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2 March 2006, 09:16 am
Quality And Quantity
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St. Maarten Heineken Regatta 2006
St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles

This year the entry list for the 26th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta in the Netherlands Antilles boast over 255 boats, with days still to go before the first gun. While there is the usual phalanx of bareboats - the numbers are slightly down on last year's record ­ the racing classes are up in numbers and quality.
A Farr 115, a Wally 77, a Reichel-Pugh 75, a Farr 60, TP52s, Swan 45s, First 40.7s, J/105s, 109s and 120s, the seven spinnaker classes are bristling with high quality racing boats.

More Nations

Boats from 27 nations will turn up for the regatta if two that are having difficulty getting visas one from South Africa and the other, a real breakthrough in that it is the first entry from Nigeria make it to the party. The biggest contingent is from the Netherlands with 65, followed by the USA with 39, then the home island with 22 from both French and Dutch sides, 15 from Guadeloupe and 13 from France. Other contingents of note include, eight from Great Britain, five from Italy, Germany and Canada, four from Belgium, three from the US Virgin Islands and from Puerto Rico, two from Antigua Barbados and Curacao, and one from Algeria.

More Classes

For the first time there will be seven spinnaker classes to cater for the number of entrants in the racing classes. The class allocation committee has been able to assemble high quality groupings and the sailors will appreciate the very tight classes that have been created for this year's regatta.

There is the biggest collection of multihulls in any Caribbean regatta for many a year. 20 cruising and racing catamarans and trimarans are joined by eight beach cats, Hobie 18s, Prindle 19s or Nacra 5.5s. The Nigerians are hoping to make their mark in this class with a trimaran, and they will join local boats, boats from France, Guadeloupe, the Netherlands, USA, the US Virgin Islands, Canada, St. Croix , St. John and Tortola.

Big Names

Top sailors come to St. Maarten. Round the world sailing gods, America's Cup gods, Caribbean gods, they are all here. Lionel PEAN (FRA), past winner of the Whitbread Round the World Race is sailing in luxury as skipper of a Jongert 88. Recently retired South African America's Cup skipper, Geoff MEEK is also having a luxurious time of it steering Peter HARRISON's (GBR) 115 footer Sojana. Current America's Cup guru Brad BUTTERWORTH (NZL), leading light in the Alinghi America's Cup campaign, is in St. Maarten with a number of his rock star crew sailing aboard Numbers, Daniel MYERS' (USA) Farr 60.

Dick JOHNSON (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Lining up for the start:© Heineken Regatta
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