Sailing boats

Ready, Set, Sail


Where world-class regattas meet inclusive programs, St. Maarten/St. Martin is every sailor’s dream destination.


By Dolein van de Loo




Nestled in the heart of the Caribbean, the beautiful island of St. Maarten/St. Martin has long been celebrated as a premier destination for sailors from across the globe. With its azure waters, consistent trade winds, and vibrant maritime culture, it’s no surprise that St. Maarten/St. Martin has earned its reputation as a sailing paradise. Whether you’re a beginner looking to learn the art of sailing or an experienced sailor seeking to refine your skills, this island offers remarkable opportunities. Through the Sint Maarten Yacht Club (SMYC), you can easily arrange sailing lessons in dinghies, which are smaller sailboats. Alternatively, if your goal is to focus on larger keelboats and attain internationally recognized certification, the Maritime School of the West Indies provides a wide range of appealing options to suit your needs.


Beyond its natural beauty and sailing allure, the island hosts world-class events like the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta each year. This event transforms the island into a haven for sailors and sailing enthusiasts. The 44th edition, scheduled to be celebrated from February 29 through March 3, 2024, promises another unforgettable experience. Combining world-class racing with unforgettable onshore entertainment, this event is aptly dubbed “serious fun parties.”


While seasoned sailors race their own boats, many choose to charter vessels, eliminating logistical challenges and enabling everyone to partake in the excitement. For non-sailors, the Regatta offers a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the vibrant energy that envelops the island. Spectating boats provide front-row seats to watch over 100 boats racing around the island, a spectacle that must be seen to be believed. For music lovers, the Regatta Village at Port de Plaisance is the place to be. Here, sailors, visitors, party lovers, and islanders come together for ice-cold Heinekens, delicious food, and live musical performances. The event’s sheer magnitude and diversity of experiences make it a must-visit for anyone looking to revel in the magic of St. Maarten/St. Martin.


To get kids involved in sailing, the SMYC offers free sailing classes during school hours to primary schools with the support of local businesses, private sponsors, and subsidies. This initiative provides 48 students with the opportunity to learn sailing every week, introducing them to sailing while imparting essential life skills. The SMYC aims to create more opportunities for young people to experience the happiness and advantages of sailing and welcomes them into the marine industry.


In August 2023, the SMYC launched a groundbreaking Sailability Program, supported by the World Trust Fund and R4CR. Using a specially designed boat, the RS Venture Connect, the program aims to make sailing accessible to individuals of all abilities. The SMYC is collaborating with the White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation to select students with disabilities for their day-activity program. This initiative underscores St. Maarten’s commitment to inclusivity, recognizing that sports hold immense value not only as daytime activities but also as builders of self-
confidence and focus.


The SMYC is open to visitors who wish to come and watch sailing lessons from the club’s various programs and witness the spectacular bridge openings.






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