“The day was complicated because we knew that the result of the only race of the day was going to determine the final results. There was clearly a little pressure when we set out this morning, and we already felt it on the starting line. We had an okay start, and we rounded the first mark in eighth or tenth place. After that, we fought like devils to even the score, especially because Gurvan and Benjamin were extremely well positioned in second place,” comments Cruz Gonzales Smith, who then went into overdrive and staged a forceful return to the front of the fleet. “Wecame back due to good downwind speed, as well as good choices in terms of placement, especially close to the island of Fourchue. After that, we took command of the fleet but fell into a dead spot with no wind and had to push really hard to remain the leader. The guys on Stickerman really put the pressure on us. We were able to minimize the risks and control them right to the finish,” adds the Argentinean skipper, happy to have won the race of day as well as the “SUPER U” Prize and the final victory for the overall regatta. “After being on the podium in 2017 and 2019 (second and third place), we were definitely focused on victory this year. We succeeded and that closes our F18 season in the best possible way,” notes the South American, who had an almost perfect year in 2021,with a world vice-champion titleas well as a national championship title and second place in the American championship.
“We are super happy to have won this year’s St. Barth Cata Cup, which has eluded us until now, and it means even more as the race was really close right to the end,” points out Cruz, who won with two points ahead of Gurvan Bontemps – Benjamin Amiot,and five points ahead of Patrick Demesmaeker – Olivier Gagliani.
“In starting out for the final race, we knew that we would finish in at least third place, and finish on the podium, as in any case our worst performance for the week was a sixth place. We benefitted from a joker and our strategy was clear: to attack!,” says Benjamin Amiot of Stickerman, who was in the front group of this final regatta before seeing the Argentineans come back like a rocket under spinnaker, primarily thanks to the choice of a good route closer to Fourchue. “They profited from more wind and they were frequently out in front.After that we didn’t have any strong options and were not in a position to come back. They played it smart and we would have had to succeed in intertwining a boat between them and us in order to try and get ahead,” explains Amiot, who had real hopes of standing on the top step of the podium for this 13thedition,after placing second in 2019 and 2016, and a third place in 2018. “We would have liked to win, but we had an extraordinary week in SaintBarth. The sailing conditions were incredible, including the last day of the regatta, with a good dozen knots of wind. We had a great time, and for the title, there is only one solution: come back!”
Patrick Demesmaeker and Olivier Gagliani are feeling emotional as well, as they had the most to lose on the final day. First in the provisional rankings after the first five races, the Belgians had an incredible opportunity to once again to be in the winners’ circle for this race and be the first to win the title for a third time. Unfortunately, the two teammates only placed 10th on Sunday, their worst race of the week. “We did not get a very fast start as we were quickly caught by the Argentineans who were by our side. To disengage, we made a move but found ourselves in a calm spot. That caused us to drop to 21st position at the first marker.We had better luck at Boulanger by staying close to the coast and take advantage of the site, which we did not have the presence of mind to do before Toc Vers and at Chevreau. But this allowed us to rejoin the head of the fleet but not enough to pull out front. We kept trying right to the final stretch, and we are obviously a little sad as we would have really liked to have won that third title. That said, we are aware that to have be on the podium for the fifth time is an accomplishment, in light of the high level of the competition,” notes Olivier, who has already promised to come back for the 12th time in 2022. Mark your calendars!