preparations for the Heineken regatta in St Maarten

Over 110 Boats Registered and Officially St. Maarten Heineken Regatta Ready

February 28, 2024 – Simpson Bay – Over 110 boats have registered for the 44th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta from over 20 countries around the world – as far as South Africa and Australia! Teams gathered at the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta Village at Port de Plaisance for registration, where they were loaded with goodies and good energy for the 4-day weekend of “Serious Fun!” ahead.


Competing teams represent over 25 nationalities, many teams sailing with mixed international crew from all over the world. Among them is GFA Caraibes – La Morrigane, Overall Winners of the 2023 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, who are competing in the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta before the team goes on an international racing campaign. “It’s our last regatta in the Caribbean, because after that we will go to the Pacific – so we want to make a good last race here for the team,” said skipper Tristan Marmousez.


Newcomers to the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, Team Trident, have had the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta on their horizon for many months, and are thrilled that the time has finally come! “I’m super excited. We’ve been planning for 8 months with race prep and briefings, getting comfortable as a team and interviewing other skippers… I think we’re ready,” shared Captain Nico Treverno – Trident Sailing Team. Nico’s team is racing within the Bareboat class, meaning they flew in and stepped onboard a new boat to the team today, and will be racing it together for the first time! But the team is well prepared, as many are former and current students of Nico’s from his Trident Sailing Academy out of Texas, USA.


Registration is also the time for competitors to catch up and for some to meet event organizers for the first time, including members of the race committee and the jury. The international committee and jury have been expertly curated by Race Chair, Cary Byerley, who is active and well connected in the World Sailing community.


This year, Mark Townsend rejoins the committee, this time as PRO, but he is really a triple threat – umpire, judge and PRO – and one of only five people in the world who hold all three World Sailing credentials. His CV includes top events around the world, from inshore race management at the Melges 24 world championships to serving as a judge for the Rolex Fastnet Race, Mark brings a world of experience and perspectives to the Race Committee.


“We have a lot of different types of boats, so ultimately it is our job to design the right courses for the right boats. With two separate committee boats and race areas, this helps us pick a mix of windward-leeward for sportsboats and the reaching courses for the big boats,” shared Mark Townsend.


Race Director David Sprague, also brings in an international perspective, serving as past president of Sail Canada, former Director at World Sailing, and Deputy Race Officer at the Olympic Games. Complementing David’s leadership on the water will be Josje Hofland, who will be leading the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta Jury. Josje has served as a World Sailing International Judge since 1992. She was a Jury member in three America’s Cups, and four Olympic Games, so certainly sets the bar high for the jury room! Josje returns for her second St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, serving for the first time on the jury 25 years ago.


Race committee would also like to take the occasion on the eve of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta to remind competitors of a few rules that will ensure “Serious Fun!” for everyone on the race course. Proper protest protocol must be followed, and a helpful protocol graphic can be found on the Regatta’s social media accounts. “And never underestimate the value of the Sailing Instructions (SIs)!” said Race Committee Chair Cary Byerley.


In the SIs, sailors can find all critical information for race information, such as all race courses, description of marks, and obstruction areas around the island. Race committee has a selection of 20 marks, including natural marks such as Table Rock and Blowing Rock at their disposal around the island, which will allow flexibility and diversity in courses for various wind angles, strengths, and best courses for each class.


Sailors can locate all racing-related information on the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta website’s Race page, or on the official regatta management system: Yacht Scoring. Race Committee has also put together a series of FAQs, which can be found online or within the Notice Board on Yacht Scoring.


Tonight, to officially kick off the 44th edition of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, the St. Martin Tourism Bureau invited sailors to a welcome party at the Yacht Club Fort Louis. As a true island-wide event, the opening event hosted on the French side of the island showcases the support and camaraderie celebrated on both sides of the island. The friendly competition continues with plenty of french side – dutch side duels both in the Melges 24 and Diam 24 local fleets this Thursday through Sunday.


Sailors, families, friends and members of the public are all welcome to join the “Serious Fun!” both on and off the water this February 29 – March 3. The Regatta Village at Port de Plaisance is open to all starting at 3 PM daily this Thursday, with special concerts and ticketed events running Friday through Sunday. Spectators can capture all the action from the shoreside at select “Regatta Ready” venues around the island with perfect views of the race courses: Sint Maarten Yacht Club, Dinghy Beach Bar, K for Karakter, Holland House, Seaview Hotel and Bikini Beach. Tune into Regatta Radio on 91.9 FM on island or for live commentary and coverage of the Regatta, and join the daily prize giving ceremonies hosted at 6 PM at the Port de Plaisance Regatta Village each day.





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