Official Supporter of TEAM ABN AMRO in the Volvo Ocean Race

Heineken St. Maarten Regatta 2007

The Fun was Serious! With the 2007 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta on the Books, Organizers Look Ahead to the 28th Running of the Great Festival of Caribbean Sailing (and Partying).

The 27th edition of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta concluded in fine fashion last evening with a prize-giving ceremony on Kim Sha Beach followed by musical entertainment by the band Orange Grove and the offspring of reggae legend Bob Marley-sons Damian Marley and Stephen Marley-who captivated the crowd of thousands of sailors and islanders with a set that included stirring renditions of many of their father's most memorable songs.

As race organizers and the dozens of volunteers who helped make the regatta a tremendous success gathered themselves after the four-day marathon of sailing and parties, plans were already being set in motion for the 28th running of the annual event, which is scheduled for March 6-9, 2008.

Chairman and co-founder of the regatta Robbie Ferron, with assistance from a host of St. Maarten dignitaries and officials, handed out prizes to the first three boats in the regatta's 20 divisions, with special awards presented to the regatta's top performers. The CBBS Cups, presented to the high scorers in the Caribbean Big Boat Series, went to Mike Sanderson and his crew of ABN AMRO ONE in the Racing category and Clay Deutsch and his team aboard Chippewa in the Racing/Cruising class. Chippewa's prize included a handsome print depicting scenes from previous St. Maarten Heineken Regattas donated by local artist Jim Johnston.

Rene Baartman's Moorings 505, Harten Heer, was named the Top Bareboat Charter Boat in the fleet, and was awarded the Columbus Cup, as well as a sensational trophy sponsored by Caribbean business Little Switzerland: a colorful, handsome globe inlaid with stones from the continents represented on the trophy.

And the winner of the St. Maarten/Saint Martin Cup for Most Worthy Performance Overall was handed to Antiguan sailor Bernie Evans-Wong, skipper of the Cal 40, Huey Too, which dominated his Non-Spinnaker 2 class with a perfect score of three consecutive wins.

The 27th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, for the first time in the event's storied history, also added a fourth day of racing this year, and 57 spinnaker-flying yachts signed up for Thursday's extra session, which was scored as a separate series for the Commodore's Cup, sponsored by Budget Marine. "It was a resounding success," said Regatta Director Mirian Ebbers. "The turnout was great, well beyond what we expected. We will definitely do it again next year."

With that, the 2007 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta comes to an official close. Race organizers wish to thank everyone who participated and volunteered, and who enjoyed the wonderful atmosphere at sea and ashore. The event has always been about Serious Fun, and this year was no different. Thanks again, one and all, and see you in 2008!

With Style and Finesse, Bernie Evans-Wong's Cal 40, Huey Too, is Named Boat of the Regatta as the 27th Running of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta Wraps Up in Spectacular Fashion

The 27th edition of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta concluded today in spectacular fashion as more than 200 boats in 20 divisions enjoyed classic Caribbean sailing conditions to wrap up a most memorable running of the annual event. Highlights of the regatta included the dominating performance of the Volvo 70, ABN AMRO ONE, Mike Sanderson's world-beating yacht, which put on a sailing clinic while regularly registering speeds of better than 20-knots; the addition of a first-ever fourth day of racing for the top race boats, which turned out to be a resounding success; and a Boat of the Regatta award to a design that was first introduced some 40 years ago.

With three straight wins to capture the Non-Spinnaker 2 class, veteran campaigner Bernie Evans-Wong's Cal 40, Huey Too, was named Boat of the Regatta for the 2007 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. Evans-Wong, from Antigua, was sailing the venerable design first introduced by designer Bill Lapworth in 1967. The boat was an immediate success in the classic Transpac Race from Los Angeles to Honolulu, and four decades along, Evans-Wong sailed it to perfection to win his class, and the prestigious prize for 2007.

The superb race committee continued the stellar work it's exhibited throughout this breezy regatta while utilizing three separate courses from the starting line off Marigot Harbour to the finish in Simpson Bay. The two Bigboats divisions, Spinnaker Classes 3-5, and the Multihull 1 fleet all sailed a course that first took them on a windy beat to a mark inside the island of Tintamarre on St. Maarten's northeast coastline, and which ultimately measured 29 nautical miles. Spinnaker Classes 6 and 7, and Non Spinnaker 1 and 2, sailed a slightly abbreviated course of 15.5 nautical miles, while the remaining divisions, including all six Bareboat classes, were assigned a straightforward race track of 11.5 nautical miles.

