(St Maarten, Netherlands Antilles)- Have you ever considered going to an event in the Caribbean that plays host to more than 29 countries and 207 sailing teams? What could be better than racing in the tropical sun with crystal clear water and ice-cold Heinekens? “Naw-ting”, as they say, Mon! Apparently, many heed the call and make an annual migration to this amazing event, fondly called “THE Heineken” by those “in-the-know”, for some truly “Serious Fun”! The parties are O.T.T. (Over The Top), the Fashion Show is awesome and the music is all top-shelf entertainers from across the Caribbean.
While there may not be a dedicated "United Nations of Sailing," the next best thing is happening- the Heineken Regatta, taking place from March 6th to 9th in the waters off St. Maarten. It’s truly an international affair with sailors competing from every cardinal point of the compass. Boats will be flying the flags from at least 29 nations, including Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, France, Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland, Sweden, Malta, Monaco, Norway, Uruguay, Ukraine, Poland and the United States. And that's not even counting the talented sailors from the Caribbean, with entries from Antigua, Anguilla, Bahamas, Barbados, St. Maarten, Trinidad, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgins and British Virgins, among the many island nations represented.
To kick off the action on Thursday March 6th, over 40 boats will sail in the Gill Commodore's Cup, the traditional warm-up series sponsored by Gill, the regatta's official technical apparel supplier. Then, on March 7, the main event - the three-day St. Maarten Heineken Regatta - will commence.
"Racing on the waters of St. Maarten in early March...what's not to love about that?" said David Pritchard of Gill North America, the sponsor of the event. "Gill NA is proud to once again sponsor the Gill Commodore's Cup, please stop by the Gill booth or visit our retail partner, Budget Marine, and check out our groovy Gill sailing gear.”
The J/Clan will be well-represented in the CSA Racing/ Cruising fleets. Taking on the nine boat CSA 3 class is Jim Madden’s beautiful french-blue colored J/125 STARK RAVING MAD. Madden’s California-based team are fresh off sailing a highly competitive Quantum Key West Race Week at the end of January, they will surely be pumped-up to have fun and grab some silverware!
The CSA 4 class has seventeen entries and half the division are all J/Crews! Returning with a brand “new” EL OCASO is Rick Wesslund’s team from Miami, FL. Sporting a hot “NASCAR-style” paint job to go with their hot J/122, Wesslund’s gang are commencing their assault on the Caribbean Circuit once again and hope to achieve similar results as they have in the past (two years ago they won class in several regattas and overall honors!). Giving them stiff competition will be several duo’s of J/120s, J/109s, J/105s and a J/100. A Guadaloupan team will be on one of the J/120s and the other will be Larry Eikel sailing JAGUAR. Amongst the J/109s, the only all-women crew in the regatta will be Sophie Olivaud’s famous J/109 ALBACOR IV from St Barths (she recently sailed the RORC 600 race, too). She will be taking on David Cullen’s Grenadine team on POCKET ROCKET. One of the tougher battles will surely be amongst the two J/105s as both are sailed by veteran crews with hundreds of races under their collective belts. Jordan Mindich from New York will be sailing SOLSTICE and Peter Lewis from Barbados is skippering WHISTLER. As if you thought those J teams had enough competition on their hands already, toss in another Key West Race Week and Caribbean Circuit winner, Robert Armstrong’s famous red rocket ship, the J/100 BAD GIRL from Christiansted, St Croix USVI. Watch this space! It will be a donnybrook all weekend long!
Back for their 5th time in their J/95 is Tom Mullen’s SHAMROCK VII from the U.S.A, sailing in CSA 7 division with a dozen boats. A veteran of the Caribbean circuit over the years, Mullen’s SHAMROCK VII crew have managed to place on the podium well over a dozen times in the various regattas, garnering at least their fair share of silverware. It’s an amazing record for the J/95 considering she was designed to be just a “shoal-draft performance cruiser”! Apparently, she loves “cruising fast” for silver, too!
Rounding out the J/Teams is the always-popular crew that sail on the famous J/30 BLUE PETER, skippered by Tanner Jones. Like some of their colleagues, Jones and crew have managed to walk away from the awards at several Caribbean events with a load of goodies for the “pickle-dish shelf” at home.
The all-important social festivities schedule starts on Thursday March 6 with the “Dance Fever” party. Christine Gordon will take the main stage at the “Princess Port de Plaisance” and keep the crowds dancing non-stop. Joined by her band "The OverSoul", Christine will give everyone a lesson in the history of “the groove”. Evening festivities then continue on Friday March 7th with “Rock and Reggae”, on Saturday March 8th is “Caribbean Jam” night; and the grand finale is the “Legendary Partaayy” on “Kim Sha Beach” Sunday March 9th!
In addition to the party and awards on Sunday, there will be a showing of the 7-time award-winning documentary- “Children of the Wind”- at 1600 hrs on Kim Sha Beach— everyone is welcome! Co-creator and director Daphne Schmon explains, "this moving film follows two brothers and a cousin's journey from humble fishing families on the tiny Caribbean island of Bonaire to become three of the best extreme free-style windsurfers in history. Set against the backdrop of the 2011 Windsurfing World Cup on Bonaire, the film follows the boys over fifteen years as they transform not only their island but the face of the sport worldwide. The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta hopes to inspire and motivate the Caribbean community, showing them that there are no limits for children, or those young at heart, living in the islands, regardless of financial status, or location. There is always a way to achieve something great! This movie will teach them about perseverance, determination and motivation! A must see for the entire family!” Learn more about it here at: http://www.childrenofthewindmovie.com Or, on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/childrenofthewindmovie
For more St Maarten Heineken Regatta sailing information