First to get their name on the list is Heather UNDERWOOD's Pretty Woman, a Sovereign 54 in the non-Spinnaker Class, with a crew that hails from Trinidad. Now, Trinis are known throughout the Caribbean for their ability to party harder, faster and longer than anyone, but these guys also know how to sail harder, faster and longer too, so they are perfectly suited to the Heineken regatta's format of party, sail, party, sail, party, sail, party. If there is one boat that the Heineken Regatta's motto of 'Serious Fun' could have been coined for it is Pretty Woman. But don't discount them in the racing stakes; as Heather rightly states: <i>'With my experienced crew, we will certainly be aiming for a spot in the first three of our class.' </i>You heard it here first!
Jan van den EYNDE is another early bird, but he lives on St Maarten so didn't have far to go to slip his entry form through the letter box of the new St Maarten Yacht Club buildings. His boat Soca for Sale has been well to the fore in recent regattas, but Jan regrets not being at all 25 events:<i> 'I missed out on the first regatta in 1980, but there is no way that I could miss this one!' </i>
Phillipsburg's marina owner and one of the more colourful personalities in the regatta, Bobby Valasquez is as usual entering his Beneteau 45 L'Esperance. This boat was put together from the remains of two sister ships that came off decidedly the worse for wear after an encounter with Hurricane Louis some years ago. L'Esperance has been going faster and faster since Bobby entered into a no holds barred contest with Antigua's, marina-owning, Hugh BAILEY and his Hugo, a boat similarly risen from the mess left after a passing hurricane. So far Hugo is just ahead on points, but in this contest, with the home crowd on his side and the Jubilee regatta class win at stake, Bobby is going for a knock-out.
As always the Heineken regatta attracts multihulls, from the beach cats to the biggest. Local entrant Pat Turner will be in St Maarten yet again with his indecently fast Tryst. Pat and Tryst, a granny on steroids - the boat that is, not Pat, started racing here in 1981 and since then has only missed the 1992 regatta following damage to the boat. Pat has unfinished business: <i>'I set the round the Island record in 1985 and held it for ten years, I want that back, and I want to win.' </i>Well, win the class he might, but the round the island record might be a herder nut to crack - it's held by record munching, 128ft long Cheyenne, Steve Fossett's maxi cat.