Peter Holmberg wins the Budget Marine Match Racing Cup the opening event at the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta
Holmberg and his all-star team including Ben Beer and Maurice Kurg were up against some of the world’s most talented match racing crews at this ISAF-sanctioned Grade 5 event including the likes of Gavin Brady and Peter Isler. Holmberg won two races in the best of three final against Gavin Brady and in doing so secured the top prize. Brady took second place, while Peter Isler, who enjoyed an interesting petit final against Chris Nesbit and his ‘amateur’ team from San Diego, took third.
Holmberg summed up the event: “Nice, eh. It’s a fun event but we always get serious as soon as the start gun’s fired. Gavin is a fun guy to race against and we had some good, close racing out there. I have a good team with me and we work together really well. It’s a great event and we like to support it because it has really raised the interest of the regatta. We’ll certainly be back next year.”
The race of the day had to go to Chris Nesbit and his amateur team who had a dream win against two-times America’s Cup winner Isler in the first race of the petit finals. Nesbit, who has only been on the match racing circuit for the last year or so, sailed a near perfect first beat and after two rounds had extended his lead at the finish to 23 seconds over Isler. Isler praising Nesbit’s performance said: “Chris Nesbit and team sailed really well. I know they’ve been focussing on match racing for the last year or so and been doing a few Grade 2 and Grade 3 events so they clearly have what it takes now.”
In fifth place was Colin Rathbun from the British Virgin Islands, while Marc Fitzgerald who was second in the Budget Marine Match Racing Cup last year had to settle for sixth, but admitted he mucked up with the timing of the event thinking it was taking place on Wednesday. “I’d actually lined up match racing pro Andy Beadsworth to take the helm this year but ended up having to do it myself again. Thankfully it’s really enjoyable, the boats are great to sail because you can really throw them around, and I have a good, fun crew. It’s also such a privilege to be able to sail against some real top ranked pros. It’s a great event and not to be missed.”
The next big event in the run up to the 30th edition of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is the Gill Commodore’s Cup which takes place on Thursday 4 March. This simple, one-day, windward/leeward format event is fast becoming a popular choice for race teams keen to tune up and ‘iron out the kinks’ before the start of the main regatta, and so far there’s a healthy line-up of 48 entries.
1st Peter Holmberg
2nd Gavin Brady
3rd Peter Isler
4th Chris Nesbit
5th Colin Rathbun
6th Marc Fitzgerald
7th Jakub Pawluk
8th Eugeny Nikiforov