Thirty years ago it was possible to plan the Sint Maarten Heineken Regatta on the back of a beer mat. Today, to run a successful regatta requires a team of dedicated professionals working year round. In 2011, the Caribbean’s largest regatta is in the capable hands of three women.
For Race Director Heather Tackling, the 31st St. Maarten Heineken Regatta will be her fifth as the person in charge. The job of planning and organizing days of top quality racing and partying is a massive one. For the next event Tackling will share the load with Michèle Korteweg, the intern who worked for the regatta in 2009.
Tackling says she is delighted to have Korteweg back on the team. “Having somebody new who is full of enthusiasm and ready to go with new ideas is exciting and will benefit the regatta. I didn’t have an assistant last year so this year I’m looking forward to splitting our duties in half.”
“My role is different this time because I’m not the intern,” says Korteweg, who returned to the regatta after gaining a degree in International Leisure and Sports Management from the NHTV, University of Applied Sciences in Breda, Holland. “I have plenty of ideas, but I would like to see us making more use of social networking, getting us out there to the regatta fans, sailors and sponsors.”
As Korteweg moves up to become assistant director, Marleen Voets takes on Korteweg’s old job as intern. “In the beginning everything is new and I have to find my way,” says Voets. “I can learn a lot and I’m very curious about the actual regatta.”
Like it or not sailing is still a male dominated sport. Does having three women in firm control of the Caribbean’s largest regatta make a difference? “Certainly,” says Tackling. “Sailors are pleased to see women running the event. It’s different, it’s a different vibe.” For info go: heinekenregatta.com
Gary E. Brown is the Editorial Director of All At Sea. He hosts the radio show YachtBlast on Island 92, St. Maarten, and is the author of the thriller/sailing adventure Caribbean High. For more information visit: garyebrown.net