The high quality of competition and organization for the 43rd Regatta was admired by judges, sailors, and the local community.
March 6, 2023 – Simpson Bay, St Maarten – Sun-tanned, grinning and on that post-racing ‘high’ from a successful regatta, the competitors, families and friends at the 43rd St. Maarten Heineken Regatta are now packing up their kit and preparing themselves to leave the Regatta Village at Port de Plaisance.
For some, it’s time to prep their yachts to sail onto other events in the Caribbean, and for others, with heavy hearts, it’s the short journey to the Princess Julianna airport for flights back to cold, grey and even snowy weather back home.
For the teams who chartered bareboats, simply picking up their personal kit, tidying from last night’s party and handing the yacht back to Sunsail makes for an easy end to the regatta. For the Dutch team racing on Maguy, renamed as Freddie’s Friends in recognition of Freddie Heineken for this Regatta, they are joining their partners and children to relax at a nearby villa for a well-earned vacation in St. Maarten.
Getting sailing teams together for high-quality racing during the cold winter months in their home countries is often named the main attraction of attending the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. This year sees an increase in Canadian teams, with two bareboats independently chartered by members of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club. “We didn’t actually know each other before coming to this regatta” laughs helm Hart Buck on Asterias and competitor Ian Wightman on Nauti Canucks. “It was friendly competition. They even lent us some Heineken earlier in the regatta when we ran out,” said Hart.
For others, what looks like a fun-filled week of regatta sailing in the sun is actually work. Heineken has entered an all-female team of employees in the Regatta for 25 years, with this year’s crew from Heineken’s offices in Australia, the USA, and of course, the Netherlands. The chartered bareboat is always named “Something Hot” and tactician Maxine Burgers, Revenue Manager with Heineken, says the company recognizes that having staff racing together helps them develop their skills with teamwork and encourages female empowerment. “We have to perfect boat handling together and make no mistakes in the tacks and gybes,” she says.
Also working at the Regatta were the six members of the International Jury, headed by Ana Sanchez from Spain. “We have five international jurors here and one national judge,” she explains. “It’s a very strong jury.” This is somewhat of an understatement: Ana is the former Vice President of World Sailing, has sat on the jury at five Olympic Games and has just been appointed as the chair for the Organizing Committee for the 2024 Olympic Games. “It’s a big honor,” she says “It’s the first time the chair is a woman.”
Fortunately, the jury found themselves with relatively easy post-race evenings – there were only a handful of minor protests, some of which were even withdrawn or resolved prior to entering the jury room. Despite little onshore action, Ana explained that their role was also to be on the water, to take a view and feeling on the conditions and on the sailing. “I was very impressed by the performance of most of the crews,” she said. “They showed a very high standard. I was especially impressed by the quality of racing in the Diam fleet and Class 3, with the Melges and Cape 31.”
On the final evening, Ana presented the FLOW Trophy for women representing sailing together with Ivy Lambert from FLOW. This year’s recipient was Puerto Rican Gretchen Ortez from Lazy Dog for her stellar performance as bowperson for the winning team in CSA3.
Praise for the PRO Mark Townsend and the Race Management Team for enabling smooth and trouble-free racing during the week was also a common theme from the competitors. “It’s fantastically organized,” said Frederik Boberg from Stockholm, who was helming Moody 62 Ossiana, “the starting [sequence] is tremendous and there’s no confusion.”
The final day’s racing saw many fleets battling for points to earn their place on the podium and in the spotlights on the massive Heineken stage set up for the final night’s prize giving.
In CSA Class 1, despite Wind Whisper pulling two bullets from the day’s racing, it was I Love Poland who emerged first overall in this hotly-contested fleet, with Wind Whisper second and Team JAJO third overall.
In CSA 2, with just a few points between them all, it was a final bullet in the last race which gave Hooligan first overall in this class, with Privateer coming second overall and Final Final’s consistency giving them third place.
Also enjoying one final race, CSA 3 gave spectators one last chance to enjoy Flying Jenny’s spectacular spinnaker featuring a gorgeous image of owner Sandra Askew’s mother, Jenny. But it was the team on board Lazy Dog who pulled all the stops out to get a final bullet, with Team Island Water World second and Flying Jenny third overall.
With only four races to count in CSA Class 4, Fatjax maintained their first position overall with Ossiana second and Axonite third. However, it was Axonite that arguably won the Serious Fun Bridge Show in class with their entire crew glitzed out in bright costumes to delight the crowd waving in the fleet at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club.
Over on Course B, it was the battle of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club teams for second and third place overall in the Bareboat 1 class. Despite Asterias getting a second place in the final race with Nauti Canucks forced into fourth place, after discard it was Nauti Canucks who came second overall with Asterias taking the final podium position. Celebrating their country’s success, Hart Buck said: “We’re pretty excited that we were able to get onto the podium with some other Canadians.”
Returning bareboat team Phat Dolphin from Greece took first place in class and other honors, representing their country very well as the only team from the Mediterranean island. Special trophies awarded to Phat Dolphin at the overall prize giving ceremony included the FIJI Trophy for being the Fastest Bareboat Around the Island and the Columbus Cup for winning Bareboat Overall.
In Bareboat 2, it was all to play for between Tantalizer, Seven Seas, Creole and Something Hot on the final day. With Knot Advised, helmed by Jim Proctor, throwing in a first on the last day, Creole‘s second place in the final race matched their points against Tantalizer’s fifth place, to leave the top two boats on equal points. After reviewing the results to see which boat achieved the highest finishing places in the Regatta, it was the team from Tantalizer who emerged the overall winner.