Unlike the 2006 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, when Sunday's racing was cancelled for the extremely rare occurrence of no wind, this year's edition of the event was blessed with plenty of breeze for all four days of competition, including Thursday's running of the inaugural Commodore's Cup sponsored by Budget Marine, a first in the regatta's long history. Today was no exception, as the racers set sail in winds that hovered in the upper teens this morning and which filled in to superb, challenging easterlies of 20-knots and more as the day progressed.

In Bigboats 1, Moose Sanderson's ABN AMRO ONE-sailing with a stellar crew of professional sailors including Sanderson's fellow Volvo Ocean Race and America's Cup veteran, John Kostecki-submitted its fifth straight "horizon job" in the 5-boat class to take top honors in the division. Jim Swartz's Moneypenny, a Swan 601, sailed a fine series to finish second in the class, in so doing relegating Tom Hill's 75-footer, Titan 12, to a disappointing third.

In Bigboats 2, the windy conditions were perfectly suited to Sir Peter Harrison's 115-foot ketch, Sojana, which, by virtue of its victory in today's race, edged out 2006 class winner Chippewa, Clay Deutsch's Swan 68, by a single point. Chippewa took second in today's race, which is where she stood in the final Bigboats 2 standings.

© Bob Grieser

Let it Blow! In Big Breeze and Rolling Seas, the Fleet Faces Challenging Conditions En Route to Marigot in the 27th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta

They said it would blow, and blow it did. As early as last Monday, forecasters peering into their long-range crystal balls predicted that the conditions for the 27th edition of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta would peak for Saturday's racing, with winds hovering around 25-knots and more. Meteorology, of course, is often an inexact science, but this time the weathermen were spot on. When the figurative dust had settled this afternoon and the crews aboard the final boats to arrive had set their anchors off the French port of Marigot, they did so after a fine, challenging and memorable day of yacht racing.

It was the sort of day that sailmakers love, for there was no lack of carnage in the sail inventories-particularly the downwind sails for the seven spinnaker divisions-of many of the 239-boats competing in the event. Tom Hill's 75-foot Titan 12 shredded a spinnaker in spectacular fashion while trying to reach up to a mark off Simpson Bay. A cloud of headsail aboard Lord Irving Laidlaw's Swan 112, Highland Breeze, came floating down to the sea after a halyard parted as the boat cleaved to windward.

There were other, more dramatic incidents on the race course today, too. A crewmember off the Olson 30, Lost Horizons 2, racing in the Spinnaker 6 class, went overboard and was recovered by the team of the Dehler 34, Budget Marine, racing in the Spinnaker 7 division. There were also reports, unconfirmed at the deadline for this release, that a sailor on a Spinnaker 3 class yacht lost a finger in a sail-handling maneuver gone very wrong.

The spinnaker classes completed two windward/leeward races this morning off Simpson Bay, and there were plenty of boats that crossed the finish line after the final downwind leg with kites flying from their mastheads or with massive hourglass wraps that took some time and effort to untangle. It was a wild, colorful scene that was repeated later in the day off Bass Terre on the island's western flank as the entire St. Maarten Heinken Regatta fleet-the bareboat, non-spinnaker and multihull classes did not race this morning-rounded a mark for the final beat to Marigot.

If a picture's worth a thousand words, the images captured today by race photographers Bob Grieser and Tim Wright could easily fill a dictionary's worth of pages. For a complete gallery of the action off St. Maarten, visit the event's website at

In Bigboats 1, skipper Mike Sanderson's Volvo 70, ABN AMRO ONE. held on to the top spot with two more wins, but Jim Swartz's Moneypenny, a Swan 601, slipped ahead of Titan 12 by virtue of correcting out to first place in today's first race of the day.

In Bigboats 2, 2006 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta division winner Clay Deutsch moved to the top of the class aboard his Swan 68, Chippewa, with a perfect Saturday hat trick of three consecutive victories.

Clash of the Titans! ABN AMRO ONE Leads Titan 12 and 237 Other Boats Around the Island in Ideal St. Maarten Heineken Regatta Conditions

The clear, azure waters surrounding the green peaks of the island of St. Maarten were dotted with sails of all sizes, colors and descriptions today when racing began for all 20 classes comprising the mammoth 239-boat fleet that has gathered here for the 27th running of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. Sailing under sunny blue skies and fueled by ideal trade-wind breezes, the racers enjoyed perfect Caribbean conditions for the challenging around-the-island race that's a perennial feature of the annual event.

© Bob Grieser

In what had anxiously been billed as the "Clash of the Titans," spectators and sailors alike were treated today to the duel between the powerful canting-keeled Volvo 70, ABN AMRO ONE, and Tom Hill's lean red rocket, the 75-foot Titan 12, in the 5-boat Bigboats 1 class. Titan 12 was forced to withdraw from Thursday's opening action with a damaged forestay when seven classes of all-out racing yachts set sail to contest the event's inaugural Commodore's Cup sponsored by Budget Marine.

