SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - In less than a month, over 110 yachts from more than 20 countries will compete in the 39th St Maarten Heineken Regatta. A key event on the Caribbean race schedule, the regatta attracts some of the world’s elite sailors and crews, with fast and furious racing in monohulls, maxis and multihulls.
But for those looking to have a more relaxed experience, the regatta offers an "Island Time Class" designed for cruisers, enabling them to have all the fun of the regatta, without the stress!
The Island Time Class offers competitors a single coastal race each day, with an 11 a.m. start, at a discounted regatta entry rate. Enjoying the sailing is the priority.
Founder of the North American Rally to the Caribbean (NARC) which marks it’s 20th anniversary this year, Hank Schmitt, has supported the Caribbean regattas for over 15 years. Sponsoring the Island Time Class for the 4th year, Hank Schmitt wants to share with other cruisers how easy it is to participate.
This will be the 5th year that Hank Schmitt competes in the Cruising division racing his Swan 48Avocation.
Hank Schmitt comments, “For competitors who don't want to worry about stripping their boat down to get it race-ready, the Island Time Class is perfect. It is the first big regatta of the season and the shoreside activities are great. In some regattas only the participants are even aware that a regatta is going on but in St. Maarten the entire island knows, which makes the atmosphere electric.”
First time entrants in the Island Time Class are encouraged to come to the special opening party so skippers and crews from the boats can meet each other. This makes it more fun on the course knowing you will seeing each other after the races ashore.
Hank Schmitt says, “At the opening party, skippers and crew share some of the things we’ve learned from past years that will make it easier for new “racers” to race. The Island Time Class are the only division that meets on the first night and then hopefully every night before the big events starting after dark. With just one race a day and the 10.30 Bridge to make, participants can enjoy the racing, the legendary parties and get a little sleep in!”
Entries for the Island Time Class do not need to pay for a race rating. The handicap changes each day based on the finish the day before so there is a chance for more people to win. There is only a 1st place trophy each day with four trophies in four days compared to the other classes that have three trophies for 1st, 2nd and 3rd only.
St Maarten Heineken Regatta Race Director Paul Miller comments “In the true spirit of the St Maarten Heineken Regatta we want everyone to share the joy of being out on the water and experience the thrill of racing in our stunning waters. Our experienced Committee Team are planning some fantastic tailored courses and this year’s Island Time Class is all set to be the most fun yet!”
The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is as famous for its parties as it is for its racing. Over four nights, some of the world’s top artists take to the stage and ensure that each day of racing starts as well as it ends with the festivities continuing long into the night. So far Alison Hinds, The Jacksons, Shermanology and Fatman Scoop have been confirmed with more party announcements to follow.