Also enjoying their final race, the Island Time fleet saw Swan 56 Tramontana scoring their second bullet – having retired and DNF’d in the first two races – with First 210 Maline coming second with AS JEFFRY ET MDA in third place. With the CSA ratings for this class adapting each day according to the previous day’s race results, this is a great class for liveaboards, world travellers and even racing yachts who just prefer a more laid-back way to take part in the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.
Hank Schmitt, the originator of the Island Time class concept was full of praise for this year’s event. “Race committee boat B, the race organization staff and volunteers made exceeding our expectations easy. Our yacht, Avocation, with paying crew aboard, always strives to exceed expectations for her clients. We will be back for our number 19th regatta next year,” he said.
Looking to the future, Hank hopes that more yachts will join the Island Time Class. As a spokesperson and avid promoter of sailing to and around the Caribbean through the NARC Rally, Hank has made tremendous efforts to bring more boats to the region and sail in Caribbean events. At the final prize giving, Hank was recognized by the Regatta Organizers and awarded the Robbie Ferron Trophy for Promoter of Sailing in the Caribbean.
Gaining 4th overall on Sunday, Bunglebird with her wishbone boom looking more like an overgrown windsurfer on the water, gave her a worthy first overall. The youthful team of sailors from Royal Norwegian Yacht Club on board X-43 Beluga had some good results over the week, and helmsman Henrik Haaland explained that only three of the crew were actually experienced racers. “We’re looking forward to gathering the boys together in our off-season and finally racing together again. But also, looking forward to having a good time at the after-parties.”
In the Next Generation Race on the Sint Maarten Yacht Club’s fleet of RS Zests, it was Team 1 with Skipper Veronica and a mixed crew who took first overall. This regatta-in-a-regatta is designed to inspire the next generation of talent to stay involved in the racing community after junior sailing, and certainly, their moment up on the big stage left many young sailors dreaming big.
With the prize-giving completed, and the crowds in the regatta village enjoying their ice-cold Heineken, celebratory bubbles form Veuve Clicquot or Caribbean cocktails with Tito’s vodka – and lots of cold fresh Fiji water to rehydrate, it was time to catch up with Regatta Director Michele Korteweg on her thoughts for the 44th St Maarten Heineken Regatta, taking place between February 29 and March 3, 2024.
“We are receiving such great feedback from our competitors that we are already getting excited about next year’s event. I think there is a lot of potential to grow certain classes by showcasing how competitive this Regatta is. The CSA rule designed by the Caribbean Sailing Association keeps being further developed, making racing in our region extremely exciting and it showed specifically in our CSA 5 and CSA 7 classes – and that’s what we want for the entire fleet. Making this our focus, we will continue to attract the highest quality of international pro sailors, which is what makes this such a pull for all competitors, from experienced sailors to the aspiring up-and-coming youth,” said Michele Korteweg, Regatta Director.
St. Maarten Heineken Regatta would not be possible without the support of the entire island of St. Maarten/Martin and our international and local sponsors, including: Oris Watches, Veuve Clicquot, Tito Vodka, Shipwreck Shops, Remax/Yachtshop, Kooyman, Sunsail, Windward Roads, Seahawk, Island 92 Radio, Windward Islands Bank, Flow, Port St Maarten, St Maarten Tourist Board and of course, title sponsor Heineken. Follow the Regatta media, share memories and get inspiration for your trip to join us next year on Instagram and Facebook @stmaartenheinekenregatta
🥇 I Love Poland
🥈 Wind Whisper
🥉 Team JAJO
🥇 Hooligan Racing
🥉 Final Final
🥇 Lazy Dog
🥈 Team Island Water World
🥉 Flying Jenny
🥉 EH01 – Global Yacht Racing
🥇 GFA Caraïbes – La Morrigane
🥈 Sang Neuf
🥇 2 2 Tango
🥉 Oceans Tribute
🥇 La Novia
🥉 Honey Badger
🥈 Lamne (Baywatch)
🥉 Speranza B&B
🥇 PHAT DOLPHIN
🥈 NAUTI CANUCKS
🥉 Seven Seas Maastricht
Island Time (Final Day):
🥉 AS JEFFRY ET MDA
Next Generation Race:
🥇 Team 1 – Skipper Veronica
🥈 Team 2 – Skipper Massimo
Special Awards & Trophies:
Special Awards & Trophies:
Robbie Ferron Trophy – Promoter of Sailing in the Caribbean
Hank Schmitt Avocation
SXM Youth Challenge Cup – Best Youth
Jordan Pieterse IGY Racing
Fiji Cup – Fastest bareboat around the island
Phat Dolphin Wladislaw Kochanow
Columbus Cup Bareboat Overall
Phat Dolphin Wladislaw Kochanow
Multihull Winner of CMC and St. Maarten Heineken Regatta
La Novia George Coutu
Heineken Trophy Most Worthy Performance Saturday
Lodigroup Loic Escoffier
Port St. Maarten Trophy – Fastest Multihull around the island
Lodigroup Loic Escoffier
Randy D West Trophy – Most Worthy Multihull
Cry Baby Pierre Altier
Most Worthy Performance Sunday
Panacea Harold Keating
Most Worthy Performance Friday
Liquid Pamela Baldwin
Most Worthy Performance Thursday
Island Water World Frits Bus
Flow Trophy – Representing Women in Sailing
Gretchen Ortez Lazy Dog
Windward Island Bank Trophy – Fastest Monohull Spinnaker Around the Island
I Love Poland Grzegorz Baranowski
St. Maarten/Saint Martin Cup – Most Worthy Performance Overall
GFA Caraibes – La Morrigane Tristan Marmousez
🥉 Team 3 – Skipper Melina