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St. Maarten Classic Yacht Regatta Results

Over an impeccably windy weekend in early December, St. Maarten proved that it can reinvent itself more often than Madonna by successfully hosting the first St. Maarten Classic Yacht Regatta. While a field of just six entrants may not have been a grand entrance organizers were hoping for back in summer, this never felt like a debut.Instead the participating boats buckled down to courses that looked like they had been honed to perfection over the years and the shore side posse was kept busy with parties that no greenhorn could ever have dreamt up.

The inaugural six boats were Anguilla based Charm III, Irish owned Norvantes, St. Maarten’s Synergy, Equus, Apollonia, and another local favorite Lord Sheffield.  Richard West’s 1928 Alden schooner Charm III took first place on Saturday and a sepia tinted photo finish second on Sunday behind Norvantes, skippered by Randy West to take overall honors. While Charm III is a regular campaigner around these waters West was particularly delighted with the win and reserved special praise for the organizers. “Older boats like ours don’t go very well into the wind,” he said.“So you need people that understand that to make courses so that you can actually sail the course.  We had about 22-25 knots which is a reasonable startup wind for a decent schooner.”

During the awards ceremony hosted by Ranchos Restaurant in La Palapa, West challenged fellow schooners to take him on next year singling out those in Massachusetts and Nova Scotia in particular.

On Saturday Norvantes without an engine had to be pulled off the mud near its dock by a launch from FKG Rigging and missed the 8 AM bridge opening at Simpson Bay Lagoon.; But it was all water under the bridge by Sunday when the Camper Nicholson 48 took second place overall.

Third place went to Synergy a Frers 49 owned by Lea de Haas. A former racing class winner in the Heineken, Synergy was, like W46 Equus, one of the younger classics. “Nowadays you have to allow it like in Antigua,” West commented, “otherwise you don’t get any entries. The real ones are few and far between, but everyone is rated so it doesn’t matter.”

Equus took fourth, Apollonia fifth and 72’ Canadian Brigantine Lord Sheffield brought up the rear chuntering behind an ever-disappearing fleet, which earned it the perseverance award.

Off the water, the highlight of the weekend was the magnificent buffet hosted by La Samanna and the Cupecoy Yacht Club which drew dignitaries from both sides of the island to rub shoulders with crew and press on a terrace overlooking Long Bay where the fleet lay at anchor. This was far more than a fancy cookout as a statement of intent the reception confirmed that St. Maarten has classic blood running through its veins.

Organizer Jan Roosens whose past exploits include organizing European rock concerts for 50,000 people and 300 volunteers was delighted with his latest venture.“There is a very good possibility that we will return next year with 20 or so boats,” he said.  “We are not competition for Antigua but there are not so many classic boats out there.”Echoing Richard West’s beliefs that this regatta “will fly.”Roosens confirmed that one Canadian owner who came down just for the weekend to observe had already committed to enter next year as had all many important sponsors.

It may take awhile before the J Class and the tall ships turn up to St. Maarten in December but on the evidence of this regatta this scene is already set.

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