Yachting Art Magazine

St. Barth Cata-Cup : In The Starting Blocks!

After a day dedicated to getting the boats ready, confirming registrations, and initial training, the 60 duos participating in the 12th edition of the Cata Cup are ready for some serious competition.

©Pascal Alemany/Michael Gramm
©Pascal Alemany/Michael Gramm
©Pascal Alemany/Michael Gramm

©Pascal Alemany/Michael Gramm

In fact, the first race gets underway at 9.30am on Thursday. The races will get off to an easy start, with winds expected from the west-northwest at about 8-10 knots.

These conditions for those not used to sailing around the island mean the regattas could be highly technical, with site-specific considerations. This could make things challenging even for the more experienced sailors such as current title holders Belgians Patrick Demesmaeker and Olivier Gagliani, Greek Konstantinos Trigonis, or Argentineans  Cruz Gonzales Smith and Mar Iano Heuser, respectively second and third in the last F18 world championships, who all need to keep their eyes wide open and prove their mettle to contain attacks from some pretty fierce competition.

This 12th St. Barth Cata Cup is showing great promise, even if it gets off to a quiet start.  The first races will start with light winds on Thursday, but the good news is that the forecast calls for stronger winds on Friday and Saturday, with an estimated 15 knots, before getting light again on Sunday,” explains Gustave Honoré Lavaly, president of the race committee, who plans on launching the races with a 12-mile itinerary  between the bay of Saint Jean, and the islands of Frégate, Boulanger, and Toc Vert as a first taste.  “This will allow the racers to get their sea legs and for us to rate the fleet”, adds Nono, Lavaly’s nickname.

There are a large number of teams that are regulars at the event, while others are ready to discover the regatta for the first time. This is the case, for example, for Yannis Delvas and Brice Molina (SDBE). Delvas covered the first five editions of the event, providing drone images for the organizers, and has decided to get on the other side of the sails. 

Molina, a former Class8 and Laser racer, was tempted by this regatta for the past two or three years, so they decided to join forces for this year.  “We bought a Cirrus R two months ago, and started to train for F18 at that time,” explain the tandem. 

So what made them decide to embark on this adventure? “The ambiance, the joy of having a great time, but also the opportunity to challenge ourselves with two or three friends on the island,” add the St Barth-based sailors.  “We are clearly far from having the boat totally under control, so the regatta will be great training for us,” state Yannis an d Boris, who are not unhappy about the light winds for the start of the race. “That could be difficult for the “big guys,” add the duo from Saint Barth, who hope they can finish with a fair number of boats behind them.

There are also such last-minute additions as Antoine Rucard and Antoine Martin, respectively associated with Jean-Christophe Mourniac and Orion Martin, who arrived with major ambitions for the 2019 St. Barth Cata Cup 2019. Rucard is the pure product of the emerging talent for sports catamarans  (SL15.5, SL16, Hobie Cat 16, and Nacra 17) and who has an impressive list of wins at age 24,  including first place for young racers at the Mondial Viper 2014, the title of young French champion in F18 in duo with Gildas Le Peutrec, as well as second place in the  Tour de France Voile 2019, without counting his experiences on the Young French Team in the  Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, as well as sailing with GC32 or Flying Phantom. 

Enough said because even if he just replaced Erik Maris aboard Eden Rock Villa Rental, he is not coming just to play the role of an extra. The same is true for Martin, who is replacing Charles Gate, who just became a father. He has a lot riding on his shoulders, as his brother has already stood out in this regatta a few times with his usual partner, most notably during the 2015 edition, where he took second place. To do as well, there is little room for error. And this is especially true this year, as many top names in the world are here to race, and at least ten teams are vying for the victory. Ready for the show?

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