Wind! Speed! Smiles! And….. Action! All was in place for the final day of the third annual Caribbean
Race day 2, sponsored by Oris Swiss watches, and the final day of the third annual Caribbean Multihull Challenge. This weekend was full of action, with lots of tactical decisions and more than anything, a ton of fun. It was handicap racing at its best with a full mixture of boats in the racing class, with most boats taking a first at one point during the weekend.
Tryst, a Dick Newick, Trice II, took the win in the Racing class and Aravilla/Maritime School West Indies came out as the big winner, winning first place in the Cruising class and taking home the First Place Leopard trophy and Winner Overall.
Today the wind was on, with gusts up to the mid-twenties, the big cats were excited to get to the starting area, the smaller boats arrived slightly more anxious. Race committee made a fantastic call and kept the whole fleet on the leeward side for the first race, sending both classes to Marigot Bay and back. A second race was only sailed by the racing class, taking them to Proselyte Reef off Philipsburg, up to Plum Point and back to Simpson Bay.
In racing class Arawak’s Rodney Williams and Francois Nel were looking for better wind conditions after yesterday’s race, and they got what they asked for. With a recorded 22 knots as fastest boat speed this Custom Joubert/Nivelt 52 kept up admirably with the HH66 Nemo all the way to Plum Point. Still, after an hour and 45 minutes of racing, Nemo took a lead of approximately 3 miles, showing the true speed of this luxury racing Super Cat. Arawak wasn’t in the least disappointed. “We had a beautiful time out on the water this weekend, but today was really our type of sailing. The second race out to Proselyte was intense, but we still had a lot of fun racing it. Our class was really a mixture of brilliant boats, each with their own ups and downs. We were in particular impressed by Le Tri, they showed some impressive racing skills this weekend.” Concluded Rodney and Francois at prize giving.
The first leg of the race saw another marvelous start of Le Tri, with Nemo close behind. It didn’t take long before Nemo settled in, filled its sails and simply took off! Le Tri was no match for the 20 knots that Nemo produced in mere minutes and quickly was overtaken, leaving it ready for its day long battle with Jetwave Avalon. The first mark was quickly rounded by Nemo and Arawak, followed by Le Tri and Jetwave Avalon. Enola had to put in an extra tack to make the mark before it could set off for Plum Bay, giving Tryst a chance to close the gap.
In these windy conditions the boat to watch was of course HH66 Nemo. It is hard to imagine that she came straight from the production factory to Sint Maarten and sailed her first race yesterday morning. With the fastest recorded speed of 27 knots, this boat is designed to outperform anything of equivalent size and class - anywhere. Owner Todd Slyngstad had a delighted look on his face as he was shown some of the footage of earlier that day. He explained: “After 2 days of trials, we started Nemo’s very first race on Saturday morning. The biggest challenge is figuring out the crew work, like communications and maneuvering. I am working with a new crew and it needs to become a solid team to be able to race the Caribbean circuit. The highlight this weekend was being able to race a regatta, these are different times we are living in and to be able to be out on the water, sailing in these beautiful waters is just such fun.”
While Nemo and Arawak were flying around the course, Jetwave Avalon and Le Tri kept yesterday’s game of cat and mouse up all throughout race 1 with Jetwave Avalon crossing the finish less than a minute ahead of Le Tri. The smaller multihulls, Enola and Tryst sailed well, and the crews worked hard to make the boats perform. Enola experienced some breakages in race 1 that made them decide to retire from race 2. Although Tryst, the sweet red Newick tri, suffered its own challenges with the jib halyard, resulting in having to send Artur Banting up the mast mid-race, they did a quick fix before the start of race 2, only to find out that the jib sheet had a double wrap with which they had to complete the second race. “It was a challenging day for us, with lots of things going on, so we had to stay focused. The trick to sailing in heavy winds with Tryst is upwind pinching, it puts us about 10 degrees higher and giving us a real benefit. Of course, sailing this way takes great focus because it quickly goes wrong. I didn’t know I had it in me, but it definitely paid off this weekend.” Explained skipper Appie Stoutenbeek.
Paid off it did, making them the winner of the Racing Class. Sailing with 4 kids from the youth sailing program, Caii Banting, Emma Lennox, Skylar Peterson and Justin Pieterse, the smiles and waves were seen all throughout the weekend, but never were they as radiant as when they were called forward to collect the class win. Placing her ahead of Le Tri in second place and Arawak in third.
In cruising class, the competition between the Leopards 46 and 47 Aravilla/Maritime School West Indies and Seaduction continued. On the first leg Aravilla/Maritime School West Indies took the lead but having to tack back to make the first mark, Seaduction gained and quickly took over the lead. By the time the boats sailed into Marigot Bay, Seaduction had increased the lead significantly and looking good for the win. Unfortunately, a tactical error caused them to round the mark from Port, rather than Starboard, allowing Aravilla/Maritime School West Indies to get back into the race. Back in Simpson Bay both boats were surfing down the waves at 12 knots. Seaduction took the finish, but Aravilla/Maritime School West took the win on corrected time, placing her first overall.
Prize giving took place at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club. After elaborate praise for the race committee, volunteers, and sponsors, it was time to hand out the good stuff, also known as trophies. Although not placing in the top 3, Jetwave Avalon and Nemo were both awarded for making the effort to bring their boats to St. Maarten and compete. Nemo took line honours on all four races and Jetwave Avalon never gave up, even after multiple breakages, they kept sailing hard. Finally, the Overall Winner was announced, which went to Aravilla/Maritime School West Indies. With all bullets, and overall great performance, it was truly a well-deserved win. This weekend it was emphasized again that production cruisers like the Leopard brand can most certainly compete competitively out on the racecourse and the Caribbean Multihull Challenge is the perfect platform to showcase it.
The Caribbean Multihull Challenge was the first international Regatta of the Caribbean circuit to take place. Having faced the challenges that COVID-19 brought along with it, organizers have shown resilience and are ready to come back with more spectacular racing next year February 4 – 6, 2022.