This morning, however, Titan 12 was on the starting line and in fighting form when racing began in 18- to 20-knots of steady easterly breeze. Starting just to leeward of ABN AMRO ONE, Titan 12 and skipper Mike Sanderson's Volvo winner, affectionately known as Black Betty, both hit the line at speed and each held to a long starboard tack into shore in search of current relief. Upwind, at least from a vantage point in a media helicopter 500-feet above the fray, the boats seemed fairly even. But Titan was forced to tack first and at that juncture ABN AMRO ONE crossed easily in controlling position. And that is where she'd stay.

The race committee set a course with a short windward leg and an even shorter reaching leg for the seven St. Maarten Heineken Regatta racing classes. Once around the second mark, the fleet could hoist spinnakers for the initial run on the round-the-island racetrack. It was at that top mark, when ABN AMRO ONE hoisted its big asymmetric kite, that its dramatic speed advantage was revealed.

It has to be noted that with its tall, five-spreader rig flying a veritable cloud of sail-a full-hoist main, high-cut headsail, and billowing white symmetrical spinnaker-Titan 12 was a stirring sight as it roared down the race course. But the downwind battle with ABN AMRO ONE, whose long, white wake looked like a jet contrail, wasn't a fair fight. ABN AMRO ONE sailed the roughly 33-nautical mile course in a blistering 2 hours 49 minutes 20 seconds to win Bigboats 1 as first boat to finish and first on corrected time. Titan 12, a little over 17 minutes behind, was second in Bigboats 1 in both categories.

Remarkable visuals weren't the sole domain of the Grand Prix racers, however. In the aptly named Bigboats 2 division, the ketch-rigged Farr 115, Sojana-owned by former British America's Cup campaigner, Sir Peter Harrison-and Sir Irvine Laidlaw's Swan 112, Highland Breeze, quite literally dwarfed their competition as they started cleanly on opposite ends of the starting line. Sojana rolled the Carpenter 64, Van Ki Pass, like she was standing still. But when all was said and done, it was Anders Johnson's well-sailed Swan 70, Blue Pearl, which corrected out to first in the division, with Sojana in second place and Highland Breeze holding on to third.

© Bob Grieser

Twenty Classes, 256 Entries, Two Volvo Ocean Race Winners:
The 27th Annual St. Maarten Heineken Regatta Begins Thursday!

February 28th, 2007
The preliminary numbers are in, and they are impressive. The 27th annual St. Maarten Heineken Regatta begins this Thursday, and race officials have divided the 256 entrants into 20 preliminary classes that promise to deliver close, competitive racing across the entire fleet. “It’s all we could hope for,” said race chairman and co-founder Robbie Ferron, as he perused the entry list. “The numbers are there, which is great, but we’ve never been after volume, just quality. And we’re certainly getting that.”

The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta has always attracted terrific boats and world-class sailors, but it’s not every year that entrants get the opportunity to share a race course and swap tacks with not one, but two winners of ocean racing’s most coveted prize. But that will be the case with the 2007 Heineken, which has attracted the victor of the 2006 Volvo Ocean Race, New Zealand’s Mike “Moose” Sanderson, and his invincible Volvo 70, ABN AMRO ONE. Sanderson and his able crew will be assisted by another Volvo champion, American John Kostecki, who skippered illbruck to the winner’s circle in the 2002 round-the-world race.

Racing for all twenty St. Maarten Heineken divisions begins on Friday. This year, for the first time ever, there will also be competition on Thursday. “The top race boats wanted an extra day of racing, so we gave it to them,” said Ferron. “It was a bit of a risk, but 57 boats have entered that will sail in seven spinnaker classes, so it looks like a successful one.” The Thursday racing—for the Commodores Cup, sponsored by Budget Marine—will be scored as a separate regatta, and will not affect the overall standings. Ferron said that some boats will approach it as a practice day, while others will attack it as a competitive series in its own right. When the starting guns sound on Friday, all 256 boats will be on the course vying for victory in their respective divisions. Among the top race boats are a pair of yachts that made history in the prestigious 2006 Newport-Bermuda Race, and will hope to replicate their winning ways in the blue waters of the Caribbean.

