HomeNEWSSmall Boats, Big Talent Return to the 43rd St. Maarten Heineken Regatta

Small Boats, Big Talent Return to the 43rd St. Maarten Heineken Regatta

The 43rd St. Maarten Heineken Regatta takes place from March 2-5 2023, with four adrenalin and fun-filled days of multi-class racing out of Simpson Bay. Hundreds of international sailors and their racing yachts have already ear-marked this bucket-list event in their diaries, eagerly anticipating the well-organized and varied racing that this regatta delivers.

A major attraction of the event is its variety. On the water there’s everything from Maxis with their highly-polished, high-performance professional crews, through to thrill-seeking catamarans, and close racing within the sportsboat classes, with skippers and crews ranging from Olympic sailors, world-class tacticians and navigators to newcomers. There’s the opportunity for anyone to come and have a go – whether a seasoned sailor, a first-timer on a crewed charter yacht or a group of friends hiring a bareboat. Even live-aboards and world travelers enjoy the Regatta’s “Serious Fun” by competing in the Island Time class races.

With over 35 countries participating, entries already received for 2023 will see some exciting battles in the highly contested small boat classes. The popular sportsboat divisions will see more than 25 yachts comprising up-and-coming along with legendary local talent from St. Maarten/Martin, Antigua, and Barbados, as well as from the USA and the UK.

Antiguan-based American Pamala Baldwin, who offers places on her J122 Liquid for young and rising talent to gain international racing experience, says the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is perfect for some of the most competitive racing in the Caribbean. She says, “St. Maarten Heineken Regatta offers everything in one package. There’s non-stop action on and off the water – pure adrenaline!”

Having swept the honors board last year by fulfilling her mission of winning the CSA 7 class in 2022, achieving “Best Overall Performance” and being awarded the trophy for representing women in sailing, there’s high expectations for Liquid in the hotly-contested class in the 2023 Regatta. The competition already includes Ross Applebey’s Scarlet Oyster 48, and Caribbean-based competitors Whistler, a J121 from Barbados.

While for many the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta will be their first experience of Caribbean racing, veteran Bernie Evan-Wong will ensure his crew onboard Taz benefit from his many years of experience competing in the event. “I can sincerely say that after competing in around 38 consecutive St. Maarten Heineken Regattas, this event has stood the test of time for consistency when it comes to superb organization, both on and off the water – it definitely lives up to its motto of “Serious Fun!”. The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is one of my favorite regattas on our annual regatta calendar, and this coming year is going to be truly epic!”

This year Taz will face competition in the sportboat class from a new addition to the fleet, Team Budget Marine’s Melges 24, skippered by Jolyon Ferron. With the Ferron name well known in racing circles – Jolyon’s father Robbie Ferron was the first Commodore of the Sint Maarten Yacht Club and founding member of what is now known as the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta – Jolyon and his racing partner Eddie Parish have embarked on an ambitious overhaul and refit project with this new Melges joining the existing St. Maarten fleet.

A strong supporter of one design fleet racing, he says, “When I was just a kid my father always had a Melges 24, so I got the chance to sail in our local Melges 24 fleet quite a lot. When the opportunity came across to bring in another Melges 24 to the island and help grow the fleet, myself and a friend jumped at it.” Thanking the support from their sponsor Budget Marine, essential for the success of the refurb work, Ferron says Melges make the perfect boat for places like St. Maarten. “The boats are great as they can be pulled out of the water on a trailer, making caring for them much easier.”

Ferron and his crew will be one to watch during the Regatta, as he hands down a challenge to the other entrants in the sportboat class; “Melges have a significant excitement factor being much faster than many bigger boats downwind.”

When the on-the-water action is over, the fun continues on shore with teams from all classes gathering for daily prize giving and apres-sail libations in the race village at Port de Plaisance. Teams docked at Yacht Club Port de Plaisance get front row seats to all of the action: nightly entertainment, hot food, cool bars and great company. Special rates on docking at Yacht Club Port de Plaisance are offered for registered boats on a first-come, first-serve, so be sure to register now for the 43rd St. Maarten Heineken Regatta on Yachtscoring.com.

Whether you can BYOB (bring your own boat) or are looking to charter your bucket-list boat, or want to crew or volunteer at the event, all options can be found at www.heinekenregatta.com

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