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The first official interaction that many racers will have with the 34th annual Heineken Regatta is on Wednesday or Thursday, when they appear at the St Maarten Yacht Club to register.  Since 2008, Deborah Miller has been working very hard each year to make that experience as smooth and snag-free as possible. From the long and tight registration station, she oversees a process of five or six sequential steps in a period of time that gets registering racers to their goodie bags with minimal delay.

Most participants have pre-registered online, so the 1st step is to check & confirm the entry details at Window 1 and be greeted, possibly, by Deborah's husband Paul, the developer of the regatta's entry, handicapping, scoring, and advanced, reporting system. Racers give their boat's name, which is checked on the system. When found, it is determined if the payment has been made. If so, a receipt is provided and the second window is skipped, moving directly to the third. Here, the entrant receives the full packet of key information and other items, including sailing instructions, course maps and the back stay class flag. If the payment is outstanding, payment is made and receipt received at window two, before moving to the final stage. With over 200 boats to be signed in, Deborah's preparation and organization helps ensure a smooth couple of days, as prelude to the excitement to follow, without unpleasant impediments, like long lines, intruding.

With a law degree from Southampton University, Isle of Wight resident Deborah spends a fair bit of time around Caribbean regattas, with Paul, whose business is to develop entry/results systems for regattas. She was not always so fully engaged in sailing and spent a number of years in London, as a lawyer for major music publishing and record companies, her last position being SVP Business Affairs for EMI Music Publishing UK. When asked what she would like non-racers & spectators to know about the regatta, it was clear that Deborah had actually thought quite a bit about just that and, then did something about it. She developed a spectator's guide to regattas and has posted it on regattaguru.com to help folks get the most out of their regatta experiences. She also points out that, while it is fantastic that the volunteer crew at the Heineken Regatta is robust and dedicated, it would also be great if some of them who are on island supported the many other regattas run by St Maarten Yacht Club throughout the year. Volunteers for these events are also needed, much appreciated & can learn about race management. Like so many who help keep the regatta ticking, Deborah loves seeing the regular racers, year after year, as well as the other volunteers and the great fun and accomplishments they share together each year.

John Merritt followed all our volunteers round during the regatta this year to find out more about them. This article is one of many that he wrote and we are very grateful for the voice he has given our wonderful volunteers especiallly as he was a volunteer himself.

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