As I stood on the dock in the fading Caribbean light on February 29 last year, little did I realise that I had arrived at the entryway to 2012′s best yachting bar in the world. I had landed from Boston earlier that afternoon, and with the warm easterly trade winds blowing through my hair and the dock rocking gently beneath my feet, I certainly knew I’d arrived. Enhancing the impression was a cold, glass bottle, distinctively green in hue; therein, I suggest, might lie the key to the Sint Maarten Yacht Club‘s momentous victory.

Sint Maarten YC

Patrons of the open-air bar at Sint Maarten Yacht Club view the parade of sailboats passing under the drawbridge for the start of the St Maarten Regatta, just outside Simpson Bay Lagoon.

Every year, the club helps the entire island host the St Maarten Heineken Regatta, a mega event that brings together high-end racing boats of all sizes and as well as roughly 100 charter sailboats for a long weekend of “Serious Fun.” The clubhouse is perched on the edge of the cut between the well-protected Simpson Bay Lagoon and Simpson Bay itself on the island’s south side, where most of the racing starts or finishes. The open air bar, naturally, has a ringside seat to the array of megayachts that line up for the scheduled drawbridge openings…none more exciting than when the fleet of 200 boats heads to the starting line at the same time!

Although the Yacht Club can’t hold all 2,500 sailors and 1,000 support volunteers, its decks and docks can hold more than you might think as the club hosts parties on both nights of registration. As a result, I have no doubt that in this year’s contest, the club’s high profile, raised further by 30 years of sponsorship by Heineken, helped it earn votes from an international cast of sailors and thereby edge out the Navi Bar of Glucksburg, Germany.

The contest organiser, Scuttlebutt Europe, wrote the official story on the 2013 Favorite Bar contest. And in earlier blogs, such as Favorite Sailors’ Bar Contest Underway, we pointed out the three previous winners. We also highlighted a couple of this year’s contestants which we happen to know well in Favorite Yachting Bar: Bitter End Yacht Club and the Lemon Crash and Favourite Yachting Bar: The King and Queen.

I should add that for the other 51 weeks of the year besides regatta week, the Sint Maarten YC’s location as the first dock on the right when entering Simpson Bay Lagoon is also a key to its No. 1 status. And if you stop in at the bar in 2013, you’ll no doubt find evidence that Favorite Bar contest sponsor Wight Vodka has a rising profile as well. Look for the bottle with five code flags on it, spelling W-I-G-H-T.


Written by: John Burnham
John Burnham is a boat owner, leadership coach, marine writer, editor, and champion sailboat racer. He is the former editor of Sailing World, Cruising World, and