Gill Commodores Cup Opens the Heineken Regatta

Bill Alcott's Equation scored two bullets
Bill Alcott's Equation scored two bullets

Gill Commodores Cup is a Breezy opening to 32nd St. Maarten Heineken Regatta

There are many adjectives one might employ to describe the sailing conditions in Simpson Bay, off the south coast of St. Maarten, for the running of the Gill Commodores Cup, the kick-off to the 32nd annual St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. “Sporty, sunny, and breezy” would all apply.

In easterly winds of 18-22 knots and seas of three to five feet, 25 boats in four classes set sail in the two-race series scored separately from the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta for the flat-out racing crews, many of whom use the regatta as a practice day before the start of the three-day main event.

“It couldn’t have been a better day,” said David Pritchard, president of Gill North America, the event’s official supplier of technical racing and sailing gear and sponsors the Gill Commodores Cup. “The race management was excellent; the racing went off right on the money. And it’s such a unique event, with such an international group of sailors. From our perspective as a sponsor, it couldn’t be friendlier.”

The Gill Commodores Cup showcased several of the top match-ups in the fleet. In Class 1, Bill Alcott’s 65ft Equation and Marco Iglesius’s Volvo 70, Gran Jotiti, squared of like a pair of prize fighters in the regatta’s figurative Heavyweight Division. At the end of the bout, however, the clear winner was Equation, with a pair of bullets. Gran Jotiti earned second, and John Wilson’s powerful 78ft sloop, Idea, was third.

The powerful Class 2 division, loaded with half a dozen strong teams, saw some of the closest racing. And while many of the yachts were capable of podium finishes, the glory went to Puerto Rico’s Jamie Torres and Smile and Wave, with a third and a first, followed by Lazy Dog and El Ocaso.

With the exception of one Sun Odyssey 52.2, the seven-boat Class 3 fleet was comprised of a half dozen Beneteaus. When the final scores were tallied, the winner, with a first and a third, was Sean McGinn’s Beneateau First 40.7, Team Red, White & Blue, followed by Paul Johnson’s First Class 10, Bruggadung 2, and Patrick Holloran’s First 40.7, Caipirinha.

Class 4 was another strong fleet, with Frederic Dutheil’s JPK 960, Eliott, and Andrea Scarabelli’s Melges 24, Budget Marine/Gill, atop the leader board with identical records of a first and a second, but the tie-breaker gave the win to Eliott. Another Melges 24, Coors Light, sailed by Frits Bus and Peter Houtzager, was third.

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