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 second article Sam Peeks and his team are sharing their Regatta experience.
My name is Sam Peeks, I am the racing coach at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club and during the Heineken Regatta me and 4 youth members from the youth sailing program sponsored by the Maritime School of the West Indies got the opportunity to sail a Melges 24 during the 42nd edition of the Sint Maarten Heineken Regatta.
Meet the team:
Alex Speetjens, Laser sailor, 17 years old.
Grace Cheasly, All-round sailor and one of the Sint Maarten Yacht Club's best sailing instructors, 17 years old.
Emma Lennox, Laser sailor, 15 years old.
Justin Pieterse, Laser sailor, 17 years old.
Sam Peeks, 24 years old.
The plan came together about 2 weeks before the Regatta. We didn't sail in this set up before and some of the youth sailors has never having sailed on a Melges 24 before, but we knew we were in for a hard (but fun) time. Our first day together on the boat was during the Heineken Regatta Warmup race on Sunday February 27th. In the first race that day everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. From poor tacks to having the kite in the water during the drop. Having experienced what didn't work we were ready for the second race, and that went way better leaving all the other Melges 24’s behind and finishing second with only the Melges 32 Kick em Jenny ahead of us. This gave us a ton of energy and made us feel a lot more confident for the real regatta coming up.
And there it was, day 1 of the regatta. We got on the boat early leaving a little bit of time for some practice and we were ready to go. Unfortunately are jib was not ready, whilst sailing to the start line our jib pulleys ripped off. Luckily with help from Frits Bus (Melges 24 Team Island Water World) we were able to put another jib on and made it to the start line just in time. During the race we missed a lot of speed on the upwind, luckily this was something we already expected so we didn't give up and kept pushing. We flew back to the finish line on the downwind! We finished 3rd in our class and only 8 seconds behind number 2. We made it to the podium that day!
On day 2 we sailed around the island. Our start was great and we ended up rounding the top mark with 3 Melges 24’s only meters away from each other. Unfortunately during our kite hoist the kite ended up in the water and after that we realized our tack line was not rigged properly which meant we were unable to gybe. Rounding mark 4 at Baie aux Prunes we were right next to Melges 24 team Caraibes Diesel / CV Friars Bay. Unfortunately Team F.K.G. and Team Island Water World 2 took off already and were very far ahead. We sailed all the way around the island switching places with Caraibes Diesel / CV Friars Bay, not being more then a 100 meters apart which made it a very nice and competitive race and luckily we finished just ahead of them.
Day 3 and 4 did not go how we wanted it to go, on day 3 we ripped our jib just before the start so we were unable to start. On day 4 there was so much wind that we broached and after that we called it a day.
Overall we had a great experience sailing in the 42nd edition of the Sint Maarten Heineken Regatta. The whole team learned a lot and for me it was really great seeing everybody progress and improve individually but also as a team. We would like to thank The Maritime School of the west indies and the Sint Maarten Yacht club for sponsoring us and Frits Bus for letting us use the boat.
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 www.smyc.com