Monday, September 8, 2014

Flashback Blog: 2014 Sint Maarten Heineken Regatta

September 2014: Okay, I know I just dedicated the last blog post to our friends and boat-guests, Geoie & Sarah, but this flashback seems appropriate for them as well since they're thinking of joining us for the Heineken Regatta next March. Just look at everything you have to look forward to!

March 6 - 9, 2014

Welcome to the 34th Annual St. Maarten Heineken Regatta! Most of you know that we were in St. Maarten last year at this time enjoying our first Heineken Regatta. As much as we enjoyed attending the parties as spectators, it paled in comparison to actually being IN the regatta.
This time, friends Lisa and Dave on Ke 'Ola Kai invited us to race with them in the "Lottery" (aka cruiser) class on their floating home. Although we'd raced aboard Rowdy in Kemah for three years prior to cutting the docklines, we'd gotten out of practice as blue-water cruisers.
Tacking under pressure? Jibing? Making the mark? Huh?? No problem...for a chance to see the race up close and personal, we were definitely up to the challenge!

Our first day of racing began in Simpson Bay, where we motored from the lagoon, through the bridge, and out into the bay itself. Since contestants also get points for team spirit, Lisa dressed us all up in Hawaiian sarongs, hula skirts, flower leis, and even a ukelele. We had a blast, and managed to get two out of four points. It's a start...

After a beautiful day on the water from Simpson Bay to Philipsburg, a minor catastrophe struck a third of a mile from the finish line: our jib (headsail) tore at the top of the mast, leaving our sail flapping around in 20 knots of wind. We'd been heading straight for the rocks in preparation for a tack, and quickly found ourselves having to turn on the engine to maneuver away from shore. Unfortunately, that's an immediate disqualification for the day...and we were SO close. Crap!!

Day #2 saw a much better performance from our Ke 'Ola Kai crew. We had some gorgeous sailing between Simpson Bay and Marigot Bay, and nearly got to see the interior of a massive racing catamaran (known as "gun boats") that was heading straight for us. As the rules of racing go, we had right of way...which typically means that another boat will wait until the last possible minute to change course. Talk about not having any breathing room! The day certainly got our heart rates up, and it was worth it...we came in first in our class!

Our final race day took us from Marigot back down to Simpson Bay. Winds were squirrely at times, and some boats looked like they weren't moving at all. Still, we got to see some gorgeous spinnakers as we rounded the island, and did some fancy footwork passing between other boats. All in all, we got 6th place for the three-day race...not too shabby considering we got a DNF on day one!

In addition to race days, there were, of course, the nightly Heineken festivities...and do these racers know how to party! From the Mount Gay party at the Soggy Dollar bar to the dance-off at Port de Plaisance marina to the street parties in Marigot and Phillipsburg, the Heineken was flowing and the people-watching was fantastic.
I honestly don't know how they do it - we decided it was much easier to be spectators than to be racers AND partiers. Does that make us OLD???

Once the regatta was over, we had one more thing to celebrate: Rene's birthday! We spent another year at Skipjack's enjoying their fabulous seafood dishes with great friends. Now we're off to Antigua to continue our Regatta hopping...Classics Week, here we come!

Save the dates: Sint Maarten Heineken Regatta 2015: Wednesday, March 4 - Sunday, March 8

A huge thank you to Susan on Genesis, Jolanda on JoHo, and Lisa on Ke 'Ola Kai for sharing their beautiful pictures. To see more of their great work, please click here.

No comments: