The youngest Yacht Club in the Caribbean, possibly the
world, threw open its doors on April 13 in a carnival of flashing press camera
bulbs, popping beer bottle caps and quality hors d’oeuvres. Captain Oliver’s
Yacht Club in Oyster Pond, St Maarten, was set up mainly in order to host May’s
Carib Beer Regatta, but the dynamic nautical cartel at the center of the club
is already planning ambitious further events.
behind the Yacht Club, which is on the Dutch side of the island, has been
staggering. The idea for a regatta was floated earlier this year following a
casual conversation between Captain Oliver and a local journalist. While “Let’s
hold a race/regatta” is heard often enough on the islands (particularly during
Happy Hour) only to be forgotten within days, this plan struck a chord locally,
especially among those who remember the Tuesday Night racing a few years ago.
Volunteers came forward to promote and organize the regatta, a yacht club was
officially registered, and in just 15 days a storage room right on the marina
was converted into a Clubhouse that oozes sophistication.
Commodore Hervé Harel sees the club as
somewhere local and regional sailors can come not only to relax, but also to
meet and discuss future projects. “We want to help those trying to get out and
compete, whether locally or in the big races,” he says. “It’s strange that
there are only two regattas a year on St Maarten. In places like Brittany or
the UK where you have lots of boats, you also have lots of nautical activity.”
The club will be providing patronage for
Route Du Rhum hopeful Ronan Guerin – offering logistical and technical support
out of Captain Oliver’s Marina. A sailing school is also planned aboard the 50′
sloop Gold Digger, currently edging its way through Panama. Once in St
Maarten, she will be docked at the Marina and will be available for teaching
Having worked in Oyster Pond for the last 9
years as one half of Charrin & Harel Yacht Brokers, Hervé decided to put
his brokerage contacts – spread across St Barth, Tortola, Guadeloupe and beyond
– to use locally. Likewise, the Yacht Club serves the tight-knit local
community, while also looking outwards to the many international sailors who
pull into Oyster Pond from neighbouring islands.
Captain Oliver’s Yacht Club already has 15
members. First to join was Christophe Decatoire, a St Martin resident, owner of
Underwater Works Dive Company and Captain of the fishing boat Sea Dream.
“The idea was to participate in the development of Oyster Pond,” says
Christophe. “It’s a quiet spot where the life is good. The Yacht Club will add
a ‘classy’ dimension to the nautical activities.” Along with others, Christophe
hopes to put together a Fishing Tournament out of the Yacht Club.
A year’s membership at the club costs $100
or 70 Euros, and it is open seven days a week from 3pm to 10pm. Facilities
include 2 ADSL internet stations, a bar, library, board games, crew
noticeboard, and a majestic $4,000 cinema projector where patrons can sink into
one of the plush armchairs and enjoy a movie.