It was another sunny Sunday in St. Maarten for the final day’s racing at the 43rd St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. With slightly lighter winds forecasted, PRO Mark Townsend set two courses for most of the fleet.
Tension was high, with many boats counting on getting good results on the water today to seal their podium places. Vying to ensure they were in the best position to be ahead of their main competition, all the fleets got off cleanly on their starts.
The course took the CSA racing fleets upwind to Pelican Rock then turning onto a long and glorious downwind leg to a turning mark just beyond the airport. The course then took them back upwind, to a turning mark windward of the committee boat giving a final short downwind to the finish.
On the final stretch to the finish there were several yachts forced into fast-action gybes on the short approach to the finish line. This final day’s racing saw some really close tussles between the one design and sportsboat classes, with the three leading Melges 24’s of Team Island Water World, Team Budget Marine and FKG all within seconds of each other across the finish line in the first race.
Once again in the Diam fleet, it was Cry Baby who took a convincing lead, with Anomaly second and Karibuni third. The youngsters on board AS MDA had grins as big as kids on Christmas Day as they crossed the finish line.
At the Simpson Bay start managed by Committee Boat B, there was just one race scheduled for the three multihull classes, the bareboats and the Island Time class. Multihull 1 headed all the way to Blowing Rock off of Anguilla, while Multihull 2’s race took them to Marigot Light and back, also finishing in the Simpson Bay.
Lodigroup, skippered by solo Transat 2022 Route du Rhum winner in the Open Multihull class, Loic Escoffier gave returning winning team 2 2 Tango some of their toughest competition to date in the 43rd St. Maarten Heineken Regatta – photo © Laurens Morel / www.saltycolours.com
Going into the final race there was all to play for in Multihull 1 class, with Lodigroup and 2 2 Tango on equal points. With Lodigoup’s helm Loic Escoffier declared the winner of the Multihull Open Class in the 2022 Route du Rhum, the pressure was on Anthony McVeigh and his crew to hold their nerve in this final race. It paid off, with 2 2 Tango securing first place in the final race, just putting them ahead of Lodigroup who came third today with Oceans Tribute nipping into second place. This left the final results with 2 2 Tango first overall, Lodigroup second and Oceans Tribute third.
The bareboat class leaned on the one race discard allowance, meaning there were some rapid calculations going on board as crews figured out what the day’s results on the water would mean for the final podium places. The crew on Phat Dolphin are all friends through their sailing club in Greece. “It’s a holiday and a way to all travel together and sail together,” says Inessa Saukh, adding with a smile, “We’re really very serious so this is a way to have some fun.”
Certainly they were serious about the racing, putting in a solid string of results making them uncatchable on the final day.
The initial plan was to have two races for the CSA fleets 1- 7 but PRO Mark Townsend announced a change of sailing instructions over the radio, giving only CSA Classes 1-3 a second race. With the wind easing, this ensured the rest of the fleet would get through the 14:00 and 15:00 bridge openings, and have a chance to display their best costumes and performances for the Remax/Yachtshop judging panel positioned at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club.
Now competing in their final race, the big beasts in CSA 1 set off promptly and once again it was VO65 Wind Whisper who took the lead with the larger VO70 of I Love Poland working hard to catch up. After corrected time, today was finally Wind Whisper’s chance to shine, getting two bullets on the last day, with I Love Poland second and Team JAJO third overall. Cumulatively though, it was I Love Poland who emerged first overall in this hotly-contested fleet, with Wind Whisper second and Team JAJO third overall.
Also enjoying one last race, CSA 3 gave spectators one last chance to enjoy Flying Jenny’s spectacular spinnaker featuring a stunning 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, a first place for the Swedish crew on board Ossiana saw them finally pushing Fatjax into second place. However, this wasn’t enough to knock Fatjax off first position overall in this class, with Ossiana second and Axonite third. Spotted sitting on the deck sipping Veuve Clicquot in the afternoon sunshine, the crew on Ossiana were checking the weather conditions in Gothenburg for the crew flying home tomorrow. “Oh, it’s snowing,” says helmsman Frederik Boberg. “It’s been fantastic organization and racing, and the starting [committee] is tremendous.”
In addition to organizing the 14 classes within the Regatta, the Sint Maarten Yacht Club also used this event to encourage the sailors of the future with the Next Generation Trophy. This event was hosted over the weekend of the Regatta, in six identical RS Zests raced by young talent from the junior sailing program. Each boat has one experienced laser sailor, an opti sailor and a new junior sailor to complete the crew and create pathways for more young sailors in St. Maarten.
Under the coaching of Sam Peeks, the under 16-year olds competed in five races. It was Veronica Destin who was victorious with 6 points, followed by Rio Stomp in second place and Emma Lennox third. For Rio, aged 13, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta gives him ambition to be a pro sailor. “I want to start sailing some of the bigger and faster boats that we see racing here,” he says.
The final competition for the 43rd St. Maarten Heineken Regatta was the legendary Bridge Show in front of the Sint Maarten Yacht Club – photo © Laurens Morel / www.saltycolours.com
As the sun started to set on the Regatta Village, the spotlights were turned onto the Heineken Stage, on which the array of prizes had been set out. Fittingly, it was the youngsters from the Next Generation Trophy who were called up into the spotlights first, to accept their prizes from the Port of St. Maarten and one of the founding members of Sint Maarten Yacht Club, Robbie Ferron. The awards ceremony continued as the sun set and the full moon rose, with the winners from all the classes called onto the stage to accept the glistening trophies and awards from sponsors that included Oris Watches, Veuve Clicquot, Tito Vodka, Shipwreck Shops, Remax/Yachtshop, Seahawk, Island 92 Radio, Windward Islands Bank, Flow, Port St Maarten, St Maarten Tourist Board and of course, title sponsor Heineken.
Then, with the #SeriousFun sailing part of the Regatta completed, it was time for the party to begin as Grammy award-winning artist Koffee took to the stage, and the sailors, families, friends and hundreds of locals from this welcoming and friendly island, came to party the night away. The 44th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta will be hosted from February 29 until March 3, 2024, and many of the competitors have already confirmed they will be back!
St. Maarten Heineken Regatta
Celebrating 43 years, this Regatta just keeps getting better, four days of world-class racing with some of the world’s most seasoned sailors, hailing from over 25 countries. This is genuinely a Regatta for everyone, including professional teams sailing Maxis, Monohulls, and Performance Multihulls to holiday-makers on chartered Bareboats to live-aboard families cruising the Caribbean. Crystal clear waters and cooling northeast trade winds give the pristine conditions for spectacular racing just off the coast of St. Maarten. This event is your bucket list must-do! Come and enjoy life in the Caribbean; come for some Serious Fun fro February 29 – March 3, 2023!
For complete information on the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, including results, photos, videos, party and band information, and much, much more, visit: heinekenregatta.com
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