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44th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta celebrates generations of sailing

by St. Maarten Heineken Regatta 27 Jan 15:17 GMT February 29 - March 3, 2024
Sint Maarten Yacht Club presents the Next Generation teams to compete in the 2024 St. Maarten Regatta © Digital Island

This February 29 - March 3, 2024, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta celebrates 44 years of "Serious Fun!" through multiple generations of sailing. As the flagship annual event for the island's original yacht club, the Sint Maarten Yacht Club and the Regatta continue to support generations of sailing on the island through junior sailing programs and sustainable community initiatives.

Earlier this month, the Sint Maarten Yacht Club hosted a successful Next Generation practice day and team presentation in preparation for the upcoming 44th St. Maarten Regatta. In 2023, the St. Maarten Regatta hosted the first official "Next Generation" racing class as part of the international regatta, providing young local sailors the opportunity to participate in their island's top racing event.

A total of 24 sailors from the yacht club race team, primary school program, and afterschool program were selected to participate in the 2024 Next Generation Race. Under the guidance of Racing Coach Sam Peeks, 12 teams of 2 were chosen to represent their skills and talent during the St. Maarten Regatta. The selection process aimed to highlight the prowess of the participants in facing the challenges posed by the race, while providing an equal and fair opportunity for all level sailors across the fleet.

"The races provide a real-world testing ground, pushing participants' skills and seamanship to the limit," remarked Sam Peeks, the Racing Coach overseeing the event. Throughout the practice day, participants engaged in four challenging practice races within the lagoon, navigating through gusty winds and shifting breeze. The proud youth teams returned to the Club for their official team presentations, where the junior sailors got to eye up the competition they will be facing at the 2024 St. Maarten Regatta Next Generation Race!

"Our parents have sailed the Regatta for many years, and now it's our turn to race!" said junior sailors Charlotte and Ayla. Last year, top youth female sailing talent Emma Lennox skippered in the Next Generation Race, and this year races with her friend Veronica on the boat "Pink Panther." Emma also comes from a family of sailors, with brother James and parents all active racers on the island. At this year's Regatta, proceeds from the Water Taxi service will go towards supporting the next generation of sailors in the Sint Maarten Yacht Club's junior and community sailing programs. Donations can also be made online.

The St. Maarten Regatta is committed to the next generation of ocean lovers, both on and off the water. The Annual Regatta Art competition brings together students from local schools with a "Serious Fun!" competition to showcase young artistic talent and ocean advocacy on the island. This year's competition celebrated the theme of "Sint Maarten: Sailing Through Nature & Culture" and the creative works were awarded at an art show and prize-giving at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club on January 13, 2024.

To further protect and ensure many more generations are able to enjoy the St. Maarten Regatta, sustainability has become one of the event's core values. Another annual initiative returns on February 10, 2024: the Kim Sha Beach Clean Up. This event brings together the local community, kids, families, and sailors alike to give back to the beach that has given so much to the St. Maarten Regatta. All are welcome to attend!

Sailors of yesteryear will remember Kim Sha Beach as the former legendary waterside location of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. As the event has outgrown the location, and relocated to the equally beautiful Yacht Club Port de Plaisance, Kim Sha Beach is still near and dear to regatta-goers. Many still flock to the location to enjoy the local lolos - the best BBQ on the island - and fan-favorite beach bars and clubs.

During the Regatta, yacht-spotters can enjoy beachside drinks and eats at "Regatta Ready" venues around Kim Sha, Simpson Bay, and other locations around the island. Of course, the best place to spot the yachts is right at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club, for the daily bridge show at the iconic Simpson Bay Bridge. Whether it's your morning coffee for the outbound bridge at 8:30 AM, or starting happy hour early for the inbound at 3 PM - grab a drink and watch the race boats go by - with the Sunday evening show being the best for last!

The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is a bucket-list event for everyone. Thousands fly and sail in every year for the first weekend in March to experience the "Serious Fun!" that extends from day to night. The Regatta Village will be open to the public daily from Thursday, February 29 - Sunday, March 3, 2024, featuring hot local music talents, fresh culinary delights, and bottles of Heineken, Veuve Clicquot and Tito's Vodka on ice.

For decades, hundreds of volunteers from across the island to cruisers and vacationers alike, all come together to be part of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta magic. Many return year after year to be part of this bucket-list event, and can be found on race committees, water taxis, at prize-giving and throughout the Regatta village! Those interested in getting behind-the-scenes access and being part of the Regatta community can sign-up to join the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta volunteer team: www.heinekenregatta.com/volunteers.

Learn more: www.heinkenregatta.com and follow @stmaartenheinekenregatta on Instagram and Facebook.

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