Heineken Regatta: the Royal Marina will host the only French-side event

The Heineken Regatta will be held on 3 - 6 March on the Dutch side and will end on 7 March at the Marina Royale.


The famous Heineken Regatta will soon begin its 36th edition. Like last year, the Saint Martin French side will not benefit very much from the event. The reason, a financial disagreement. In 2015, the Organization supposedly asked the Office of Tourism for more than the double of the budget previously granted. Considering that the 35,000€ from the Office was not enough, the organizers cancelled the stop in Marigot and broke the contact. "It’s a shame that an event of this magnitude is not beneficial to both sides of the island," said Kate Richardson, the Tourism Office Director, who will says she is "open to discussion" but confirms not being able to increase the budget.

The financial aspect is apparently not the only point of disagreement. The organizers are said to have disobeyed certain regulations (navigating in the channel in particular during the whale reproduction period). And the warnings reportedly made them leave.

Whatever the reasons, the absence of festivities on the French side represents a considerable lack of revenues. "In previous years, everything was always full. Last year, it was so empty that we could have gone on vacation. All the customers flocked to the Dutch side" recalled Yann Lecam, President of the storekeepers’ association.


"After sail party", an after-event party on the French side

Since then, the Royal Marina restaurant owners’ association has directly negotiated with the Heineken brand, in partnership with the Samagest business owners. Most of the Heineken Regatta participants leave on Tuesday and Wednesday. There was therefore one slot left: on Monday. The lagoon access makes the Marina a choice location. It will thus host on Monday 7 March starting at 5pm, the only French-side event, an after-event party which has been named the "After Sail Party" on the official website.

More than a hundred dinghies are therefore expected in the Marina which should welcome about 1000 people, a boon for the storekeepers and restaurant owners, who are committed to reviving the place. "We could not believe it!" said Yann Lecam who explained: "It became official last week." Inflatable castles and trampolines for children, the installation of at least three bars, a concert by Rocking Band and a mix by DJ Marco… Heineken is paying for everything and will even decorate the Marina. Something which should end this edition with a flourish and save the best for last...


Estelle Gasnet