International Liquors, Trading and Tobacco (ILTT) Managing Director John Leone cleverly kept the audience in suspense, drawing out some wild guesses such as Rihanna, before actually announcing the name UB40 to enthusiastic applause.
The sponsor party is the annual show of appreciation for the many companies that contribute to the success of the Regatta, without which it would not have achieved the success that it has.
Steering Committee Chairman John Gifford, in his seventh year as Chairman, said: “It’s an island-wide effort. I don’t know how we pull it off every year to the level that we do, but one thing I do know – the support from the sponsors is crucial and it’s often difficult to find the money. You people here are the economic engine of the Regatta. Without you we would never have got this far.”
Regatta Director Michelle van der Werff, in her second year as Director, also credited the sponsors for their loyal support of the regatta year after year. She introduced her own back-office staff who play a very important role in keeping the wheels turning. Race Director Paul Miller was also introduced.
“We’ve added an extra day onto the Heineken Regatta on Monday so all the class winners will be invited to race on one-design boats for the honour of being the Heineken Star of the event. This will all take place in Baie Nettle in a laid-back spectator-friendly atmosphere, with music, deejay, and live commentary, and party afterwards,” Van der Werff disclosed.
“This year we are offering all-inclusive packages to our competitors, starting off small. We are starting with the Beach Cat class because they are a group of boats that need special attention. The packages include accommodation, transportation from Europe to here, breakfast and dinners, welcome party, security for boats overnight. We want to make it as safe and easy as possible to bring these people here. We hope it will be a success and we can extend it to other classes.”
UB40 is confirmed as the headline act for the evening of March 5. UB40, featuring Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue will close out the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta’s four days of professional sailing and four nights of amazing music festivities. Organisers expect a large turnout for this distinguished band, which will bring to the stage tunes that are sure to bring back memories.
UB40 was founded in 1979 and enjoyed an incredibly successful run of hits through 2008. Ali, Astro and Mickey were all founding members of the renowned band and after briefly going their separate ways they reunited in 2013 to bring back the authentic sounds of UB40 to their fans. The cover of Neil Diamond’s “Red Red Wine” and Elvis’ “(I can’t help) Falling in Love With You” sent them to the top of the charts back in the 1980s and escalated them into household names across the globe.
UB40 brings to the stage decades of experience and music that spreads across generations. They performed at the Free Mandela Concert at Wembley stadium in 1988 and a decade later played for an estimated 1,000,000 viewers during the Bollywood awards in India. Their passion and talent reach beyond borders and cultures and remain as favourites on global playlists. They recently released their new album “Silhouette” featuring a mix of new songs and reggae-fied cover versions of legends like The Beatles and Bob Dylan.
Leone stated, “We are extremely excited to bring UB40 to St. Maarten and the Caribbean. UB40 are legendary professionals who will help to create an amazing night for all concert-goers, including the regatta participants, the island residents and our visitors. This is the first time that UB40 will play in St. Maarten and we are certain the show will be legendary!”
Entrance to the performance on Sunday will be free of charge to regatta sailors and official active volunteers of the 2017 regatta. Performers for the remaining evenings will be announced in the coming weeks. The line-up promises to be an exciting mix of international and local bands.
Thursday’s opening night will be held at Princess Port de Plaisance Resort and Casino and should draw a large sailing crowd as participants arrive on island earlier in the week. Friday will take the audience to Philipsburg for performances on Boardwalk Boulevard and the remainder of the weekend will see all performers taking the stage in Simpson Bay on Kim Sha Beach.
To keep up to date with the regatta news and for more information on the bands, “like” the regatta Facebook page and check the website regularly. There are less than 80 days to go until the first horn sounds, so stay tuned for more great news in the coming weeks.
For VIP tickets, ticketing and information about the show, contact the Regatta Office at