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5 March 2007, 10:23 am
With Style And Finesse...
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St Maarten Heineken Regatta 2007
St Maarten, Netherlands Antilles

The 27th edition of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta concluded on Sunday in spectacular fashion as more than 200 boats in 20 divisions enjoyed classic Caribbean sailing conditions to wrap up a most memorable running of the annual event. Highlights of the regatta included the dominant Volvo 70 ABN AMRO ONE, and the performance of Huey Too, Bernie EVANS-WONG's (ANT) Cal 40, who was named Boat of the Regatta.
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2006 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Mike SANDERSON's (NZL) world-beating ABN AMRO ONE put on a sailing clinic while regularly registering speeds of better than 20 knots.

With three straight wins to capture the Non-Spinnaker 2 class, veteran campaigner EVANS-WONG's Cal 40, Huey Too, was named Boat of the Regatta for the 2007 St Maarten Heineken Regatta. EVANS-WONG, from Antigua, was sailing the venerable design first introduced by designer Bill LAPWORTH in 1967. The boat was an immediate success in the classic Transpac Race from Los Angeles to Honolulu, and four decades along, EVANS-WONG sailed it to perfection to win his class, and the prestigious prize for 2007.

The superb Race Committee continued the stellar work it has exhibited throughout this breezy regatta while utilizing three separate courses from the starting line off Marigot Harbour to the finish in Simpson Bay. The two Bigboats divisions, Spinnaker Classes 3-5, and the Multihull 1 fleet all sailed a course that first took them on a windy beat to a mark inside the island of Tintamarre on St Maarten's northeast coastline, and which ultimately measured 29 nautical miles. Spinnaker Classes 6 and 7, and Non Spinnaker 1 and 2, sailed a slightly abbreviated course of 15.5 nautical miles, while the remaining divisions, including all six Bareboat classes, were assigned a straightforward race track of 11.5 nautical miles.

Plenty Of Breeze

Unlike the 2006 St Maarten Heineken Regatta, when Sunday's racing was cancelled for the extremely rare occurrence of no wind, this year's edition of the event was blessed with plenty of breeze for all four days of competition, including Thursday's running of the inaugural Commodore's Cup sponsored by Budget Marine, a first in the regatta's long history. Sunday was no exception, as the racers set sail in winds that hovered in the upper teens this morning and which filled in to superb, challenging easterlies of 20 knots and more as the day progressed.

In Bigboats 1, Moose SANDERSON's ABN AMRO ONE, sailing with a stellar crew of professional sailors including SANDERSON's fellow Volvo Ocean Race and America's Cup veteran John KOSTECKI (USA), submitted its fifth straight 'horizon job' in the five boat class to take top honours in the division. Jim SWARTZ's (USA) Moneypenny, a Swan 601, sailed a fine series to finish second in the class, in so doing relegating Tom HILL's (PUR) 75 footer, Titan 12, to a disappointing third.

In Bigboats 2, the windy conditions were perfectly suited to Sir Peter HARRISON's (GBR) 115 foot ketch, Sojana, which, by virtue of its victory in Sunday's race, edged out 2006 class winner Chippewa, Clay DEUTSCH's (USA) Swan 68, by a single point. Chippewa took second in Sunday's race, which is where she stood in the final Bigboats 2 standings.

Duel For Spinnaker 3 Class

Spinnaker 3 was yet another class that came down to a duel between a pair of competitors. Between the two of them, Sir Geoffrey MULCAHY's (GBR) Swan 56, Noonmark VI, and Les CROUCH's (USA) Soca Sailboats 44, Storm, won every race in the five race series. But when all was said and done, with a pair of bullets and three seconds, it was Noonmark at the top of the 13 boat class.

With a first in Sunday's fifth and final race, Robert BOTTOMLEY's Beneteau 47.7, Sailplane, wrapped up class honours in the Spinnaker 4 division, which also consisted of 13 entrants. In what turned out to be one of the real surprises in the fleet, Spinnaker 5 was dominated by Rick WESSLUND's J/120, El Ocaso, which won four races to beat Sergio SAGRAMOSO's Beneteau 40.7, a class winner in previous St Maarten Heineken Regattas, by a comfortable nine points.

Paul CHRISTO JOHNSON's well-sailed Beneteau 10M, Bruggadung, from Barbados, edged out John BISHOP's J/100, Expensive Habit, by just two points to win Spinnaker 6. In Spinnaker 7, the margin of victory was even tighter, as Ian HOPE-ROSS's Beneteau 36, Kick 'em Jenny, was also a single point better than Michel HEIDWEILER's J/109, Vrijgezelig.

In Non-Spinnaker 1, Bob PHILLIPS and the crew of the Oceanis 440, Three Harkoms, left nothing to chance, winning the class in decisive fashion with three bullets. As noted, Antiguan sailor EVAN-WONG accomplished the same mighty feat aboard his Cal 40, Huey Too, to lead the fleet home in Non-Spinnaker 2.

The Open Class victor was Jorge LOPES aboard the Sun Odyssey 40, Infinito. Nils ERICKSON won every race, and the Multihull 1 division, on his Formula 40 catamaran, Soma. In Multihull 2, the winner was Jean Pierre ABETEL aboard Dreamcatcher. Pascal MARCHAIS and his Hobie 18 Tiger, Snickers-Dell-Quicksilver, was another 'straight-sets' victor with a trio of bullets in the Beach Cats crowd. Morgan MCCLEAN won the Exhibition class aboard the 12 Metre, Stars & Stripes.

Bareboat Battle

The Bareboat charter classes are always a big part of the St Martin Heineken Regatta, and this year was no different, with some 105 boats racing in six separate divisions. Bareboats 1 was taken by Canadian Irek ZUBKO aboard the Jeanneau 49, Guilt. The winner of Bareboats 2 was Dutch skipper Rene BAARTMANS aboard the Moorings 505, Harten Heer. In Bareboats 3, USA sailor Jeffrey SOCHRIN was top dog with the Beneteau 47, Team Goldendog.

Papillon, a Moorings 515 chartered by David SAEYS, was the winner, with two firsts and a second, in Bareboats 4. Robert THOLE was also a three-time winner aboard the Oceanis 440, Amsterdam, in Bareboats 5. Last in this report, but certainly not least, was John PINHEIRO on the Moorings 403, Scooby II, who won Bareboats 6.

With that, the 27th St Maarten Heineken Regatta came to a close.

Heather Tackling (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Huey Too:© Bob Greiser
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