Heineken heats up

Dick Johnson reports from the sunny island of St Maarten with the regatta start imminent

Thursday March 6th 2003, Author: Dick Johnson, Location: Caribbean
Resplendent in tee shirts of a particularly interesting shade of lime green, volunteer workers at the St Maarten Heineken regatta were hard at it throughout the day as regatta entries climbed towards the magic 200 figure, stopping just one boat short on 199. But it's another day tomorrow and that 200 is sure to be overtaken as soon as the St Maarten Yacht club's doors open again at 1100.

Caribbean Sailing Association measurers Gregory Loe and Tony Maidment processed scores of certificates as the intricacies of the CSA rule were played by the experienced. For instance, the rule allows you to measure in different headsails for each regatta. With a careful eye on the weather, the old hands were deciding between big sails and a higher rating or smaller sails and a beneficial reduction in rating.

As your reporter is sitting next to the dynamic measuring duo, he can report on a consensus that the wind for the regatta was likely to stay at the top end of the scale, making that blade jib a good choice. One visiting boat, an IMX 45 - which had made some major modifications by sawing off half the ballast bulb and re-siting it in the bilge, that's the IMS measuring system for you - opted to measure in a big jib. Oh that they had heard the measurers chuckles as they discussed the breezy conditions likely for the regatta!

Alongside registration and measuring, the usual regatta activities of tee shirt and cap sails were proceeding apace, with this year's choice being complicated by a choice between the usual baseball cap and one with a neck curtain to ward off the worst of the Caribbean Sun's rays. At closing time for the shop, sales were running about equal.

For 2003, the allocation of trophies for the Heineken regatta has been altered, leaving the main awards, the St Maarten Cup for "Most Worthy Performance", which goes to the boat that wins the most competitive class in the most convincing fashion, the Columbus Cup for the Bareboat Overall and the Spirit and style cup which is the Xerox cup. There will of course be individual trophies for the various divisions - all 17 of them - and this year there is a special new trophy for the fastest multihull round the
island, the Spronk Trophy.

Named for Peter, the well known multihull designer who lived on St Maarten for many years, the trophy is a wooden replica of his boat Maho which was recorded in the Guinness book of records for some of her fast open water passages around the Caribbean. The hull of the trophy was made by Papa Louis, Peter Spronk's boatbuilder, with wire-work sails made by local artist Zdenka Kiric.

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