Simpson Bay, St Maarten: It even happens in the usually windy Caribbean. With a forecast of little to no breeze off the isle of St. Maarten – where the steady easterly trade winds generally pump like clockwork – principal race officer Chris Mansfield made the early call to cancel racing on the third day of the Caribbean Multihull Challenge. But on the waterfront docks of the always hopping St. Maarten Yacht Club, on an otherwise gorgeous winter afternoon, the organizers behind the CMC quickly shifted to Plan B. There was lots happening, and plenty to discuss:
- Steve Burzon, the volunteer director of marketing and operations of the CMC, wants to make one thing very clear. The event is many things, including one that brings together a like-minded community of multihull sailors to enjoy the fun, adventure, camaraderie and competition that the Race and Rally provides. But it’s also an event with “soul” with a very specific purpose: to advance the opportunities provided by the busy and effective St. Maarten YC Sailing School. “This year is the school’s 30th anniversary,” he said. “And a major goal for the CMC is to raise funds for it, which teaches so many local kids how to swim and sail. Everything the event does is for the benefit of the youth on this island.”
2. What is yachting worth to St. Maarten? It’s a question the St. Maarten Marine Trades Association and the island’s tourism and economic ministers are eager to understand. To do so, they have commissioned a study led in part by CMC competitor Guy Chester, skipper of the Crowther-designed trimaran Oceans Tribute. “We know yachting is a major part of St. Maarten’s economy,” said SMMTA chair Jesse Peterson. “This study will show the overall economic impact of our thriving marine industry on the island.” All owners of CMC entrants are urged to join the effort. It’s easy! Simply scan the QR code embedded in this release to start the survey.
3. A lay day is an excellent day to recognize the fine work put forth by the CMC’s two NGO environmental sponsors. CLEAR Caribbean’s (clearcaribbean.org) mission is to protect and restore coral reefs in the islands, and is supported by CMC sponsor Tradewinds Experience, whose innovative, all-electric 59-foot catamaran is participating in the Rally portion of the CMC. Led by diver, researcher and environmental activist Tadzio Bervoets, the Caribbean Cetacean Society (ccs-ngo.com) is dedicated to study and preserve the whales, dolphins and porpoises that range through these pristine waters. The CMC is proud to be associated with, and promote, these important organizations.
4. The Optimist pram is an outstanding boat for junior sailors to learn the ropes of sailing and get a taste of competition. As discovered on the docks of the SMYC this afternoon, when filled with ice it also makes a stellar cooler for race sponsor Amstel Light beer! With racing cancelled, CMC officials fired up the barbecue, tossed on the burgers and welcomed competitors to chow and brews on the club’s piers. All donations from the picnic will go directly to the Sailing School coffers.
5. Although the weather failed to cooperate on Saturday for the racing classes, for the 16 yachts in the Rally fleet the fun continued unabated. On Friday, the crews enjoyed a rousing sail to Anse Marcel, where they dropped anchors, enjoyed a swim and gathered ashore for a fine party at the Blue Sail Hotel. Today, in light air, they motored onward to St. Barth’s and a Happy Hour affair at the St. Barth’s Yacht Club with live music, tasty bites and cold beer. Tomorrow, the Rally will return to Simpson Bay to wrap up their fine four-day adventure.
About the Sint Maarten Yacht Club:
Established in 1980 with the goal to promote sailing on the island of St Maarten. It organizes multiple sailing events throughout the year, with the St Maarten Heineken Regatta as its crown jewel. A youth sailing program stimulates local youngsters to become part of the sailing community, teaching them life skills like team work, perseverance and confidence. Always looking to further develop sailing on St Maarten, the not-for-profit Club is active in promoting the sport, as well as its beautiful island destination. For more information visit www.smyc.com.
About the Caribbean Multihull Challenge:
The St Maarten Yacht Club will host the sixth annual Caribbean Multihull Challenge Race and Rally from February 1-4, 2024. The event is open to all multihull sailors on racing catamarans and trimarans as well as chartered cats and cruising multis. For more information visit www.caribbeanmultihullchallenge.com.