Day 1: The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is Warming Up!

Day 1: The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is Warming Up!

Overall winners of the 2023 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, GFA Caraibes - La Morrigane - returned with a surprise: another fellow Surprise 25 from Martinique to heat up the competition © Laurens Morel

 february 28, 2024 – Simpson Bay, St. Maarten – The 44th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta started off with a bang with full sails up and full energy turned ON! Over 110 boats took to the startlines – split between two committee boats responsible for 5-7 classes each, running a total of 23 starts for an incredible kick off to the 2024 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.

Competition really heated up in the sportsboat class, and the starts meant everything in this hyper-competitive fleet. The local Melges boats proved their local knowledge, with Jolyon Ferron, Skipper of Budget Marine, nailing the final race start and favoring the committee end of the start line, while the rest of the fleet went pin-end. The lighter wind conditions today hovering around 10-13 knots forced a lot of the fleet offshore, as the mountainous island laid large wind shadows over those who dared to try a shoreside route.

Budget Marine, despite often making it around the marks first in the fleet, was ultimately scored in second place overall, with a new-to-the-Regatta Surprise 25 from Martinique taking everyone by surprise. No, this isn’t the Surprise 25 you’re thinking of – GFA Caraïbes - La Morrigane, who came in 3rd today – this Surprise 25 also came from Martinique to give their fellow islanders a run for their money abroad. Doub 6 / Clippers Ship took first in class, proving that sailors from Martinique are a great match for St. Maarten’s top sportsboat sailors.

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Guy Chester and his trimaran Oceans Tribute are a long way from home, but Guys has found a home within the Caribbean sailing community, and is committed to giving back © Laurens MorelGuy Chester and his trimaran Oceans Tribute are a long way from home, but Guys has found a home within the Caribbean sailing community, and is committed to giving back © Laurens Morel

In the Diam 24 fleet, BVI sailor Ted Reshetiloff came back for redemption on Buzz Race Team - The Mule. Competing in the Caribbean Multihull Challenge earlier this month, Ted’s team was nailed by the “rule book” and suffered some DSQs after weigh-ins. However, in this event, they came back with determination, and earned second place after a 2-1-2 from a series of three windward-leeward courses. It looks like the battle for the top seat will be between Merlin and The Mule in the Diam24 class, but as it is only Day 1, it is still anyone’s Regatta!

In CSA 2, returning this year as a skipper of a new-to-him boat with a not-so-new crew is Jules Mitchell, who again led his team to victory today. An Antiguan Star Sailor, Jules was asked what was his secret, and he said, “sailing with a crew who has sailed together for over 7 years.” The young crew represented the Caribbean in the international Star Sailors League and advanced far in the competition, proving the Caribbean certainly breeds star sailors.

The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta celebrates key values, one each day, today being sustainability. The Regatta attracts sailors from around the world with shared values, and one such team decided to stay. Guy Chester of Oceans Tribute originally made his journey to the Caribbean last year all the way solo from Australia, and he decided to stay in the region for another year to compete with and contribute to the community. Guy is the Director of EcoSustainAbility, providing environmental and sustainable tourism/ecotourism consulting worldwide, and is a leading advocate of the Economic Impact Study of Sint Maarten’s Yachting & Maritime Survey. Sailors are strongly encouraged to contribute to the research by completing the survey here.

At the Opening Regatta Press Conference held at Melange Restaurant in Port de Plaisance, top stakeholders and partners from the massive event, such as Heineken and tourism bureaus from both sides of the island, gathered to officially kick off the 44th edition to the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.

“Heineken Regatta is part of St. Maarten, St. Maarten is the Heineken Regatta. It’s not only you, the visitors, the sailors that come and the family and friends that you bring, it’s the community that’s involved. This is a village thing. It’s a community where we all get involved and when it comes to this weekend, starting today, it is part of all of us,” shared May-Ling Chun, Director of Tourism for St. Maarten, at the Opening Regatta Press Conference.

Following the Press Conference, the volume got turned up in the Regatta Village at Port de Plaisance to kick off the first night of musical entertainment. Tonight organizers bring back a St. Maarten Heineken Regatta tradition – a DJ Battle!! Local DJs spun their best tracks to keep the crowd energy level high!

The Regatta Village will continue to deliver on the good vibes through the weekend, with plenty of entertainment, food, and premium beverages such as Tito’s Vodka, Veuve Clicquot and Heineken, to complement the party happening nightly from prize giving at 6 PM until…

The crowds will head to Soggy Dollar on Friday, Elev8 and Moonbar on Saturday to keep the party going until the early AM. Certainly how late you stay partying can be a Regatta tactic all together, but no matter what your preference or bedtime, there are plenty of opportunities to have “Serious Fun!” Join in on all of the excitement with live reporting through the weekend on official Regatta media accounts: @stmaartenheinekenregatta on Facebook and Instagram.

The Daily Herald

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