The 36th annual St. Maarten Heineken Regatta delivered a nice variety of conditions for the diverse fleet of 196 boats and crews over the weekend. But it didn’t matter if it was blowing in the 20s the first day, the mid- to upper teens on the second day, or the lower teens on the third day, there was no stopping Lloyd Thornburg’s St. Barth/Newport Beach/Santa Fe-based mean green MOD70 machine Phaedo3.
With Brian Thompson as co-skipper, Phaedo3 crushed the competition with speeds as high as 37 knots the first day in the process of establishing a new around-island record of 1 hour and 19 minutes. That’s going to be a tough one to beat, as conditions were just right for the boat. She was impossible to beat in the light air of the third race, too, as 12 knots was often all she needed to get up on one hull and take off.
Greg Slyngstad’s new Seattle-based all-carbon Bieker 53 took an impressive second in Multihull 1 in the windy first race, despite having had to replace her original mast, which had come down during an attempted crossing from the Virgin Islands to Anguilla a number of months ago. But she was bested the next two days by the Formula 40 Soma and finished third for the regatta. In all fairness to Slyngstad, his very fast cruising cat found herself in a difficult position, and she didn’t really belong with the likes of a MOD70 and a Formula 40, nor did she belong racing against Catanas and other production cats.
Lord Irvine Laidlaw’s latest Highland Fling, an R/P 82, set an around-the-island monohull record of 2 hours and 12 minutes, hitting speeds of up to 22 knots. Yet it was Peter Harrison’s TP52 Sorcha that dominated the premiere monohull class, with four straight bullets.
The ‘Heinie’ is a terrific regatta, where both the racing and partying are taken very seriously. For out-of-the-area folks, it’s easy to charter a performance boat or a production charter boat. If you want great racing in great conditions, the Heinie is an excellent choice. For details from this year’s event and great photos — which we unfortunately are unable to download — visit their website.
The forecast ranged from the dire (gale warnings for Saturday afternoon) to the merely uncomfortable (rain for sure, hail possible). Which left yacht racers and clubs with the question of whether to proceed with the weekend’s events.
In the no-go column were Richmond YC’s Sail a Small Boat Day on Saturday and El Toro fleet on Sunday, Mercurys on the Estuary, and Tiburon YC’s last Midwinter race. In the ‘it’s a go’ column were the final Vallejo YC Midwinter race, Golden Gate YC’s final Seaweed Soup race on Saturday, St. Francis YC’s two-day Spring One Design, and the rest of the classes at RYC’s Small Boat Midwinters and Sausalito YC’s final Midwinter race on Sunday.
The lightly-attended GGYC race consisted of a two-lap white-sail reach-reach along the Cityfront in a puffy southerly that easily overcame the strong ebb. The regatta’s awards ceremony followed after everyone finished the quick race. Hank Easom and crew on the 8-Meter Yucca won the big Seaweed Soup bowl for the first time since 2009. If we counted on our fingers correctly, this makes the seventh time for Hank and Yucca!
We’ll have more in the April issue of Latitude 38, including final results from many of the Bay Area Midwinter series wrapping up in March.
The San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival, screening on March 10-13 in the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason, will include a documentary about the unlikely North American winner of the first Whitbread Round the World Race, Ramon Carlín of Mexico.
The unknown team signed up for the inaugural Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973. (The Whitbread would later undergo a change of title sponsor — it’s now known as the Volvo Ocean Race.)
A Mexican businessman, Carlín didn’t even own a boat when he and his son Enrique first pondered the idea of entering the race, which Enrique had read about while studying in Europe. They eventually purchased a brand-new S&S-designed Swan 65, Sayula II, to compete against 16 other yachts skippered by seasoned offshore racers such as Brit Chay Blyth and Frenchman Eric Tabarly. Carlín’s crew included his son, his nephews, and his wife Paquita. The first Whitbread marked the end of an era when offshore racing yachts had comfortable bunks, crew were regularly served hot meals, and it wasn’t uncommon for them to have an adult beverage when they came off watch.
Three men were swept overboard and died during the first Whitbread, and Sayula II suffered a dramatic mid-ocean knockdown that easily could have been disastrous. Nevertheless, the mostly-untried crew engineered one of the greatest upsets ever in the history of sailboat racing. Bernardo Arsuaga’s film that tells the story, The Weekend Sailor, will debut at 4 p.m. on March 11 at the Festival.
The film is narrated by Simon Le Bon, who sailed the Whibread aboard Drum, and is best known as the lead singer of Duran Duran. Included are cameos by Sir Chay, Franck Cammas, Torben Grael, and many of Sayula II original crew — including West Coast hired guns Keith Lorence and Ray Conrady.