With the Serious Sailing completed, it was time for Serious Fun as hundreds of competitors at the 39th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta poured into the Regatta Village for the final night celebrations.
The huge flashing stage was set for the prize giving, with Heineken magnums and an array of trophies ready to be handed out to the winning crews. Dr Soc from Island 92, who has been amusing the crowds and reporting the action live on the water throughout the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta was the compere, with Robbie Ferron, one of the original founders of this event, handing out the prizes.
The action started with the Serious Fun Bridge Show. Every day, spectators judge the boats coming though the bridge opening for their fancy dress or other on-board antics. A guest appearance from the Pope on West Wind, a bicycle in the rigging on I Love Poland, and just being hot from Something Hot were all contenders, but it was the crew from Avanti who took the overall prize for their consistent high level of enthusiasm and inventive on-board fancy dressing that gained the highest marks.
The inclusive nature of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta was evident, as Hank Schmitt, founder of the Island Time Class called all competitors in this class onto the stage. Designed for cruisers, this class enables those who don’t usually race to enjoy social racing, with later starts and shorter courses.
Special category prizes included the Round the Island trophy, won by Ineffable for circumnavigating St. Maarten on just 2 hours and 27 minutes and the Fiji Cup was presented to Lascaris for the fastest bareboat rounding of the island.
The CSA 3 Performance 40 Class was announced as the Best Class in the Regatta, with Touch2Play, whose bright pink t-shirts had made them an eye-catching boat on the water proving that their boat handling was just as good as their appearance, being awarded the coveted Sint Maarten Yacht Club Cup for the Most Worthy Performance on Sunday.
The Performance Yacht Racing trophy for Most Worthy Charter Boat was awarded to Spirit of Juno. The Columbus Cup went to KHS&S Contractors, for their clean sweep of firsts making them the overall winners of the Bareboat 2 Class.
With over 22 countries represented at the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, there was one country which really stood out, both on shore and on the water. The infectious enthusiasm from the Polish boats as a whole made them the worthy winners of the Xerox Cup for Sprit and Style, presented to all the Polish competitors. Also specific Polish teams were awarded with the SOL Cup for fastest non-spinnaker monohull Round the Island being presented to Sailing Poland, and I Love Poland winning the Windward Island Bank Cup for fastest monohull with spinnaker.
With much hilarity, cheering and support from the crowd, the winning crews were ably managed on and off the stage by the Heineken girls. Matching team kit, national flags, mascots, family members, babes in arms and the now-famous Polish bicycle all made their appearance on stage, with the most elegant presence coming from the entire crew of the mighty Selene, beautifully attired in crisp shorts, white shirts and Panama hats.
Fling 16 won the Most Worthy Performance for Thursday, with Made in Midi taking the UTS Cup for Most Worthy Performance on Friday, and Lady Mariposa awarded the Heineken Cup for Most Worthy Performance Saturday.
Rousing cheers went up as the most coveted prize for Most Worthy Performance Overall throughout the whole event, was presented by the Honourable Minister of Tourism Stuart A Johnson, to Whistler, who also received a stunning watch from the Official Time Keeper ORIS.
Final thanks were given to all the sponsors of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, including the Sint Maarten Tourist Office, Shipwreck Shops, Port St. Maarten; with presenting sponsors ORIS, Motorworld, Fiji Water, Gill, Sunsail, Windward Island Bank, SOL, Carib Web Services, Country Club Port de Plaisance, Yacht Club Port de Plaisance and supporting sponsors Xerox-Obersi Group, Seahawk, Windward Roads, Island 92, Outdoor World, Solstice and of course, title sponsor Heineken.
With the official prize giving completed, the spectators were treated to a sneak preview of the promotional video for the 40t St. Maarten Heineken Regatta which will run from the 5th to 8th March 2020.
The buzzing atmosphere in the Regatta Village came to a head as the legendary bands took to the stage with The Elevators getting the party started followed by Orange Grove, before the eagerly anticipated headline act, The Jacksons, came on stage. With the crowds waving glowing green Heineken batons, The Jacksons performance was outstanding, playing many of their top hits, along with Tito Jackson’s aptly named single, “We Made It”. The dancing and singing carried on late into the night with Shermanology taking the final act into the early hours.
And so the 39th St Maarten Heineken finally drew to a close, with hundreds of smiling, exhilarated and exhausted sailors heading back to their boats for the final time. For some, this is now time to continue their cruising sailing, for others it’s back to work, whether on land or at sea,– but for all, this Regatta will leave unforgettable memories and above all, a desire to be back next year for the 40th St Maarten Heineken Regatta!
Photos, videos and all the race reports are now available at www.heinekenregatta.com