“We’ve had an increase in performance boat entries over the last couple of years and we'd like to continue to grow those classes by attracting boats with ORC ratings from regions like Southern Europe and South America.” says Paul Miller, Racing Director. "In addition to offering widely-used rating systems, we are also offering the right racing with courses and race formats tailored to these types of boats.”
For the last decade, the regatta has been preceded by the Gill Commodore's Cup: a one-day windward-leeward regatta that served as a warm-up for the main event. This year, entry in the Gill Commodore’s Cup is included in every entry for the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. For most classes the Gill Commodore's Cup is still scored separately, but Beach Cat and One-design classes can opt to include the results in their St. Maarten Heineken Regatta scores to create a four-day regatta.
"The Gill Commodore's Cup has grown in popularity so much that we're making it more a part of the regatta for everyone. There's been an increasing demand to extend the regatta and this is a natural way to do that.”
The biggest and most eye-catching change for 2017 is the addition of a special invitational series of races on Monday 6 March: the day after the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta prize-giving.
“Last year, we introduced an après-sail party in Marigot which was very popular despite being a last minute addition to the schedule. This year we want to make this wind-down day into a party that brings together the competitors for a final day of competitive fun.” according to Michelle van der Werff, Regatta Director.
Winners of selected classes will be invited to compete in a series of three short races in identical one-design boats with the winner claiming the title of “Heineken Star” with prizes to be presented at the Après-sail party.