Celebration time in St. Maarten

Celebration time in St. Maarten

One of the turns at the 2014 St. Thomas International Regatta. Photo: Dean Barnes.

There’s no coincidence that organizers of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta chose Kool & the Gang to headline their awards ceremony’s after-party at Kim Sha Beach. After all, March 5-8 marks the regatta’s 35th anniversary and one of the most popular of the Grammy-winning R&B group’s all-time hits is Celebration. “We are known as a best-of-both-worlds regatta with world-class racing and fantastic parties,” says regatta director Michele Korteweg. “It’s always challenging to find a balance between artists that entertain sailors as well as other interested parties such as visitors and the local community. But, this is what we’re known for and we make an effort to keep up with expectations on the water as well as on shore.”

For sailors, what’s new this year is that nearly every class of boat—rather than just racing classes—are invited to compete in the pre-regatta Gill Commodore’s Cup. There will be windward-leeward courses for most racing classes and a single race for the somewhat slower boats in order to offer something for everyone. For spectators, everything is in one location this year—Simpson Bay. This is the place to watch all race starts and finishes, plus the bayside Regatta Village here will be the hub for food, drink, live entertainment, and T-shirt sales. In the lyrics of Kool & the Gang, it will definitely be a regatta Too Hot to remember! heinekenregatta.com

St. Thomas International Regatta

What has traditionally been a three-day regatta is now evolving into nearly a weeklong sail-abration that adds even more luster to St. Thomas International Regatta’s reputation as the “Crown Jewel of Caribbean Yacht Racing.” Set for March 27-30, the four-plus-decade event hosted annually at the St. Thomas Yacht Club will kick off with a golf tournament at the famed Mahogany Run Golf Course and a pub crawl in Red Hook on March 25th. This gives additional ways for visitors and locals to join in the fun. Still, the chief focus will be on high-caliber racing with GPS-set courses, professional race management and over 80 competitive entries hailing from the Caribbean, U.S., Europe, and Australia. This year, look for more Grand Prix yachts than ever before and a 25-plus class of home-grown IC24s (a local adaptation of a J/24). “What makes our regatta special is the racing around the islands, friendly attitude, and the fact that everything from the housing to parties and racing happens out of one venue at Cowpet Bay,” says regatta director Bill Canfield. stthomasinternationalregatta.com

By Carol Bareuther, Southern Boating March 2015