PORT DE PLAISANCE--Race Director Mark Townsend confirmed at Thursday’s first press conference that the Heineken Regatta’s around the island race will not take place today, but on Saturday instead as the weather forecast indicates the breeze will be strongest on that day.
The first day of racing was expected to be a very light wind day, but wind conditions were better than expected for the fleet of 101 boats from 25 countries.
The panel for the press conference emceed by Jeffrey Dr. “Soc” Sochrin included Marketing Chairperson Meg Reilly, Regatta Director Michele Korteweg, Race Director Mark Townsend, Dutch-side Tourism Bureau Director May-Ling Chun, Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Leo Lambriex, and St. Martin Tourism Office President Valérie Damaseau.
Reilly invited several competitors to talk about their first day on the water. Mats Lindström, co- skipper of Swedish boat Ossiana in CSA 4 disclosed they were 18 seconds off the pace to finish second in their class. The team sailed all the way to St. Maarten from Sweden.
Also interviewed was Pierre Altier from the Diam 24 trimaran class and Garth Steyn and Jordan Pieterse (17) from IGY Racing/Franny. Garth talked about the many Heinekens he has participated in and starting the Kidz at Sea programme.
“Last year was not a stressful as this year,”said Jordan who was named skipper on the J70 when she was asked about her first day.
The Dutch professional crew from Volvo 65 Team JAJO are competing in only three of the seven legs of the 2023 Ocean Race due to the current economic situation. “All the teams are struggling financially,” revealed crew member Laura van Veen.
Kate Cope from Purple Mist received applause for their first placed female double-handed team in the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) transatlantic race in January. She said Purple Mist is not really set up for inshore racing but they are enjoying the regatta nevertheless.
Minister Leo Lambriex congratulated the regatta organisation and the collaboration with the French side. “As long as we don’t have COVID again, and great sailors and great boats keep coming, I’m confident this regatta is good to go for another 100 years,” he said.
Tourism Bureau Director May-Ling Chun disclosed an economic impact study will be done with the French side before next year’s regatta.