17/11/11St Barth Cata Cup Sets Sail November 17
• Fourth annual St Barth Cata Cup Gets Underway
• Champions and passionate amateurs
• Technical and tactical races
• Tropical conditions
Registration, checking the rudders, last minute adjustments to the rigging, setting sail to check out the waters in Saint Jean: the participants in the Saint Barth Cata were getting set to line up on the starting line. Champions and amateurs were out on the water to measure, calculate, and test their boats. This year, the world-class Caribbean regatta was “sold-out.” The roster of sailors is like that of an international championship. Even if Australian Darren Bundock, four-time Formula 18 world champion, double silver Olympic medal winner, and seven-time Tornado world champion, was obliged to withdraw due to an Americas Cup commitment, the list of awards won by these racers is nothing to sneeze at. “I am really sorry to miss this Cata Cup,” confirmed Darren Bundock via video. “It is one of the best events in the Caribbean. But I am in San Diego right now with an AC 45, with an eye on the America’s Cup. Yet I am sure I will be there next year and can’t wait for the 2012 edition of the race.”
While the world champion is not here, the Saint Barth Cata Cup is hosting the vice-champion, Mischa Heemskerk from Holland, who is the big favorite. He won the Cata Cup in 2009, and will sail this year on a Cirrus R, the latest in catamarans. But Mischa has to fight off the American contender John Casey, winner in 2010, Gurvan Bontemps, another member of the Cirrus team, Puerto Rican Enrique Figueroa, Ugo Ferrari champion of Italy 2010, and the impressive champ Yvan Bourgnon. The roster comprises three Belgian teams, one from Puerto Rico, two from the US, two from Italy, one from Canada, one from Switzerland, one from Holland, and 13 duos based in metropolitan France.
A tactical, technical race
The flotilla of catamarans will do battle in races that are both tactical and technical, where they have to deal with the currents and swells, obstacles and conditions along the windward coast. “The majority of the races will take place in the bay of Saint Jean, which is a tactical site with variable conditions,” Pierrick Guilbaud, team leader, windsurfer and sailor who has been navigating around St Barth for the past 23 years. With the trade winds the coastal options can be primordial. To the east, by Coupe Gorge and Pointe Milou, we can take advantage of the acceleration of the wind. Out by the little islands of Chevreau, Frégate, and Toc Vers, you have to be careful of the currents. To the west, by the point of Colombier, is where the swells can be challenging.” On Saturday, during the around-the-island race, the teams will be confronted with the counter currents near the point of Toiny. “It’s like a real washing machine, where you can’t afford to make mistakes near the coast,” Guilbaud adds. The Caribbean Sea is a racer’s paradise but the turquoise-blue waves can lead into traps along the leeward coast. Navigation here can be complicated and the leaders often see their competition gaining ground.
Trade Winds and Tropical ConditionsWeather forecast: the racers couldn’t ask for anything better. This week in Saint Barth, the trade winds are present, with northeasterly winds of 15 knots and temperatures over 80°F. Ideal wind conditions which might weaken over the weekend, making the races even more tactical. This world-class regatta owes its great reputation as much to the great roster of racers as it does to its excellent racing conditions. A true nautical dream !
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.