Victory for Paschalidis & Trigonis!
What suspense, what surprises! This fourth day of sailing and the final day of the St. Barth Cata-Cup, which should have identified the leaders and defined the podium, actually played out with an improbable scenario, which was peppered with many comebacks. At one point it seems as if the glory of victory would go to Franck Cammas and Matthieu Vandame (ODP 1), who were at the top of the general classification on the morning of the last two races. Yet the glory finally went to winners Iordanis Paschalidis and Konstantinos Trigonis (Relwen), as their competitors made an error on the course. The Greeks are however far from having stolen their victory. These two sailors were consistently at the front of the pack and turned in a remarkably steady performance in spite of highly variable wind conditions. At the end of the day, they finished with a healthy lead, ahead of, in order, Argentineans Cruz Gonzales Smith – Mariano Heuser (Eden Rock Villa Rental) and Belgians Patrick Demesmaeker – Olivier Gagliani (Les Perles de Saint-Barth).
This final day of competition was already high-pressure due to the very narrow difference in points between the leaders at the start of the last races. Then the race committee decided to spice up the course a little by launching a tour of the island, a race that was the equivalent of two and could not be removed from the overall ratings. “In this context, it was win all or lose all,” declared Franck Cammas before setting out on the waves, on Sunday morning. This helmsman from Aux was right on in his prediction. In the race, perfectly in control of his major adversaries, Greeks Iordanis Paschalidis and Konstantinos Trigonis, the sailor made a big mistake, by missing a race marker a little before Pain de Sucre, in the last third of the race. At the finish line, there was no ambiguity. The jury had discussed and decided on disqualification, for Cammas as well as two other boats also concerned. This was a tough break for the winner of the 2013 edition of Cata Cup, who as a result lost not only first place, but added a total 96 points, which put him 13th place overall. “It’s the luck of the regatta and the rules are the rules. Of course, that it was an unusual end to the race, but it worked out for us. Franck and Matthieu, had, I think, sailed better generally speaking than we did this week, as we made a fair amount of errors that stupidly cost us points, and that we could have avoided, commented Iordanis Paschalidis, happy with a victory that had eluded him until now. “ I had participated in St. Barth Cata-Cup twice with my friend Gustaf Dyrssen and both times, we just missed the podium (editor’s note: they finished 4th in 2012 and 6th in 2016). This year, by coming with my regular F18 teammate, I definitely had an eye on first place. Today, we reached our goal. I am extremely happy. It was a great pleasure to come face to with folks like Franck Cammas and Patrick Demesmaeker, both incredible vice world champions for the class in the past (the first with Jérémie Lagarrigue in 2008 and the latter last summer with avec Gilles Tas), says the helmsman from Relwen, who, with a second and eighth place this Sunday, kept an advantage over the formidable competition and decided to go all out, like the Argentineans Cruz Gonzales Smith and Mariano Heuser. Showing their mastery, the latter duo put on perfect performances for two races (the tour around the island and a short course between Saint-Jean, Toc Vert and Colombier), finishing first and second.
Hell for some, Heaven for others
“It was almost a perfect day and that feels good. On the other days, we didn’t succeed as much as we wanted and we got good starts but then lost places and finished in sixth or eighth place. Today, there was a little more wind (between 10 and 12 knots) and we were more comfortable, but we also let our hair down and sailed less conservatively than on the other days, and didn’t hesitate to take real risks,” notes the helmsman from Eden Rock Villa Rental, who did not hesitate to take risks in the last run of the first race. “That certainly helped us win the around the island race, the most important leg of this St. Barth Cata-Cup in terms of points,” added the Argentinean, who won the Prix Marché U for the best day, and also moved up from eighth place to second place in the overall standings, nose to nose with Patrick Demesmaeker and Olivier Gagliani, winners of the 2015 edition.
“We regret having led the tour around the island for three-quarters of the race, then to be passed by pure speed, with our but that’s the way it is. At the end, for us, it’s a new podium for the St. Barth Cata Cup. It’s a performance we didn’t really expect with such strong competitors. The Greeks were very fast and the Argentineans proved their comprehension of the race courses. We have the satisfaction to have had a perfect day, on Frirday, in winning the two races of the day, and for us that remains an incredible souvenir. What I will also remember from this 10th St. Barth Cata-Cup is obviously the great ambiance, the impeccable organiszation, and the good nature of Nono (Gustave-Honoré Lavali, the president of the race committee. Here’s to the next edition!” concludes Olivier Gagliani.
Penny Wyon, teammate for Le Journal de Saint-Barth (1st mixed team, 15th overall): “We are very happy. Yet it wasn’t easy. We had a little bit of an issue the first days of the race as we had a hole in the boat. As a result, at the end of each race, we finished with 10 liters of water in one of the floaters. That was quite a handicap. Luckily this morning we were able to fix the problem and naturally we did much better. We finished 12th in the tour around the island today. We had a great time. We had already raced in the St. Barth Cata-Cup twice before, and it was superb, but this time was really perfect. A perfect paradise!”
Turenne Laplace, helmsman for West Indies Sails (1st Saint-Barth team, 11th overall): “The result of this St. Barth Cata-Cup is very positive for use. We didn’t expect to finish so high in the ratings so we are very happy. We races in conditions that we like, yet even so, we have the impression to have moved up a notch this year as we were almost always in the front group which represented an incredible level. We sailed well and we able to manage the boat very well. Today, we made two mistakes that cost us quite a bit and without which we would have finished better overall. That was especially true in the race this afternoon. We had a great start and it we weren’t cornered on a forced starboard tack, we could have sailed faster and finished in the top three.”
Éric Bézon, helmsman for Nord Elektron (21st overall): “The day was simply terrific with the tour around the island sailed with enough wind. We finished well for us, so we are happy. This afternoon was a little more unusual but the entire week was very magical. This was our sixth participation in the St. Barth Cata-Cup and we still love it. There were incredible racers, great action, real battles… To sum up, there was absolutely everything we came to find!”