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Multihulls Steal the Show at the 43rd St. Maarten Heineken Regatta

by St. Maarten Heineken Regatta 24 Mar 2023 23:53 GMT 2-5 March 2023

Whether you have one, two or three hulls, there is plenty of opportunity to shine at the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. While the Volvo fleet racing so close to shore always captures big attention, it was the Multihulls that really turned heads at the 43rd St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, hosted March 2-5, 2023.

New to the Caribbean racing scene, LODIGROUP’s ORC50 proved that the Volvos are not the only boats who can rule the ocean racing scene and also perform at a top international Regatta. Fresh off an incredible solo Transatlantic win, Skipper Loic Escoffier, winner of Route du Rhum Open Multihull class, showed off his and the boat’s versatility in racing performance at his first St. Maarten Heineken Regatta event.

Repeat St. Maarten Heineken Regatta race team 2 2 Tango, who normally takes top position in Multihull 1 at the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, got a run for their money as LODIGROUP took first in the favorite Around the Island Race. The friendly competition and “Serious Fun!” that the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is best known for was present on the prize giving stage as teams genuinely congratulated their fellow competitors. 2 2 Tango owner Anthony McVeigh took the mic to say that LODIGROUP was their “best competition yet!”

Multihull classes 1-3 were racing throughout the Regatta from Committee Boat B with starts off of Simpson Bay, while the Monohull race boats and the Diam 24s raced from Committee Boat A in Cole Bay. LODIGROUP won the award for “Fastest Multihull Around the Island” from Course B, and recognizing that the Diams indeed sailed a longer course around the Island, an additional trophy for “Fastest Multihull Around the Island” from Course A has been awarded to CryBaby for their incredible race.

The pocket-rocket fleet of Diam 24 trimarans proved that their debut performances at last year’s Regatta was no fluke. While the Diam 24s are typically sent on windward-leeward courses and treated much like sports boats by race committee in course selections, it is the legendary Around the Island Race where these unique multihulls show that they are truly in a class of their own.

Theoretically, a regular 24-foot boat should take much longer than a 70-foot ocean racer to circumnavigate the island, but the Diam 24s are no regular boat. Both Diam 24 fleet leaders Crybaby and Karibuni finished alongside the Volvo fleet, with both boats beating Volvo 70 HYPR in elapsed time, and CryBaby finished just 20 minutes behind fleet leader I LOVE POLAND.

Crew member Morgen Watson competed onboard Volvo 70 Il Mostro in last year’s St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, and this year he jumped ship to Diam 24 Karibuni. The ocean racer reflects on his big move, “I saw these trimarans keeping up with the Volvos around the island and they looked like a blast! I knew it would be fun trying something completely different, but the thrill was even bigger actually racing these machines around the island. The speeds are incredible and you certainly feel the intensity getting pelted by waves and the rush of keeping the boat on a plane… I’m definitely hooked.”

The Diam 24 fleet is growing in popularity on the island, under the leadership of CryBaby’s owner Pierre Altier, whose vision is being realized as the fleet grew from 4 to 6 boats this year. The impact of this fleet on the island reaches beyond the sailing community, to youth development and diplomacy between the French and Dutch sides of the island.

“The Diam teams come from both the French and Dutch sides of the island, demonstrating unity on the water. The fleet also showcases social sustainability as youth have become involved. The boats are very easy to handle, they are fast with big margins that are easy to attain,” said Pierre Altier.

This year, new youth-focused Diam 24 team AS MDA, on behalf of local L'Association Sportive du collège Mont des Accords in St. Martin, had two new youth sailors join every day for the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. Student Merlin Guerrier caught the Diam bug, saying, “I love the speed and the feeling of being out on the water!”

The Sint Maarten Yacht Club junior sailing programme was also represented in the Diam fleet, with laser sailor and assistant instructor Alex Speetjens, 17 years old, racing with Karibuni. The competition was fierce across the fleet, Alex shared, “On the last day the wind was super light so it was a pretty slow race down to Anguilla and back up, but we were having a super close fight with Merlin for third place as they were only 2 points behind us, but we just managed to beat them.”

St. Maarten appears to be the home island for multihull racing, hosting two major annual Regattas that attract big multihull fleets. Two very different multihull machines, Diam 24 CryBaby and Leopard 50 La Novia were tied for points for the award of combined Multihull Winner of Caribbean Multihull Challenge and the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. The trophy ultimately went to La Novia for lowest average points. However, CryBaby was the clear winner of Best Multihull Overall at the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, earning straight bullets across seven races, except for one third, where the win in that race went to the team aptly named “Anomaly.”

The Multihull classes had great diversity in size, crew, and hailing ports across the fleet. The Multihull 1 class was an international affair, with France, UK, Australia, Puerto Rico and St. Maarten represented. Trimaran Oceans Tribute had the longest journey to get to the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, with many solo ocean miles logged by Skipper Guy Chester between Australia and the Caribbean. Both solo skippers Loic Escoffier and Guy Chester proved they can also sail well with others, with their teams taking first and third in class, respectively.

Multihull 2 was led by the Dominican Republic team, La Novia, whose team has a strong admiration for women of the sea. In addition to the mermaid that adorns their bow, La Novia was led to victory by a female navigator at the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. Resurrected local trimaran Tryst was the only competitor able to outperform La Novia, capturing a win in race 2 and securing second place in class overall.

Multihull 3 was a family affair, with modern multihull Lagoon cruisers filled with Dutch sailors making up most of the fleet. Team Baywatch onboard Lagoon 38 took first place the first day and on the Around the Island Race; however, it was Selika, an Ocean Explorer 72 from the UK, who ultimately took first overall in the class. The proliferation of the Lagoon catamaran in the Caribbean has seen this cruiser-turned-racer grow into its own class at the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, with plenty of opportunity to expand.

After racing, the number of hulls failed to matter as all sailors gathered in Port de Plaisance Regatta Village to belly up to the sustainably-built bar to cheers a cold Heineken, Titos cocktail or glass of Veuve Clicquot champagne and celebrate another fantastic day of racing in paradise. The “Serious Fun!” spanned from onboard to onshore throughout the 4-day event, as there were entertainment options for sailors and fans around the island – from the “Serious Fun!” Bridge Show to nightly live performances at the Regatta Village, Greenzone after-parties at the island’s top venues, and of course the grand finale concert headlined by Grammy award-winning reggae talent Koffee.

One thing is for sure, multihulls stealing the show at the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is no anomaly. The fleets continue to grow with support of the Caribbean Multihull Challenge hosted earlier in the season, also by the Sint Maarten Yacht Club. Whether you are a multihull cruiser filled with family and friends, or an avid racer looking to charter a Diam 24 to try a new thrill, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is the place for sailors and boats of all forms! Mark your calendars for the 44th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta – FEB 29 - MAR 3, 2024.

For complete information on the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, including results, photos, videos, party and band information, and much, much more, visit: heinekenregatta.com

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