Every March, St. Maarten eagerly awaits the arrival of sailors from across the globe for the iconic 2024 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. This year, the 44th edition of the event, scheduled for February 29 – March 3, 2024, promises an unprecedented number of race charters tailored for competitive teams seeking a blend of “Serious Fun!” in both racing and entertainment.
Traditionally, bareboat charters were the sole avenue for international sailors to participate in Caribbean racing without the need to bring their own vessels. However, an increasing number of performance yacht owners and charter organizations now offer personalized race charters to cater to teams with specific yacht preferences that align with their racing objectives. Whether it’s a Melges or a Volvo Ocean Race boat, teams have the choice to race with a familiar fleet or charter their dream vessel, competing against and alongside seasoned professionals.
For instance, Marcos Weinstein and his crew opted for the familiar J120, J-Aguar, as it perfectly suited their team. Having raced on J120s for two decades, transitioning to one for the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta was a seamless move. Marcos and his team, hailing from various parts of the US, participated in the 2023 Regatta and, despite leaving with fond memories, they also harbored some unfinished business. Marcos Weinstein reflected on the experience and affirmed their return aboard J-Aguar, saying,“Very fun and a really great venue for racing. Looking forward to 2024 for another shot at the Podium.”
While many consider the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta a “bucket list” event, it doesn’t mean you should only experience it once. In 1999, Alan Paris and his crew chartered a Henderson 30 for the 19th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. Twenty years later, in 2019, they celebrated their own “reunion regatta” and returned to the event, chartering another performance racer, a Pogo 12.50 with Ocean Racers. Alan and his crew enjoyed themselves so much that they decided not to wait another two decades for their next reunion regatta. They’ll be back for the 2024 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, and this time, Alan will bring his own boat, “Learning to Fly,” a J90!
Pogo 12.50 Hermes and several other race charters are also making a comeback for the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta and are available for team charter in 2024. Various race teams and agencies, including Ocean Racers, LV Yachting, Global Yacht Racing, OnDeck, and Barefoot Charters, offer a diverse selection of performance boats tailored to different team sizes and skill levels. Most race charters come with a professional skipper and training days to provide performance coaching for visiting teams.
For those interested in performance race charters, additional information about the available boats can be found on the Regatta website.