Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Big Boats, Big Names Making Plans for the 31st Edition of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta

St. Maarten, (January 25, 2011) – As the anticipation mounts for the 31st running of the annual festival of sailing, music and parties known as the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta—this year’s event is scheduled for March 3-6—the entry list continues to grow…in more ways than one. Not only is the fleet of big boats growing daily, so is the roster of big-name sailors who will be making their way to the Caribbean for this next edition of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.

For sailors seeking a long-distance challenge followed by the closed-course and point-to-point day races that remain a signature of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, the 2011 Caribbean racing season is shaping up as one of the best ever, with an intriguing and diverse series of events…all of which are conveniently centered around the 2011 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.

First off, beginning on February 21st, is the 600-mile Caribbean 600 starting in Antigua. And following the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta later in March is Nautor’s ClubSwan Caribbean Rendezvous in the British Virgin Islands.

The Caribbean 600 is proving to be an ideal “feeder” race for the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. A half-dozen strong entries have already entered both of these stellar races, and several more yachts—with a few interesting surprises—are rumored to announce plans to compete in both regattas in the weeks ahead.

The confirmed entrants for both the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta and the earlier Caribbean 600 range are an interesting mix, including Brian Benjamin’s Carbon Ocean 82, Aegir II; Meghan Grundy’s Custom Tripp 75, Bella Pita; a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 52, Great Escape of Southampton; Allie Smith’s Beneteau First 50, Hydrocarbon Logic; the Rob Humphrey-designed 54-footer, Oystercatcher XXVII; and Lloyd Thornburg’s spanking new Gunboat 66, Phaedo.

There are some big-name sailors in that diverse fleet, including several aboard Phaedo: professional sailor and Volvo Ocean Race veteran Mikey Joubert, American multihull legend Cam Lewis, and Jan Dekker of Club Med, America’s Cup and VOR fame. Speaking of offshore sailing heroes, one of the most accomplished long-distance sailors ever, five-time round-the-world racer Bouwe Bekking, will reportedly be competing aboard the Grand Soleil 43, Antilope. And behind the wheel of Oystercatcher XXVII will be one of the most accomplished British yachtsman/boatbuilders of this era, Richard Matthews.

A closer look at some of the big boats racing in both the 2011 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta fleet and the Caribbean 600 suggests the competition in the upper echelons of the field will be tight and dramatic. The all-carbon Aegir II, designed by Simon Rogers and sporting a carbon fiber, three-spreader rig, will easily make over ten knots sailing upwind; off the breeze, powered by a massive masthead asymmetric spinnaker spreading over 650 square meters of sail, the sleek 82-footer is capable of 20-knots speeds and more. Aegir II made a stunning debut last September, winning their class at the Rolex Maxi Yacht Cup.

Though somewhat smaller, given the right conditions, Bella PITA—a 75-foot Bill Tripp-designed Maxi Dolphin, which notched a third in the 2010 BVI Spring Regatta—could give Aegir II a run for their money. With its deep, lifting keel complimented by some 1,250 liters of water ballast, Bella PITA is an extremely versatile boat for cruising, short-handed passage making, and the fully crewed racing she’ll enjoy at the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.

When it comes to the sheer spectacle of sailing, however, it’ll be difficult for competitors and spectators alike to keep their eyes off the 66-foot, South African-built catamaran Phaedo, one of the newest offerings in the outrageous Gunboat line…and painted in an unmistakable Metallic Lamborghini Orange. In the three previous decades of racing at the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, it’s safe to say there’s never been anything on the racecourse quite like Phaedo.

Once again, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta will be making history. Shouldn’t you come to the Caribbean this March and make some history of your own?

For full information on the Budget Marine Match Racing Cup, Gill Commodore’s Cup and the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, as well as entry lists, past results, photos, videos, party and band information, the Notice of Race, Sailing Instructions and much, much more, visit www.heinekenregatta.com