St. Maarten Heineken Regatta 2016– This past week hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors flocked in droves to the shores of IJhaven in Amsterdam to see over 600 ships come into port as part of SAIL Amsterdam, an event takes place once every five years.
One of the boats on the water was none other than Team Brunel, second place winner of the 2014-2015 Volvo Ocean Race. It was here that campaign director of Team Brunel-Sailing Holland announced the Caribbean tour for the VO 65 Team Brunel. Skipper Bouwe Bekking was also on-hand for the celebrations, together with his team, and is looking towards the future. ‘We hope that all of you will join us in the next race 2017-18. In the mean time we will keep on sailing this boat here in Europe and this winter in the Caribbean’ Bekking stated.
The VO 65 will be based out of St. Maarten, where the Sint Maarten Yacht Club will host several activities. This stunning piece of technology will be able to be seen by all when it is on its mooring in the Simpson Bay Lagoon, and will be on display at the Yacht Club dock on the Wednesday leading up to the 36th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. Team Brunel will race in the Gill Commodores Cup as well as the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. The regatta organization has added a special Former Volvo-Whitbread class in which Team Brunel will be entered.
First on the agenda is to sail the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) which will take them from Gran Canaria to St. Lucia, some 2700 nautical miles. From there they will head to St. Maarten to set up base and will take part in several other Caribbean races. In between racing the boat is available for charter, giving sailors a chance to feel what it is like to sail aboard this racing machine that took second place in this past Volvo Ocean Race. Skipper Bouwe Bekking was very excited to visit St. Maarten once again, ‘I have very good experiences with the Friendly island and I am looking forward to sail in the warm waters again.’
During the announcement at SAIL, Bekking and bowman and co-skipper Gerd-Jan Poortman received a Sint Maarten Yacht Club Burgee and a St. Maarten Heineken Regatta first place flag. Poortman, regarding the flag, stated ‘This might be somewhat premature for us but we will try and win the new and exciting class of course’. Sailors Jens Dolmer, Louis Balcean and Stefan Coppers were also in attendance. They will sail on the boat in the Caribbean whenever they are able to combine it into their busy schedules.
Regatta director Michelle van der Werff is pleased with this announcement, she mentioned ‘We are of course thrilled to welcome Team Brunel to race during the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta and we are very pleased that they have chosen St. Maarten as their home base for the winter season. It goes to show that these boats are comfortable here in the Caribbean and we look forward to welcoming more of the Volvo Ocean boats to our event and the region.’