No party too far: St. Maarten Heineken Regatta 2023

Published on February 20th, 2023

Over 90 teams representing more than 25 nations are set for the 43rd edition of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta on March 2-5, 2023. Entrants from as far away as Australia, Norway and Sweden, Canada, Poland and Greece will compete on the crystal-clear waters around this Caribbean island shared by the French and Dutch.

For some, traveling to St.Maarten by airplane includes the spectacular landing for Princess Juliana International airport as planes approach low over Maho Beach, skimming the beach and coming to an abrupt halt at the end of the famously-short runway.

But for others, getting to the regatta poses a completely different experience.

For Kate Cope and Claire Dresser on their Sun Fast 3200RC Purple Mist, transiting to St. Maarten follows their debut as the first all-female double-handed competitors in the RORC Transatlantic Race. Having arrived safely in Grenada, the will compete in the Caribbean 600 and then will sail onto St. Maarten for the Heineken Regatta, where they extend their all women team to invite some special women on board.

“I’m super proud that my daughter Emily is joining us,” says Dresser. “She’s an up and coming sailor and has started to do a bit of single-handed sailing and bringing along another friend Susie Anthony.” This is the team’s first Caribbean racing campaign, and they look forward to the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta with family and friends. “We are new to it and we’ve heard that it’s ‘the regatta’ to do,” she said.

Another yacht which has made an epic journey to get to St. Maarten is J/133 Bella J. From her home port of Newfoundland, crew member Sarah Nicholson says they have sailed nearly 3,000 nm, departing from Halifax in Canada last November. “We are really looking forward to racing in St Maarten and enjoying all of the other festivities,” shared Nicholson. “We made five stops along the way [and] it was a fantastic delivery.”

Newcomers to the island and to the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, she explains that some crew will be flying in direct from Canada in time for the regatta whilst others will arrive from Antigua having competed in the RORC 600 first. “Bella’s primary focus has been offshore events for the last few years so we are excited to practice our inshore skills, have fun and meet other sailors from around the world!” she says.

With a mixture of Australians, Americans, and British on board his Crowther design trimaran Oceans Tribute, skipper Guy Chester reports this is the first time that his own yacht will be taking part in the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.

Originating from Tinaroo Sailing Club in Queensland Australia, he reports how they have a mixed crew of friends who have either sailed together before, or raced against each other. “I’ve sailed in the Heineken four times already, but this is the first time on my own yacht,” said Chester. “It’s a serious regatta and a bit of fun, and we’re mostly looking forward to the racing.”

The combination of great racing and evening entertainment is a key attraction for the crew of GFA Caraïbes, a 25-foot race boat from Martinique. Having missed out on the top prize last year by just two seconds, this year skipper Tristan Marmousez says they hope to also win the 2023 CSA Caribbean Traveler Trophy.

“We are all from Martinique and some of us have been sailing together for ten years, “ says Marmousez. “We have a nice cohesion and come for the racing, and [seeing] Koffee.”

One yacht which has its focus on the fun of the Sunday Bridge Show, sponsored by Remax and Yacht Shop, is the all-Belgian crew on board Here Among The Cats. Brought together as business associates, co-skipper Jan Weckx from Royal Belgium Yacht Club says they are “fanatic bridge opening event participants” and always make a special effort to wow the judges.

Port St. Maarten loves the enthusiasm teams like Weckx’s bring to the island and the Regatta, and are happy to waive all bridge fees for competitors during the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.

Following daily prize giving, local artists rock the Regatta Village stage through the evening until it’s time for the after-party! On the final night, Grammy award winning artist Koffee highlights the entertainment schedule.

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