By Herb McCormick
30 January, 2020 Simpson Bay As the countdown to the second edition of the Caribbean Multihull Challenge moves to its final weeks—the racing begins on February 14—a passionate and dedicated group of sailors, sponsors and volunteers are ramping up their preparations. But nobody is more excited than one of the principal figures behind the event, Steve Burzon. He’s one of the CMC’s main supporter and an ideal ambassador. And he can’t wait to get the party started.
Photo credit: Matthew Burzon
“The CMC is an idea whose time has come,” he said. “It’s growing in every way. The island is coming back. We have more sponsors, more entrants, and more volunteers. People and companies are coming out of the woodwork to be involved. That’s a sure sign of success. It’s an event with intrinsic value!”
When it comes to helping organize an event like the CMC, it’s hard to imagine someone with a better skillset or background at the forefront: a passionate offshore sailor, a longtime New York advertising executive with extensive marketing and promotion experience, and now a resident of the island he has grown to love. In some ways, the bond between the CMC and Steve Burzon seems like destiny.
Steve grew up in New England and started sailing at 19, when he purchased his first boat, a wooden, 19-foot Cape Cod Knockabout. He knew little about sailing, other than it was something he was immediately drawn to. “After I bought the boat, I went to the bookstore and purchased a learn-to-sail book,” he said. “I went out there with that book in one hand and the tiller in another. When I got off the water it was like someone had hit me over the head with a hammer, it was so great.”
As a young ad salesman, Steve was also launching his business career. His growing obsession with sailing went hand in hand. He learned celestial navigation, started working as a delivery skipper, made his first offshore passage from Bermuda to Newport. Then came a life-changing moment: a delivery from Connecticut to Maine and back on a Swan 411, a rock-solid cruiser built in Finland. It was the best boat he ever sailed.
Soon, after becoming engaged to his wife, Nancy, they had the wherewithal to buy their own cruising boat. And in one of those “truth-is-stranger-than-fiction” stories, the very same Swan he’d delivered was up for sale. The young couple bought Albireo— appropriately, it’s named after the double star at the lead of the constellation Cygnus the Swan—and Steve started making annual trips aboard her from New England to Sint Maarten, which he fell in love with, so much so that he eventually retired to the island.
There, he joined the Sint Maarten Yacht Club and became “fast friends” with local sailor and businessman Robbie Ferron. Robbie was aware of Steve’s marketing background, so when Robbie mentioned to him that multihulls were “the wave of the future” and the club should launch an event around them, Steve was intrigued. “I’m in!” he said.
Another local skipper, Petro Jonker, became the third member of the steering committee. And in 2019, the first CMC was successfully launched. The event is here stay.
A year away from his 80th birthday, Steve and Nancy are still sailing Albireo. “We double- hand her,” said Steve. “It’s keeping me young.”
And so, perhaps, is the CMC. “After all these years, I ended up in the marine industry,” he laughs. “I’m one of three guys volunteering to organize the event alongside the staff of the St. Maarten Yacht Club. Robbie handles the racing, Petro knows everybody and makes things happen. And to me, it’s like a full-time job. And I love it. I’m very proud.”