Preparing for the St Maarten Heineken Regatta
With less than three weeks to go before the starting gun fires on 1 March to begin the 32nd annual edition of the St Maarten Heineken Regatta, the entry list continues to grow, promising yet another stellar fleet entered. As always, the entry list is comprised of the latest Grand Prix racers, timeless classics, souped-up cruising boats, and bareboat charter yachts.
Many of the 141 current entrants are familiar St Maarten Heineken Regatta veterans, who are drawn to the mix of great competition and sensational parties year after year. Among these sailors are Hank Schmitt on the Swan 48 Avocation; Richard Wesslund on the J/120 El Ocaso; Bernie Evan-Wong on the Mumm 36 High Tension; Christopher Marshall on the Melges 24 Budget Marine/Gill; Ian Hope-Ross on the Beneteau First 36.7 Kick ‘em Jenny; Sergio Sagramoso on the J/122 Lazy Dog; and Christian Reynolds on the Swan 51 Northern Child.
Among the 66 boats entered in the CSA Monohull divisions, the queen of the fleet is the largest entry to date, the Swan 100 Virago. But the powerful sloop has plenty of company in the big-boat category, including a pair of 90-footers, Kip Curren’s Frers-designed Nefertiti and the French-flagged Med Spirit. Michael Reardon’s custom 75ft Tripp design Blackbird will surely turn some heads. And legendary naval architect Bruce Farr is represented by a pair of Grand Prix entrees, the Volvo Open 70 Gran Jotiti and the OnDeck 65 Spirit of Juno.
As in every running of the St Maarten Heineken Regatta, many of the competitors sail solid racer/cruisers from the world’s best production boat-builders. As always, there are numerous Beneteaus in the field, including four First 40.7s: Patrick Holloran’s Caipirinha, Vito Marrero’s Coyote, Jaime Torres’s Smile and Wave, and Ondeck’s Team Boston. X-Yachts has an impressive presence for the event, with a quartet of boats ranging from the 34ft Maelia to the 65 Karuba V. There are also yachts from Hunter (Harmony), Santa Cruz (Sonic of Ayr) and Dufour (Speedy Nemo), among many others.
The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta isn’t just for monohulls, as the ten competitors who’ve entered the multihull class thus far will attest. Katherine Mullins’ slick Gunboat 66 Coco de Mer looks like the boat to beat, but she’ll have to be quicker than Peter Aschenbrenner’s Irens 63 Paradox to take top honors. Other contenders include the Catana 65 Selika and the du Toit 51 Eagletours/Quality Time.
Last but hardly least are the 63 boats that have signed up to race in the Bareboat classes. Many of these skippers charter directly from companies like The Moorings and Sunsail. Others book through tour agencies like TUI Netherlands. “It’s our first year at the St Maarten Heineken Regatta,” said account manager Roelof Hoogstrate. “We are proud to be there with almost 20 boats and 150 sailors!”
Whether you plan to charter a boat or sail your own, the clock is ticking and the 2012 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta will soon be underway. The time to punch your ticket to the action is…now.