St. Maarten Heineken Regatta
With over 90 teams representing more than 25 nations from as far afield as Australia, Norway and Sweden, Canada, Poland and Greece, competitors and their yachts are starting to congregate now in the crystal clear waters around St.Maarten. The 43rd edition of this not-to-be-missed regatta takes place from March 2-5, 2023.
For some, traveling to St.Maarten simply means hopping onto a flight, relaxing for a few hours, then enjoying the spectacular low altitude landing over Princess Juliana International airport. Renowned amongst plane spotters worldwide, planes approach low over Maho Beach, where the regatta racing can be spotted from ashore, skimming the beach and coming to an abrupt halt at the end of the famously-short runway.
But for others, getting to the regatta poses a completely different experience. For Kate Cope and Claire Dresser on their Sun Fast 3200RC Purple Mist, transiting to St.Maarten follows their debut as the first all-female double-handed competitors in the RORC Transatlantic Race. Having arrived safely in Grenada, the pair recently sailed to Antigua for the Nelson Cup Series, the Caribbean 600 and then will sail onto St. Maarten for the Heineken Regatta, where they extend their all women team to invite some special women on board.
“I’m super proud that my daughter Emily is joining us,” says Claire. “She’s an up and coming sailor and has started to do a bit of single-handed sailing and is joining us [at the St Maarten Heineken Regatta] with another friend Susie Anthony.” This is the team’s first Caribbean racing campaign, and they look forward to the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta with family and friends. “We are new to it and we’ve heard that it’s ‘the regatta’ to do,” says Claire.
Another yacht which has made an epic journey to get to St. Maarten is J133 Bella J. From her home port of Newfoundland, crew member Sarah Nicholson says they have sailed nearly 3,000 nm, departing from Halifax in Canada last November. Sarah says, “We are really looking forward to racing in St Maarten and enjoying all of the other festivities. We made five stops along the way [and] it was a fantastic delivery.”
Newcomers to the island and to the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, Sarah explains that some crew will be flying in direct from Canada in time for the regatta whilst others will arrive from Antigua having competed in the RORC 600 first. “Bella’s primary focus has been offshore events for the last few years so we are excited to practice our inshore skills, have fun and meet other sailors from around the world!” she says.
With a mixture of Australians, Americans and British on board his Crowther design trimaran Oceans Tribute, skipper Guy Chester explains this is the first time that his own yacht will be taking part in the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. Originating from Tinaroo Sailing Club in Queensland Australia, he says, “We’re a mixed crew of friends who have either sailed together before, or raced against each other. I’ve sailed in the Heineken four times already, but this is the first time on my own yacht. It’s a serious regatta and a bit of fun, and we’re mostly looking forward to the racing.”
The combination of great racing and excellent evening entertainment is a key attraction for the crew of GFA Caraïbes, a 25-ft race boat from Martinique. Having missed out on the top prize last year by just two seconds, this year skipper Tristan Marmousez says they hope to also win the 2023 CSA Caribbean Traveler Trophy. “We are all from Martinique and some of us have been sailing together for ten years, “ says Tristan. “We have a nice cohesion and come for the racing, and [seeing] Koffee.”
One yacht which has its focus on the fun of the Sunday Bridge Show, sponsored by Remax and Yacht Shop, is the all-Belgian crew on board Here Among The Cats. Brought together as business associates, co-skipper Jan Weckx from Royal Belgium Yacht Club says they are “fanatic bridge opening event participants” and always make a special effort to wow the judges. Port St. Maarten loves the enthusiasm teams like Jan’s bring to the island and the Regatta, and are happy to waive all bridge fees for competitors during the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.
There is plenty of ‘Serious Fun!’ to be had both on and off the water. From March 2-5, the Regatta Village Port de Plaisance will host a collection of local flavors and talent, with free entry for all Thursday-Saturday starting at 3 PM. Sailors and regatta fans will gather around the sustainably-built bar, and enjoy their apres-sail libations of choice – whether it be a cold Heineken, glass of Veuve Clicquot, a Titos Vodka cocktail or a refreshing bottle of Fiji water. Check out local vendors and pop up shops from Oris watches, Island 92, plus Shipwreck Shops and Sint Maarten Yacht Club to get your Regatta gear and CSA Racing Circuit shirts supported by Seahawk Paints. Enjoy seamless Regatta Village amenities with convenient tap payment systems provided by Windward Island Bank and free WiFi supplied by FLOW.
Following daily prize giving at 6 PM, local artists rock the Regatta Village stage through the evening until it’s time for the after-party! A selection of top venues from across the island will host the “Green Zone ” parties – from a day party to watch the race at the literal top-of-the-island venue Elev8 to Lotus Nightclub, Soggy Dollar Bar and Moonbar by night. On Sunday night, Grammy award winning artist Koffee graces the big stage at the Regatta Village, and toasts the finale of the 43rd St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.
For more information and to buy tickets, visit heinekenregatta.com/schedule/ or purchase locally at Divico, Vandorp, Levi’s Marigot & Adolphus Richardson.