Preparing for the Heineken Storm

Published on March 1st, 2017

The Sint Maarten Yacht Club is a hive of activity as competitors arrive for the 37th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. The racing action kicks off on March 2 with the Gill Commodore’s Cup, a one-day windward leeward racing event, allowing sailors to practice their racing without influencing the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, which runs March 3-5.

The 2017 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta will once again feature the largest collection of yachts racing at a Caribbean regatta since the 2016 edition. Competitors will race in no less than eight CSA Monohull Classes, five CSA Multihull Classes, three Bareboat Classes, Melges 24 and the Lottery Class.

The weather forecast for the 165 entrants could be described as ‘fresh to frightening’. With strong easterly trade winds anticipated, the powerful ocean yachts should revel in the conditions.

The Maxi and Ocean Racing Classes represent the largest and fastest ocean going yachts racing in CSA. Two Swan 100 are set to enjoy a titanic match race. Varsovie, skippered by Tomek Ulatowski and Muzuni, skippered by Miquel Huma, will be equally matched. In the Ocean Racing Class, five former round the world race boats will be fighting for class glory.

On CSA rating, Lionel Pean’s French Volvo 70 SFS II, is the fastest yacht. However, Volvo 70 Monster Project is a former Round St. Maarten record holder and now under new Australian ownership, skippered by Roman Guerra.

Przemyslaw Tarnacki’s Farr 60, Ambersail from Lithuania is the defending champion and Volvo 70 Green Dragon will be skippered by Poland’s Olympic gold medallist Mateusz Kusznierewicz. Chris Stanmore Major’s Canadian Whitbread 60 Challenger has been racing thousands of miles already this season and could well feature after time correction.

The forecast for big breeze and ocean swell should provide a perfect cocktail for the displacement yachts racing in CSA 1. Ross Applebey’s Oyster 48, Scarlet Oyster will be going for a hat trick, having won class for the previous two years. Jamie Walker’s American Swan 56 Azura is on paper the fastest yacht in CSA 1 and Jack Desmond’s American Swan 48 Affinity is a proven winner. Bruno Cardile’s Italian Soto 50 Fortunata will feature America’s Cup and multiple world champion Tommaso Chieffi, as tactician.

In CSA 2, fast planning yachts will enjoy a wild ride for the regatta. Bernie Evan-Wong’s RP37 Taz will be flying high after the Antiguan team won their class in last month’s RORC Caribbean 600. Sir Richard Matthews British Humphreys 42 Oystercatcher XX1 has a well set, top class crew, including Match Race World Champion Andy Green, and there is sure to be a fantastic Melges 32 dust-up between Sergio Sagramoso’s Puerto Rican Lazy Dog and St. Maarten’s Ian Hope-Ross racing Kick ’em Jenny 2.

CSA 3 contains seven well-matched yachts, with many teams highly experienced at the regatta. However, the standout match will be between the 2016 Most Worthy Performer, American J/122 El Ocaso, and St. Maarten’s Ben Jelic racing his J/120 J-aguar.

In CSA 4, Sir Bobby Velasquez racing L’Esperance and Sir Robbie Ferron’s J/39 Micron 99 Ossenfeffer, will resume their gentleman’s duel. The two skippers from St. Maarten have been racing each other since before the crew on Garth Steyn’s Kidz At Sea 1 were born.

CSA 5 looks to be a fantastic battle with well sailed boats right through the class. From St. Barths two J/109s will be equally matched; Dave Cullen’s Pocket Rocket and Sophie Olivaud’s all girls team on Albacor IV. Peter Lewis’ Bajan J/105 Whistler will undoubtedly be in the mix. Raymond Magras returns with his Dufour 34 Speedy Nemo, the team from St. Barth was runner up in class last year.

In CSA 6, the second yacht crewed by the Kidz at Sea Foundation, Moon dance, are all pupils from the Milton Peters College (MPC), Sundial School and Charlotte Brookson Academy.

In the Melges 24 Class, Fritz Bus will defend his class win last year on Island Water World, last year’s runner up, Andrea Scarabelli’s Gill Race Team will be looking to go one better.

The Offshore multihull class features three Gunboats; Stephen Cucchiaro’s Flow, Phil Lotz’s Arethusa and Fredrik Moe’s Momentum. Mixing it up will be two custom flyers, Robert Janecki’s HH66 R-Six and Greg Slyngstad Beiker 53, Fujin. In all, 27 multihulls have entered the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.

In the Bareboat Classes, winners returning from last year include last year’s overall winners, Mike Cannon and Neil Harvey’s KHS&S Contractors. Andrey Novikov’s Russian Federation team TREM-sailing, Luka Rodion’s Ukranian team Kiev Racing Yacht Club. In the Lottery Class, Hank Schmitt’s American Swan 48 Avocation, which has been participating for 12 years, will be looking to go one better than runner up last year.

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Background: The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is the largest warm water regatta in the world. This world-renowned sailing event offers a great combination of four days of challenging races and fantastic parties, living up to the event’s motto of “Serious Fun”! The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta will celebrate its 37th edition from March 2-5, 2017.

Source: Event Media

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