Simpson Bay, St Maarten: The countdown is almost over. This week, a record-setting fleet of 35 racing and cruising catamarans and trimarans is making final preparations for the 6th annual running of the unique, intriguing Caribbean Multihull Challenge Race and Rally, which will run from February 1-4. Organized by the forward-thinking St. Maarten Yacht Club, for the first time ever the event will take place over four days, with dedicated races for the two competitive CSA racing classes, and an island-hopping rally for the cruising fleet.
For racing sailors, the challenging schedule will include three Distance Races: the 60-nautical-mile St. Barth’s Sprint sponsored by FKG Rigging; the Around Saba Dash sponsored by the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau; and the highly anticipated Circle Race around the island sponsored by Amstel Bright Beer. The fourth day of racing will conclude with a series of buoy races along the island’s beautiful southern shoreline.
There are several heavyweights vying for the Trifecta Award for the offshore contests, including CMC veterans Todd Slyngstad on the HH66, Nemo, and Richard Pavoncelli’s crew on the Gunboat 66, Mana. Both teams will be keeping a watchful eye on newcomer Marc Guillemot’s 52-foot MG5 catamaran, Windrift. Guillemot, a professional sailor from France, is a legend in his country, having competed in the Vendee Globe solo round-the-world race, and multiple editions of both the Transat Jacques Vabre and the Route du Rhum. The action promises to be fast and furious.
Competitor Nemo in the 2022 Caribbean Multihull Challenge. Photo Laurens Morel.
Meanwhile, as the big boats duel on the distance races, a highly competitive fleet of 10 Diam 24 trimarans, another record number for the CMC, will be jousting for top honors in the growing one-design fleet.
Competitor Cry Baby – Diam 24 – in the 2023 Caribbean Multihull Challenge
However, the CMC is not only about competition, and for the second year will conduct a Rally for the cruising contingent, which is represented by some of the biggest and best brands in the world, including Catana, Balance, Lagoon, Fountaine Pajot, Voyage and HH. The Rally will set forth from Simpson Bay and include stops on the uninhabited French isle of Tintemarre; an overnight in Great Bay on the island’s Dutch side; another overnight in the lovely marina at Anse Marcel; and a power reach to Gustavia on St. Barth’s before wrapping up the action back in Simpson Bay.
On top of all that, again for the first time, in keeping with the theme of innovation the CMC organizers will be introducing a Time Trial for cruising multihulls for skippers who wish to test their speed and skill in a non-racing format. These trials will take place with destination courses for each Rally layover.
With the trade-winds switched on and an ideal extended forecast in the cards, the 6th CMC is ready for lift off. Let the games begin!
About the Caribbean Multihull Challenge:
The St Maarten Yacht Club will host the sixth annual Caribbean Multihull Challenge Race and Rally from February 1-4, 2024. The event is open to all multihull sailors on racing catamarans and trimarans as well as chartered cats and cruising multis. For more information visit www.caribbeanmultihullchallenge.com.
About the Sint Maarten Yacht Club:
Established in 1980 with the goal to promote sailing on the island of St Maarten. It organizes multiple sailing events throughout the year, with the St Maarten Heineken Regatta as its crown jewel. A youth sailing program stimulates local youngsters to become part of the sailing community, teaching them life skills like team work, perseverance and confidence. Always looking to further develop sailing on St Maarten, the not-for-profit Club is active in promoting the sport, as well as its beautiful island destination. For more information visit www.smyc.com.