Friday, March 7, 2014

Sint Maarten 2014 Heineken Regatta!

Sint Maarten 2014 Heineken Regatta
March 6-9, 2014

The Sint Maarten Heineken Regatta began in 1980 with a modest 12 entries and has steadily climbed to over 200 boats and has drawn web traffic viewing from over 160 individual countries! The event attracts around 2500 sailors and approximately 1000 supporting people to the island. This year, 211 boats participated in the event. Over 100 boats were charter boats that race in the Bareboat fleet and around 50 of those came all the way from Holland. 

The Heineken Regatta is known as one of the “must do” events in the Caribbean and we didn't want to miss it. Four days of world class racing and four nights of fun-filled Heineken parties were scheduled with great food, ice cold beers and international music performers each night.  With the official slogan being “Serious Fun” it is no wonder people come from over 25 countries to attend this one of a kind regatta. We left the US Virgin Islands, we zipped past the British Virgin Islands, staying only one night, so that we could arrive on Sint Maarten in time for this unique and fun regatta (our first!). 

This year was the 34th edition of the regatta, and we were invited to "crew" on a Moody 46 cruising boat, Ke'OlaKai, in the Lottery class.  Ke'OlaKai is a beautiful, solid, seafaring boat. 

Photo Credit: Facebook: Ke'OlaKai:Life on the Sea The Nautical Adventures of Dave and Lisa
The owners of the boat, Dave and Lisa Franco, are experienced racers. They live aboard their boat and travel in the Eastern Caribbean.
"SeaDog" Dave
"Hurri Cane" Lisa
Rene and Stacy Foree, Pipe muh Bligh
Crew members: 

John Hoedemakers and Jolanda Geerdink (JoHo)

LA and Susan Wyatt (Genesis)

The day started with a parade of boats past the Sint Maarten Yacht Club.  This year, they made a show out of the bridge openings, turning a negative time-consuming process into all out fun! The Yacht Shop representatives were at the bridge openings both morning and evening scoring boats on the effort they made as they came through the bridge. 

Ke'OlaKai means "Life on the Sea" in Hawaiian, so Lisa chose an Hawaiian theme for the race.  Here the the women of Ke'OlaKai preparing to be presented to the judging platform.

And the men (!)....

The judging area on the deck of the Sint Maarten Yacht Club rated each racing boat according to originality, effort, and reaction from the crowd on the deck. They scored the boats with cards from 1 to 5 and held up cards for each boat to see the reaction.  We scored a 2 and a 3... I don't know exactly if that was good or bad... but I'm sure it had something to do with the two goofballs shown above :)

Off to the races! 

Captain SeaDog Dave was the captain of the boat for the race and determined the racing plan for the day.  He gave orders to the crew throughout the race. His crew's experience level varied. Lisa (very experienced), Rene and Stacy (experienced), John and Jolanda (limited experience), and us (racing virgins). 

LA and I were excited to be able to participate in the race and see what racing was all about. Being inexperienced at racing, our main jobs were 1). Stay out of the way and 2). Be "rail meat".  "Rail meat" (a highly technical term!) are those crew members in a race who scramble from one side to the other to sit on the edge of the boat to balance it while tacking, or changing its position into the wind. On this keelboat with lifelines (wires around the perimeter to keep from falling overboard), we were in the "hiking position," with our legs dangling over the side. It was nice to take in the atmosphere -- the racing boats, the water, the sky, to be mesmerized by the wind in our face. 

Ready, start, go.... Here's a quick video of the start of the race on Ke'OlaKai!n
Click the highlighted area.  Change the "auto" setting to "HD" resolution for viewing.
And they're off!

When I wasn't being rail meat, I enjoyed taking photographs during the race.  It was so much fun watching all the exciting racing action!

John and Rene hoisting the main sail.
Rene handling the winches.

Stacy and LA looking at the racing instruments awaiting Captain SeaDog Dave's next instruction.

Jolanda and Lisa searching for the next racing buoy.

Captain SeaDog Dave checking out the competition and planning his next move. 

Two videos of racing action! These racing boats really get close to you! Change the "auto" setting to "HD" resolution for viewing.
Racing Action 1
Racing Action 2

How did Ke'OlaKai fare in the Heineken Regatta? Day one (the day we crewed), we were disqualified right at the finish line due to a torn jib. 

Photo credit: Facebook, HurriCane Lisa

 Day two, Ke'OlaKai finished first! Here are the happy winners at the end of Saturday's racing. 

Photo credit: Jolanda Geerdink

At the end of the three day race, Ke'OlaKai placed sixth overall. Congratulations, Ke'OlaKai!

Photo Credit: Jolanda Geerdink

Some post regatta relaxin' action....
We were worn out!

Click the yellow highlighted link below to the our video showing our racing action photos set to music in the Heineken Regatta.  When the video appears, click on the little "gear" in the right hand corner and select "HD" for best video quality.

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