The 12th edition of the St Barth Cata-Cup, organized by the St Barth Multihulls Association, takes place on November 20-24, 2019. There are already 59 racing duos, representing 11 nations, which have confirmed their participation in this competitive event reserved for Formula 18 catamarans.
These include those who never miss this regatta no matter what, a handful of newcomers attracted by the concept and the extremely convivial ambiance of the event, as well as a few super stars who enjoy the high-level island racing, which is as technical as it is idyllic.
Even if the roster seems somewhat diverse, excitement in the battle for the top spot is already mounting. Who will win the title this year? Will Belgians Patrick Demesmaeker and Olivier Gagliani, current champions, be the first team to win a triple play? Or Greek Konstantinos Trigonis, who missed a second victory by a hair in the last edition, will he be back to take top honors with his usual acolyte, Iordanis Paschalidis? Or how about Argentineans Cruz Gonzales Smith and Mariano Heuser, third in the class as the last world championships in July, will they succeed in their quest for the top step on the podium? Or will someone else swoop in for a surprise victory? It’s anyone’s race to win!
© Michael Gramm
The starting gun for the 12th edition of the St Barth Cata-Cup will be fired in less than two months. There are already 59 teams of two signed up to race, proof that this F18 competition continues to be a success. “The St Barth Cata-Cup is now considered a classic. As far as I am concerned, when I do my annual race schedule, this is the first regatta I register for. The timing is good for a lot of professional racers, like me, as it comes at the close of the season. It’s a little like the cherry on the cake to end the year. The level of competition is excellent and the ambiance is super convivial. Not to mention it’s a well- organized regatta. Not to be missed!” insists Gurvan Bontemps, who has signed up for his ninth appearance in the event, sailing once again with Benjamin Amiot—who was absent in 2018. Perfect partners, these two sailors had a great season on the D35 circuit in Switzerland, and are certain to be among those chasing the title, even if the competition promises to be tough.
Benjamin Amiot & Gurvan Bontemps - © Pierrick Contin
It’s been true since the beginning that the St Barth Cata-Cup attracts the best of the current Formula 18 racers, and that holds true again this year with the presence of Argentineans Cruz Gonzales Smith and Mariano Heuser, as well as Konstantinos Trigonis from Greece. The three of them were on the podium at the last F18 world championships in July in Spain, and are logically considered serious competitors, as they have proven to be at the last two Cata Cup editions.
One difference is that this time, Trigonis will not be sailing with Iordanis Paschalidis, but with Marc Pirinoli. “Iordanis will not be in Saint Barth this year, as he is currently training for the Olympics in the Nacra 17 class with Myrto Papadopoulou, and their world championships, qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, is also scheduled in late November in New Zealand. So I will be partnering with Marc, who is very familiar with sports catamarans, and like me, comes from the Tornado catamaran class, on which he represented Italy at the Olympic Games in Barcelona in 1992 and Atlanta in 1996,” explains the Greek sailor, who has already sailed successfully alongside the Italian, as they took second place at the Archipelago Raid in Sweden recently, but will certainly have a hard nut to crack with the large number of great champions they’ll be facing in Saint Barth.
© Michael Gramm
Among these champions, one can cite, amongst others, Jean- Christophe Mourniac, Erik Maris, Emmanuel Boulogne, who has not missed a single edition of the Cata Cup since the first one in 2008 which he won, Coraline Jaunet, Orion Martin, Alexis Rochat, winner of the D35 trophy at the Bol d’Or 2019, as well as Belgians Patrick Demesmaeker and Olivier Gagliani, who are part of the small group of double winners of this regatta along with Dutchmen Misha Heemskerk and Eduard Zanen.
“The St Barth Cata-Cup is a challenge we really enjoy. There is no chance we would miss it, especially as the weather Belgium in November is not as nice (laughs)! It’s also a good pretext to meet up with friends, including the organizers who do everything conceivable to host us, not to mention sail in an idyllic setting and compete against the best on the international stage, and even if today, we have started to get a little rusty, we still have good reflexes,” jokes Olivier Gagliani, who is clearly in better shape than he indicates as seen in his victory at the Raid Emeraude this summer as a duo with Yvan Bourgnon, and his prowess in Classe A. “The triple play? Yes, on paper, that is the dream but it would almost be a hold-up given the roster for this race,” adds the Belgian, who only missed the first edition of the St Barth Cata-Cup, and who knows that each year, the competitors, including the newcomers, are likely to thwart all of the prognostics!
Patrick Demesmaeker and Olivier Gagliani - © Michael Gramm