A local entry, Lagoon Marina Synergy, a Frers 49 that once competed in the famed Admiral’s Cup, was a division winner in the Newport-Bermuda classic and was also honored with the inaugural Carleton Mitchell Finesterre Trophy as the yacht with the best corrected time in the Cruiser Division. For the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, the boat has been chartered to a team led by Paul Stoutenbeek, who will do their best to lead the pack in the 14-boat-strong Spinnaker 4 class. In the Bigboats 2 class, local hero Randy West will once again be skippering the Carpenter 64, Van Ki Pass, aboard which he chased and found glory in the Newport-Bermuda Race, winning his class in the veteran yacht’s first offshore race after an extensive refit. With her varnished wood hull, Van Ki Pass can and does stand out in any fleet of racers. Another Bermuda veteran, Clay Deutsch aboard his well-sailed Swan 68, Chippewa, will be teeing it up against West and his mates in a fervent attempt to spoil their party, if that’s possible. Along with the 7-boat Bigboats 1 class and the 9-boat Bigboats 2 division, there are 5 dedicated monohull classes—Spinnaker 3 through Spinnaker 7—of flat-out racers that will hoist their colorful, billowing spinnakers on the downwind legs.

There are three divisions of multihulls, including two for racing and cruising catamarans and trimarans, and another for the swift, wild beach cats. An exhibition class is comprised of three former America’s Cup-contending 12-Meters, which always add a visual treat to the race course. There’s also a pair of non-spinnaker racing classes, which may not push the envelope like their spinnaker-flying brethren, but which are no less competitive.

The Open Class, which includes a wide range of entrants—from the J/29, Maxixe, sailed by Timothy Young, to the Beneteau 51, Goeie Mie, skippered by Ton Deegenaars—is one of the most unusual Heineken fleets, as it’s scored on a sliding rating scale that changes daily, depending on how well the yacht performs on a given day. The bulk of the fleet, however, will be scored by the venerable Caribbean Sailing Association (CSA) rating, a handicap system that specifically accounts for the tradewind conditions encountered in the islands.

As always, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta includes a vast number of bareboat charter yachts, which attract a huge cross-section of sailors, from highly talented racers who approach the event with their competitive juices flowing, to more laid-back cruisers who enjoy a spin around the buoys before setting the anchor for the evening.

There are six classes of bareboats this year comprised of 105 individual entries, many of whom come back to the event year after year. Of course, for many people, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is as renowned for its shore-side parties as for the action on the water. On Thursday, March 1, the post-race party will be held at the Port De Plaisance Resort and will include music, samba, and a fashion show.

On Friday, March 2, the venue will shift to the Boardwalk in Philipsburg, with music and entertainment in three separate areas. After point-to-point racing on Saturday, March 3, the post-race party will be staged on the Waterfront in Marigot. And the final prize giving will take place on Sunday afternoon on Kim Sha Beach, with reggae artists Damian Marley and Stephen Marley headlining the festivities. The Heineken Regatta is about to begin. For scores of sailors, it can’t happen soon enough.

Sanderson the ISAF World Sailor of the Year 2006

7 November 2006
The International Sailing Federation and Rolex have announced Mike Sanderson as the winner of the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award. The female winner is Paige Railey Laser Radial Champion (USA).

At an Awards Ceremony tonight in Helsinki, Railey and Sanderson were honoured for their outstanding sailing achievements between 1 September 2005 and 31 August 2006, when Sanderson led TEAM ABN AMRO to a dominant victory in the Volvo Ocean Race and Railey won a number of major international regattas in the Laser Radial.

Few teams have dominated a round-the-world race quite like Mike Sanderson's team on ABN AMRO ONE. Sanderson brought an understated yet authoritative leadership to the campaign, as the team spent the best part of a year learning how to tame and master the frighteningly quick Volvo Open 70 design that was introduced for this race. Sanderson's team not only came up with the fastest boat, but they knew how to sail the Volvo Open 70 better than anyone. Over eight months and 31,500 hard miles around the planet, ABN AMRO ONE won all but three of the nine offshore legs and all but two of seven in-port races.

Mike Sanderson commented: "I am delighted to have been given this award, there is no doubt that this is the sailing world’s Oscars and to have won is just fantastic – it makes all the grey hairs worthwhile!! However, it was the whole of TEAM ABN AMRO who made this all a reality; the designers, the boat builders, the shore crew, the sailors, the marketing team and our great sponsor, ABN AMRO. Without the efforts of the whole crew and the brilliant sponsorship of ABN AMRO, winning the Volvo Ocean Race would not have been possible."

The winners were each presented with a Rolex timepiece and the marble and silver World Sailor Trophy - a solid marble sphere depicting the world and crowned by five silver spinnakers representing the continents.

The renowned sailor, yachting journalist and Rolex Ambassador Gary Jobson hosted the Awards Presentation, which was attended by more than 400 hundred guests from 45 nations, including international sailors and prominent personalities from the sailing world. Presenting the Awards were ISAF President of Honour HM King Constantine and Arnaud Boetsch of Rolex.


© TEAM ABN AMRO | Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi |