32 had scored straight wins going into the last day, but strayed into an exclusion zone in the last race. The Puerto Rican team retired, which meant that Oystercatcher XXXI was the winner. This was Sir Richard’s sixth regatta and included Rio 2016 Gold Medallist, Saskia Clarke, among the crew.
“We won by default, the boat that had beaten us soundly, went the wrong side of the penultimate mark of the course, gave us the class. We sailed well but they sailed better than us, we feel bad about it, but that’s yacht racing. This is supposed to be a gentleman’s sport, they had the very good grace of withdrawing from the race. That is the sign of a true sportsman and good conduct on their behalf and what makes the sport what it is.” Sir Richard Matthews.
CSA 3 – J/122 El Ocaso, Mitch Padnos (USA).
Mitch Padnos owns a J/122 in Michigan, USA and decided to charter El Ocaso and bring his race crew to the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta for the second time.
“El Ocaso is virtually a sister ship to my boat in Michigan, so it was a no brainer as it has been so easy to organize, bringing the crew here to come and enjoy the regatta, especially as it is no more than 4ºC back home right now. The regatta is very user friendly, between the marinas and the race committee. We are getting ready to sail back home, so having a blast here is great preparation for that, we are ready to go.” Mitch Padnos.
CSA 4 – Beneteau 45 L’Esperance, Sir Bobby Velasquez (St. Maarten).
L’Esperance was second in class going into the last race, behind Sir Bobby Velasquez’s longtime rival Sir Robbie Ferron racing Micron 99. L’Esperance won the last race to take the title ahead of Micron 99. Sir Hugh Bailey’s Antiguan Farr 45 Rebel was third.
“Today was fantastic, we love to make a big come back and we did. We love to be challenged and we saw it through, and did what we had to do to win. I have been very competitive with Sir Robbie over the years and for this regatta we also had Sir Hugh Bailey to race against. All of us have been knighted. So this will go down as the battle between the knights, and it was a hell of a battle.” Sir Bobby Velasquez.
CSA 5 – J/109 Pocket Rocket, Dave Cullen (St. Barth).
The Irish ex-pat Dave Cullen is a real fighter, and despite a damaged boat, the team finished the last race, to win the class, against all the odds.
“I have never won a regatta with such terrible results, a 6th and 8th and we still won! We got holed by a boat in another class in the last race. We decide the best thing to do was to race on! “Dave do you know the meaning of the phrase- Give up?) Dave – I think it is a potato crisp!” Dave Cullen.
Melges 24 – Gill Race Team, Andrea Scarabelli (St. Maarten).
After an epic battle with Frits Bus’ Team Island Water World 1, the team from St. Maarten, won the class in some style.
“We really like windy conditions, our team is well trained for that, so we do the manoeuvres well and we have good speed. It is also important not to make any big mistakes on the course. We do a lot of forward planning, for the next ten minutes, looking around at boats, to see what the wind is doing. We are very happy with our victory.” Andrea Scarabelli
Multihull 1 – Modified Sea Cart 30, Morticia, Shaun Carroll (Australia).
Unable to compete in the RORC Caribbean 600, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta was the first for the team that had come from Australia to take part.
“After a couple of weeks putting the boat back together, it was great just to be racing. After a lot of head scratching and long hours of hard work, it is really satisfying to come out with the win. This regatta really promotes multihull racing. Fair play to Fujin, who came second, we had to give it everything and it was an honor to sail against a great bunch of guys.” Shaun Carroll.
Bareboat Overall – KHS&S Contractors, Mike Cannon & Neil Harvey (USA).
“Thank you to the wind gods on the Dutch and French sides of St. Maarten for one of the best regattas I can recall for conditions.” Neil Harvey.
“This regatta has been the best thing since winning a Silver Medal in Rio. Just coming to have fun and sail with great people and enjoying St. Maarten, it has been awesome.” U.S. Paralympic Sonar Silver Medalist, 2016 Rio Games, Brad Kendell.
After the Prize Giving, chart topping British Reggae Band, UB40 feat. Ali, Astro & Mickey and R&B Diva Mya, took to the stage, closing the regatta for another year. The dance floor was buzzing through the night until the early hours of the morning.
St. Maarten Heineken Star Event – Monday March 6
The inaugural Heineken Star Event, sponsored by Yanmar, took place at Le Sand Resort, with delicious food and an extensive wine list. Marigot Bay produced feisty conditions but the party went on well into the night.
With and offshore breeze pumping up to 25 knots, the model Laser Yachts were on the edge of control, but that did not stop the high jinx from the spectators that had gathered in Marigot Bay. The dance floor was full of crazy people and the big sea state produced a challenge for crews from Morticia, Scarlet Oyster and Kick ’em Jenny 2. Ross Applebey from Scarlet Oyster was the winner.
The 38th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta will take place March 1 – March 5, 2018.