Big winds launch St. Maarten Heineken Regatta
Published on March 6th, 2015
Simpson Bay, St. Maarten (March 6, 2015) – The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta (March 6-8) got underway today with 188 yachts entered for the three day extravaganza separated into 18 different classes. The huge fleet was a magnificent sight and very likely to be the biggest gathering of racing yachts in the Caribbean this season.
Sailors from all over the world come to the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta for competitive racing, and today they were not disappointed. Strong trade winds, gusting up to 25 knots, with brilliant sunshine served up spectacular conditions. Close to 2000 sailors enjoyed a long first day of amazing racing at the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. The vast majority of the fleet sailed a 30 mile course around St. Maarten and as an appealing change, the fleet raced anti-clockwise, starting upwind from Simpson Bay.
Lloyd Thornburg’s ballistic MOD 70 trimaran, Phaedo3 set a record for the new around St. Maarten anti-clockwise course, which included Tintamarre and Blowing Rock. Blasting around St. Maarten in 2 hours 7 minutes and 24 seconds, Phaedo3 averaged 20.7 knots on the 35-mile course, hitting an incredible top speed of 36 knots. At Tintamarre Phaedo3 was smashing through the waves, leaping like a marlin – an incredible sight!
“For sure we can go quicker, fast is fun!” commented Phaedo3 navigator, Miles Seddon, taking a break from his role as performance analyst for Team SCA in the Volvo Ocean Race. “There were a lot of yachts coming to take a look at ‘the beast’ at the start and there was a lot of traffic to get through, especially in Simpson Bay, with the bareboat fleet all around us. Once we had come around to the windward side of St. Maarten, we were on our own, pounding into the big sea state at 20 knots. It was a big bare away at Tintamarre, we touched 30 knots and trimmer Pete Cumming, was down to leeward easing the head sail, literally underwater getting fire-hosed. Pete was in full wet weather gear but we joked that he really needed a snorkel!”
“We blew out a clew fitting after the big gybe but slick crew work had us back in the groove and the reach across to Basse Terre produced our top boat speed of 36 knots. It sounds crazy but at 30 knots of boat speed, things are calm on board, but at 36 knots, the noises coming from the boat become a little more alarming, the winches, the sails and the rig are literally screaming under the loads.”
The Gunboat posse composing five hi-tech catamarans, capable of speeds exceeding 20 knots, were an extraordinary sight. At the start, Gunboat 66 Coco de Mer, skippered by Angus Ball, won the pin end in some style and ventured far into Simpson Bay to get a massive lift off the hills beyond, to take the lead. After over three hours of racing, Gunboat 62 Tribe, skippered by Spike Abram with A-Cat World Champion Mischa Heemskerk on board, took line honours in an elapsed time of 3 hours 9 minutes 11 seconds. However after time correction, Coco de Mer was declared the winner by just over 5 minutes from Tribe. Michael Sonnenfeldt’s Gunboat 66, Tiger Lilly was third.
In CSA 1, Volvo 70 Monster Project, skippered by Andy Budgen was the first monohull to finish the course. Scorching around in just under three hours to take both line honours and the win on corrected time in CSA 1. Doug Baker’s SoCal team racing Kernan 47, True was second with Bajan TP52, Conviction, skippered by Clint Brooks in third.
CSA 3 was won by Swan 65, Spirit owned by British skipper Alan Edwards but the smallest boat in the class IMX 45, Team Maline, skippered by Børre Søraas Sæther performed well to take fourth against some heavy weight opposition. Gijs van Liebergen’s Dutch King’s Legend and Alan Edwards British entry, Spirit literally dwarf Team Maline. The Scandinavian team are here for some fun and some serious racing.
“Team Maline crew is from Norway and Sweden.” commented Børre Søraas Sæther. “Most of our friends are at home skiing right now but we are very happy to enjoy the sunshine in St.Maarten. Today we are super happy because, we could have done with more kilos on the rail, especially upwind against the big Swans in our class. So we are delighted to have done so well, it was a long hard race but very satisfying and we are so looking forward to a hot shower and a few cold beers tonight before getting back into racing tomorrow.”
For 35 years, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta has showcased the top boats and sailing-and has become equally famous for its world-class slate of parties and musical entertainment-in the Caribbean. Now recognized by sailors around the planet as one of the sailing world’s best regattas, each year the event lives up to its worthy motto: Serious Fun.
Report by event media.