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Sint Maarten Youth Sailing in the 42nd St. Maarten Heineken Regatta (Part 1/4)

Sailors from the Sint Maarten Yacht Club Sailing School Participated in the Heineken Regatta in 4 different teams. We have asked them all to share their experience. In this first article Feline Oosterhof is sharing her Regatta experience!

My name is Feline Oosterhof, 11 years old, usually I am racing with my optimist Zorro (with the black sails). I like to share my regatta experience because it was so much fun and full of action. This race was more than just an optimist race. This was the 42nd Heineken Regatta! I raced on my dad’s boat Elena also called Team Sprinto! This season our team worked hard to prepare for this regatta. During the keelboat races we were able to optimize the tuning of our boat.

The first race in the Island Time class, started on day 2 (my dad needed to work during day 1). We went all the way to the East side of the island (course 26). I had never been beyond Fort Amsterdam, so it was quite choppy with a fresh breeze. Just before the start I was flushed by a big wave that splashed over the cabin top, at this point I was awake and ready for a tough day on the water. Upwind we were competing a 45 feet Catamaran and we could surprisingly well keep up with them, sailing higher angles. The part I liked most was the downwind planing while using the waves to hit 13.3 knots: awesome! At least we finished in the top 10.

On day 3 we could sail below the island with less choppy sea, heading for the South-West side of Sint Maarten (course 24). The wind picked up and we decided to reef the main. While heading downwind the rain was approaching and we needed to drop the gennaker. Our average speed dropped too but we wanted to finish the day well in this Island Time class, finishing 8th was the result.

Day 4 was the most exciting. Our start at the pin was sublime: at the gun we tacked and were on top of the whole fleet on port tack, that felt so great! After the windward mark we were surfing on the gusts to the leewardmark: we hit 13 knots even without our gennaker and with the reef still in from the day before: we broke another personal record with our Elena. It was amazing to see the Volvo Ocean racers sailing by so close you could see the underwater foils! After the leeward mark we were surprised by the squall, with a lot of flapping of the jib we slowly went through it, hiking for our lives: I kept thinking: “we need to finish today, no matter what, no matter how!” And so we did: after the squall we finished 3rd in our class, what a regatta!

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 Club is active in promoting the sport, as well as the beautiful destination it is located at. For more information visit

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