The first Friday of March marks the kick off day for the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. The organizers expect this year's event, the 23rd annual, to be another strong year as opening day nears.
The event, which started in 1980 with a meagre entry of just twelve boats, has evolved to become one of the "must do's" of the Carribean circuit of which it is part. With sailing luminaries such as Roy Disney, James Dolan and Laurent Bourgnon participating.
One of the growing fleet of racers is the performance charter boats. Formula One Sailing, based out of Great Britain, will be entering three identical Farr 65 footers and they will be competing against the German Sailing Association entry, the 55 foot Peter van Danzig. These four boats constitute the largest field, to date, in this category and are essentially charter boats with crew members signing on at personal expense. Crew members race and live on board along side a number of paid crew members who are professional sailors. Robbie Ferron, Chairman of the Regatta Steering Committee is pleased to have the boats entered in the regatta as, "They are all very quick and modern, well designed vessels that we proudly welcome to our shores."
Another well represented group consists of the high tech, flat out racing boats. Sotto Voce, a Dutch entry, is in this class but organizers expect that she will meet stiff competition from Equation, a U.S. entry from the Great Lakes, Chippewa, Mischievous and Bharlin Blue.
Racing is not the only thing that draws sailors to St. Maarten for the Heineken Regatta. With the motto of "Serious Fun", the post race parties are a big part of the event with internationally known bands providing entertainment.