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St. Maarten Heineken Regatta Day 2

by St. Maarten Heineken Regatta 2 Mar 05:02 GMT February 29 - March 3, 2024
Bare boats and race boats meet up at Mullet Beach, after a downwind start in the Around the Island Race © Laurens Morel

Day two of the 44th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta took most of the fleet on a full circumnavigation of St. Maarten/St. Martin on the iconic Around the Island Race! The most tactful teams might have been able to complete the course in under 30 miles, meaning it was a demanding - but "Serious Fun!" - day for the entire fleet.

With breeze in the high teens, gusting into the 20s, it was high intensity as all boats pushed their full sail limits. Today there was really only one main objective: come out victorious in the favorite race of the entire event - Win the Around the Island Race! Extra trophies will be awarded at the final prize-giving for teams' Around the Island performance in Multihull, Monohull and Bareboat classes, so it would certainly be worth the extra effort to push for a win today.

Race Committee added to the excitement by sending the fleet on a downwind start from Simpson Bay on the clockwise race around the island. Leopard 3 made the start look effortless with a single bowman at the tip of their 100-foot Maxi, ensuring a graceful unfurl of their branded spinnaker. But it was actually Saida, one of the three Swan 65s, who was first in CSA 1 to get their spinnaker up. El Ocaso was first to have their spinnaker up in CSA 3, and Panacea X was first to launch their chute for CSA 4 - with both teams taking first in their class, nailing the start seemed to pay off!

There was plenty of action on the race course with the race starting right in the heat of a downwind leg. Early off the downwind start line, El Ocaso and their closest competitor Spike were already in a duel. Spike had El Ocaso in "downwind jail" right off the start, but El Ocaso rounded up into Spike's lane, forcing Spike to smoothly maneuver to leeward to avoid collision. The duel continued after the mark rounding, in an upwind tacking battle in front of Marigot Bay.

Despite the two separate race committees and start areas, today most of the fleet were on the same assignment, meaning there were some fun mixed fleets to admire as they sailed down the south coast of the island. CSA 2 met up with the bare boats right in front of Mullet/Maho just after 10 AM, giving morning beach goers a spectacular view — proving early birds get the worm!

Competition within the fleets was unrelenting, with many teams racing side-by-side for the full 30-mile course. While most boats stuck with their fleets, Team Budget Marine, a Melges 24 in CSA 6, took the opportunity to head offshore to better breeze on the final downwind leg of the race, and overtook the class ahead by Cay Bay right before the finish. In CSA 5, Pepsi Zero and Solstice were spotted in a match-off near Little Bay, but struggled to keep their spinnakers full in the wind shadows left by the mountainous coast.

Meanwhile, Melges 24 FKG was still back at Little Bay, while Team Island Water World just passed Philipsburg, both choosing a more coastal route that did not pay off in the Northeasterly breeze. Local members of the Island Time Class proved they really know their island, hugging close to the cliffs at Point Blanche, hoping for a nice push in acceleration as the breeze wrapped around the island.

In Multihull 1, local boat Tryst came in third, but is averaging first place overall going into Day 3. Guy Chester on Oceans Tribute took home a bullet, proving his ocean-going trimaran was a horse made for big courses. The sailors' day concluded with a well-earned prize-giving on the grand stage, with new and returning winners to the stage to collect their Daily Prizes.

Then it was officially time to turn on the entertainment, kicking off the weekend of the legendary St. Maarten Heineken Regatta parties with a press conference featuring the event's local and international headliners. The line-up of artists showcases a Caribbean melange of talent, where island vibes are abound, from soca sounds to reggae hits and a new-age mix of flavors. From home-grown talent Tamillia to international reggae star Tarrus Riley, there were generations of artists and musical genres represented on the panel.

"I have so much to learn, it's just the beginning for me in the industry. I can't even start to imagine what it is like to be as big as Tarrus Riley. But if he had a book, I'd read it. I just want to learn and know it all!" said local St. Maarten artist Tamillia when asked what she could potentially learn from Tarrus Riley. Tarrus responded to what wisdom he could bestow to upcoming artist Tamillia, "You can learn a lot from yourself more than from me. Just have endless conversations with yourself. You know when you can practice a little more, push a little more... So look to yourself for the answers. If you want to learn from me, listen to the person that is inside of you."

Truly an inspiring conversation, and certainly the crowd is looking forward to all of the inspired performances coming up this weekend! Today, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta also celebrated the key value of "generations" where the event organizers were inspired by the many families and generations of talent that have been part of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. Traditions continue, and new ones are made each year, in this serious fun and family-friendly event.

"I know if I asked my dad to go sailing anywhere in the world with me, he wouldn't hesitate to say yes. So it's in my blood to sail with my family," said Alicia Cameron, crew member onboard Keelforce in the Bareboat 1 class. "She's grown into becoming a sailor. She does her job on the boat, I do mine; yeah she's my daughter when she's onboard but she's somebody else on the crew that we all count on, and she's great," shared Alicia's proud dad, John Cameron.

The celebration of generations of sailing continues tomorrow with the special Next Generation Race hosted this weekend. The bright green RS Zests will be sailed by the Sint Maarten Yacht Club's junior and "next generation sailors." This initiative already proved to be successful with two "Next Gen" skippers from last year, Emma Lenox and Rio Stomp, now competing with the "big boys" in the Island Time class. If you're lucky enough to be on island, be sure to stop by Dinghy Beach Bar, one of the "Regatta Ready" venues, this weekend to capture the Next Generation racing up close in Simpson Bay!

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