“Serious Fun” on board Volvo 70 Monster Project at the 34th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta!
On Friday the 7th of March the Volvo 70 Monster Project and her crew, the Project Racing Team, took part in the Around the Island Race and had some “Serious Fun” at this year’s spectacular St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. With over 200 boats competing and a whole host of off-water activities to be enjoyed, the Team saw for themselves why this regatta is such a highlight of the Caribbean racing season.
The Project Racing Team was joined by a group of 8 guests for the day, which arrived just two hours before the start only in time for the briefest of introductions to the Volvo 70’s operation. The group, which comprised mostly local St. Maarten residents, included Title Sponsor Heineken’s very own John Leone who remarked during a post-race interview that he was thrilled to have been on board. It was the first time in 10 years of managing Heineken’s distribution and organising all the regatta parties that John had been able to join in the sailing fun. Camera crew from the On Air Media team were also on board and captured some fantastic footage of the day’s racing in a set of four short highlight clips which can be found on the Heineken Regatta website.
In classic Caribbean conditions, easterly trade winds blew a steady 14-18 knots and the race got off to a magnificent start as a record fleet of 211 boats jostled for position on the start line outside Simpson Bay. Skipper Andy Budgen conceded that he sailed conservatively at the start. “We wanted to keep it simple,” he said. After a one-tack beat to the windward mark, Monster Project‘s crew hoisted their A4 asymmetric spinnaker for the downwind run to the southwest corner of the island. Screaming along the island’s east coast on a close reach in just the conditions she was designed for Monster Project topped 20 knots of boat speed before rounding Point Blanche and making for the finish line in Great Bay. “That was pretty good,” said skipper Andy Budgen, in a moment of classic Scottish understatement.
The competition was hot and Monster Project sailed much of the short 33 nautical mile course in close quarters with RP 52 Highland Fling XII. Crossing the finish line with just minutes between them Monster Project took line honours in 2 hours 57minutes and 13 seconds, a fine achievement just seven minutes short of the course record for monohulls set by another Volvo 70 ABN AMRO 1, in 2007. The Dutch boat skippered by New Zealand’s Mike Sanderson was on a victory tour at the time after winning the 2005-2006 Volvo Ocean Race. “Monster Project was proud to compete in the wake of such a record!” said crew boss John McAulay.
The results on handicap for the CSA 1 had Monster Project fourth in class, with Highland Fling XII taking first place on the podium, followed by Ker 43 Otra Vez and RP 78 Idea of London.
As part of her inaugural Caribbean racing season, Monster Project has clocked up a string of successes. First, Line Honours and a new outright record in the Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados Race in January, then 4th across the line in the RORC Caribbean 600 in February and now the Windward Island Bank’s trophy for the Fastest Monohull Around the Island in St. Maarten’s Heineken Regatta in March.
The team’s trimmer and ex-Olympic sailor Petronella De Jong said, “As a team we are very proud of our achievements so far and excited about the last remaining Caribbean racing events before we set off on Monster Project for her return Transatlantic Adventure home to the UK in May. We are particularly looking forward to Les Voiles de St. Barths and Antigua Sailing Week in April.”
Skipper Andy Budgen added, “We have now officially entered Monster Project in Antigua Sailing Week and in the wake of our recent successes with mixed crews in recent events, we have decided to open up the boat to individual or small group charters to allow more people the chance to experience Volvo 70 sailing in the warm tropical waters of the Caribbean!”
For a taste of the fun and excitement of racing on board Monster Project, check out the great video clip – HR 2014 Round the Island Part 2 on YouTube or on the event website. http://www.heinekenregatta.com/Regatta/Videos.aspx