17/11/11Duel Of The Titans
• Perfect conditions
• Two races open the Saint Barth Cata Cup
• Mischa Heemskerk, John Casey, and Patrick Demesmaeker in the lead
Held on by foot straps, harnessed to the trapeze, trimming their spinnakers as if their lives depended on it, eyes riveted on the multicolored buoys, the racers in the Saint Barth Cata Cup confronted the tropical waves with big smiles on their faces. On day one of the regatta, the bay of Saint Jean was a veritable paradise for the 50 competing duos. The conditions were ideal with winds at 12 knots, ocean waters of 80°F, and some great competition. “The conditions were ideal,” confirms Nicolas Cau, helmsman of Tiger “St Barth Sailing". A former member of the French team for the 49er Series, Cau is now a confirmed fan of the Formula 18 class. “The décor, like the weather, is perfect! The boat provides superb action, the races are the perfect length, very tactical, and the level of racing is high,” he adds. “We thought we were coming here on a vacation, but it’s really challenging physically. After the first day, all I can say is that this regatta is pure magic!”
After a false start, the 50 boats participated in the first afternoon race of 10 miles. From the get-go, the heavyweights in the race took total control. With two boats way up front, the first race was a duel between Dutchman Mischa Heemskerk, the Formula 18 world vice-champion, and American John Casey, specialist of long-distance catamaran racing and winner of the 2010 Saint Barth Cata Cup. Heemskerk’s Cirrus R “Emeraude Plage” and Casey’s Nacra “Intendant Villa Services” were nose-to-nose at the start of the race. It was sailing downwind with spinnakers unfurled that the Dutchman and the American really showed their stuff. Far ahead by many lengths, the two multi-hulls continued to leave the competition further and further behind. “It was really great,” says Heemskerk. “Not only are we having fun out on the water, but we had good starts, got some good speed going, and the conditions were ideal, just how I like them. The wind was perfect, everyone could sail without any difficulty.”
The second race of the day was like a remake of the first one. But John Casey ceded second place to Morbihannais Gurvan Bontemps “Re/Max,” with the two Cirrus R cats way ahead of the rest of the flotilla. The Belgian team of Patrick Demesmaeker and Olivier Gagliani “St Barth Isle de France,” came in fourth in the first race and fifth in the second, completing the winners’ circle in third place. The top West Indies team of Enrique Figueroa and Yan Van den Haute “St Barth Sailor” is in sixth place, while Jeff Ledée and Vincent Jordil “Avis,” were sixth after the first race but lost out in the second race after breaking their jib halyward, putting them in seventeenth place.
The schedule :
Monday, November 14: Arrival of participants
Tuesday, November 15: Assembly of boats and sailing to Saint Jean
Wednesday, November 16: Registration and free sailing
Thursday, November 17: First race of the day at 2:00pm
Friday, November 18: First race of the day at 9:30am
Saturday, November 19: First race of the day at 9:30am
Sunday, November 20: First race of the day at 9:30am; Awards ceremony at 5:00pm
Monday, November 21: At 9:00am, start of informal race to Pinel
With strict design specifications, the Formula 18 boats are the kings of racing catamarans. Those who race them are also found on the America’s Cup circuit and important multi-hull sea races. A sport that is high-speed, tactical, technical, and spectacular.
Specifications: Length: 5.52 m; Beam: 2.60 m; Sails: 21.15 m²; Mainsail: 17.00 m²; Jib: 4.15 m²; Spinnaker: 21.00 m²; Weight: 180 kg; Price: approximately 20,000 euros.