Wednesday, May 29, 2013Saint Barth Cata Cup, Paradise For The Formula 18 ClassCrystal clear water, white sands, coconut palms, and light tropical breezes: that describes the island of St Barth, the lustrous pearl of the French Caribbean where the Saint Barth Cata Cup will take place November 18-26, 2013. This regatta has become such a highlight of the Formula 18 class that the registrations for 2013 were completely filled within 8 minutes and 34 seconds after they were opened: a record time that speaks for itself!A Story Of Friendship
The Saint Barth Cata Cup is now in its sixth year and it keeps growing: Every year the number of teams wishing to register increases. "We chose to keep it on a human scale," says Hélène Guilbaud, responsible for land-based organization and communication. "We want to be able to meet and welcome each racer in a personal manner."
In fact, the quality of its welcome and the friendly atmosphere of this event are the basis of its philosophy.
Jeff Lédée, one of the creators of the competition, evokes the moments in which this synergy was established, when the Saint Barth Cata Cup took shape just six years. "Vincent Jordil, Thierry Lhinares, and I were returning from a good day of racing, it was a Saturday afternoon.... We had a lot fun and wanted to share it with sailors from other horizons. To do this, we decided to set up an association, the St Barth Multihull Association. Everyone has a defined role within this structure, but ultimately we all presidents, in one way or another. We debate for hours yet still agree in the end. Nobody wants to be the boss, it's more like a group of family and friends and it really happens like that". Officially, Thierry Lhinares is the president of the association, Jeff Lédée the secretary, and Vincent Jordil the treasurer.
The concept is simple: fifty duos compete for four days on an outstanding body of water: the Bay of Saint Jean, on the north shore of the island, where waters sports are practiced locally. Apart from the races, the schedule includes dinners with feet in the sand, quality concerts, and friendships that have forged over the years.
"A typical day," says Lédée, "starts the morning with breakfast at the race village, then we race until mid-afternoon, we all have lunch together, then relax for a while. The evening dinner is followed by a concert... The course changes every day and every year, except the around-the-island race that is a must. We just change a few buoys. We really have fun!"
Thirty volunteers at sea and ashore contribute to the success of the event organized by the St. Barth Multihull Association and the Nautical Center of Saint Barthélemy (CNSB).
This nautical event attracts amateurs as well as seasoned skippers. Thierry Fouchier is "experienced newcomer" of the event this year. A member of the Artemis Ocean Racing crew for the America's Cup, he is on the list of participants. "I am passionate about small catamarans," says the French sailor. "I have tried to race in the Saint Barth Cata Cup for the past two years, but my schedule never allowed me to. This year is good: the dates are blocked on my schedule! Exceptional people organize this event, and the setting is amazing. They told me it's a paradise for small catamarans ... I could not refuse! My goal is to enjoy the scene and the people ... And to enjoy myself. It is a privilege for me to participate. "
Flawless Logistics For An International Regatta
The Saint Barth Cata Cup is open to all boats in the F18 catamaran class, but the number of teams is limited to 50, according to a distribution "that is not easy to achieve," admits Guilbaud ."We have a quota of 10 French crews, 15 European excluding France, 20 from the West Indies/Americas and the rest of the world." Of the 50 places, five are assigned by the organization.
In the image of the island, the St. Barth Multihull Association and the Nautical Center of Saint Barthélemy want to develop the international side of the event: Greeks, Australians, Swedes, Swiss, Italians, English, Austrians, Germans, Puerto Ricans, Americans, and Canadians...are all on the roster.
The logistics of transporting all these boats is complex but managed competently, in a volunteer manner by some of the participants. Three containers leave Europe in October, another from United States in November, and inter-island cargo for the French West Indies. "The loading of the containers is the real start of the race. The day in which the containers are opened together in Saint Barth is emotional in a way, it seems that everyone finds their toy, they are all so happy!" says Hélène looking at the list of registrants that has just been confirmed... To the delight of some and the misfortune of others who will be forced to try their luck next year.