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29th St. Maarten Heineken Pledge SERIOUS FUN This Month

In January, the St Maarten Yacht Club announced a change to the event schedule for the 2009 edition of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.  According to a press release, upon a review of the financial costs for the regatta organization and in consideration of the world wide recession, projections strongly predicted a loss for the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta Organization.

In order to avoid any threat to the long-term continuity of the event, the organizers decided to consolidate more of the sailing control centers and regatta parties on the Simpson Bay Beach. While the party on the Marigot waterfront will remain, the normal party on the Great Bay Promenade will be moved to Simpson Bay for the 2009 edition. Race courses will remain the same.

The Sint Maarten Heineken Regatta is operated by the nonprofit organization, the Sint Maarten Yacht Club, and as a nonprofit organization they cannot project nor absorb losses. “The high chance of a reduction in the number of participating boats and entry fees, as well as heavy expenses already made in the purchasing of promotional media, all in connection with the enormous recession that is taking place worldwide and here on our Island of St. Maarten, makes it essential that the club reduce its expenses,” a press release noted. Although they anticipate a healthy event, the club has already observed a drop in the number of smaller vessels visiting the island this season, as a result of the recession and the increased costs on the island.

Heather Tackling, the Director of the St Maarten Heineken Regatta adds, “This move is necessary in light of the many uncertainties we face, and hope everyone understands that this move, although perhaps temporary, can help protect the long-term health of our island’s Regatta.”

On a brighter note, as the countdown to the 2009 edition of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta began, organizers have added plenty of new wrinkles this year to the event known for its “Serious Fun.”

The new Budget Marine Match Racing series will commence on March 3rd, and a new sponsor, Island Global Yachting, will host the IGY Commodores Cup for the flat-out racing fleet on March 5th. The traditional three-day St. Maarten Heineken Regatta will then take place from March 6-8.

Filmmaker Anton van de Koppel of Quest Media (www.questmedia.nl), who produces the critically acclaimed video footage of the event, foresees more opportunities to capture sailing action on the Internet and TV with his 10-person crew.

“The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is very special to me and my company,” he said. “It’s one of the oldest venues we do, along with the America’s Cup. It’s one of the world’s best-organized regattas, very condensed, three days of very serious fun. We’re really looking forward to it.”

As in the past, Quest’s video clips will be showcased on youtube.com, vimeo.com and the regatta’s website. Quest is planning expanded coverage with morning and evening pre-race and post-race productions, as well as distribution to the island’s bars and restaurants.

“A lot of people we met in the early years still come to the venue,” van de Koppel said. “It becomes this big group of friends that you meet everywhere in the world, because sailors who do the Heineken Regatta also compete in lots of other regattas. And everywhere we go, we talk about the next St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.

“It’s just this vast group of friends who cross paths in Antigua, Norway, South Africa, the U.S., Holland, everywhere,” he added. “When you meet someone in, say, Cowes, the first thing they ask is, ‘Are you going to St. Maarten for the Heineken Regatta?’”

For full information, entry lists, entry forms and event clips:  www.heinekenregatta.com.

Information submitted by St. Maarten Heineken Regatta

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