The 36th edition of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta was a record affair. Eighty four yachts competed in the Gill Commodores Cup, the largest entry in its history and 193 boats participated in the three day Heineken Regatta.
This year organisers set four different courses, providing ideal racing for Maxis, multihulls, spinnaker classes, bareboats and beach cats. Well over 100 volunteers assisted the professional race officers during the regatta. Mother Nature smiled, providing a range of conditions to test the competitors. The competitive nature of the regatta was shown by the fact that nearly every class was decided on the very last race.
CSA 3 produced the closest racing with 13 yachts all equally matched under the CSA Rating System. Philippe Charret’s A40, Lipton and Richard Wesslund’s J/122 El Ocaso were tied at the top going into the last race. Lipton made a fantastic start but El Ocaso came back to win the final race, the class and the regatta’s prestigious ‘Most Worthy Performance’ award.
“We love coming to the regatta; great racing and a fantastic atmosphere ashore,” said Wesslund. “The regatta just keeps growing and improving, we wouldn’t miss it for anything. The St. Maarten Yacht Club is doing a fantastic job.”
In Maxi 1 Class, Peter Harrison’s British tp52, Sorcha dominated, executing textbook manoeuvres to reel off four straight bullets, including overall victory in the Round St. Maarten Race. Irvine Laidlaw’s British RP82, Highland Fling X1 was second, but took comfort from setting a new monohull course record for the Round St. Maarten Race of 2h 12m 32s.
“To be honest we came to the regatta to sharpen up for future events and it has been extremely worthwhile,” noted Campbell Field, navigator of Sorcha. “We have learnt so much about the boat in a short period of time. This year’s regatta has been well organised on the water and there is a lot of fun ashore.”
Of the 26 multihulls racing, Lloyd Thornburg’s American MOD70, Phaedo3 was untouchable. Hitting speeds of over 30 knots, Phaedo’s ballistic form secured the Multihull 1 Class with straight wins and an astonishing lap of St. Maarten in 1h 19m 59s.
“We were doing 30 to 35 knots and occasionally 37 knots; it was one of the best rides we have ever had on Phaedo3. It was really cool to start last and pass over 190 boats on the way around,” Thornburg said.
Mitch Sylvano & Michaux Corroy’s striking Carib Cat won Multihull 2 by a single point from Sergei Kischilov’s Selika. In Multihull 3 Andrey Arbuzov’s Karla scored straight wins to take the class.
Jason Carroll’s Elvis ruled the Gunboat class for the third year in a row, scoring three straight bullets. Elvis also won the Captain Morgan Award for Most Rum Worthy Boat, when one of the crew dived overboard to untangle a rope from a committee boat propeller. Greg Gigliotti’s Tribe and Angus Ball’s Coco de Mer finished second and third respectively.
The Volvo Class contained yachts that have competed in over two decades of the round the world race and included Team Brunel, which was second in the last edition. Crewed by several members of the round the world team, including regatta skipper Gerd Jan Poortman, Brunel had to settle for second place behind Przemysław Tarnacki’s Farr 60, Ambersail. Chris Stanmore-Major’s Whitbread 60, Challenger finished third.
Frits Bus’ Island Water World completed a highly polished performance to win the Melges 24 class from last year’s winner Andrea Scarabelli’s Gill Race Team.
“The new boat is wonderful; it has made a lot of difference as you can see. It has given us that little edge to concentrate on tactics and playing the wind,” Bus said. He added, “I would encourage young sailors to get into the Melges Class and I will make my other boat available to the St. Maarten Yacht Club for young sailors.”
In CSA 1, Mark Chapman’s Trinidadian Ker 11.3, Dingo scored four wins out of five to dominate the class. Sergio Sagramoso’s Melges 32 Lazy Dog finished second ahead of fellow Puerto Rican, Luis Jarbe’s Soca.
In CSA 2, Ross Applebey’s British Oyster 48, Scarlet Oyster was holed in the Gill Commodores Cup but came back the next day to win class in the Round St. Maarten Race. The helter-skelter regatta continued for Scarlet Oyster with Renato Jose Da Cunha Faria’s Brazilian Dufour 500, Ventaneiro 3 winning both races on the penultimate day. However, Scarlet Oyster came back to win the last race of the series and the class by a single point.
Applebey said it was fantastic to win. “We had a shaky start when we nearly sunk on the first day but the Coastguard backed us up quickly and the boat builders worked through the night to get us back and we came out pretty fired up. Winning is the icing on the cake, for a charter boat team that really gelled together – unbelievable.”
In CSA 4, Ben Jelic’s St. Maarten custom Kiwi 35, Wild Devil, nailed the final start to win the closest encounter of the regatta. After time correction on the final race, Wild Devil was declared winner. Overnight leaders; Jonathan Lipuscek’s Dark Star and Jordan Mindich’s Solstice finished third and sixth in the last race, which meant that Wild Devil was the class winner on countback, effectively winning by a single second.
In the Beach Cat class, Turenne Laplace’s Alizés won the final race to win the class from David Guiheneuc’s Carib Cleaning with Pierre Altier’s PYC third. Bernard Sillem won the Round St. Maarten Race in time of 2h 21m 16s, an astonishing time considering that Sillem broke his foot half an hour before the finish!
Aleksei Dushkin’s Kiev Team Racing won the last race of the regatta to win the 60 strong Bareboat Class overall for the team from Ukraine.
For full information and complete results, visit: heinekenregatta.com
Report by Louay Habib with additional reporting by Gary Brown.