Feb 05, 2022, Herb McCormick
Above: Competitor CMC: Fujin. Photo Credit Laurens Morel / Salty Colours.
Simpson Bay, St Maarten (February 4, 2022): In a day full of memorable moments, perhaps the most indelible was the smile on Greg Slyngstad’s face. In the marquee matchup on the opening day of racing in the fourth running of the St. Maarten Caribbean Multihull Challenge, Greg’s Bieker 53, Fujin, was the victor in the Caribbean Multihull 60-Mile Sprint, a power reach from the starting line off Simpson Bay, around St. Barth’s, and back to St. Maarten. And in topping the four-boat CSA 1 class, Greg and the team aboard Fujin also beat brother Todd Slyngstad and his talented crew aboard the HH 66, Nemo. “It was Fujin’s conditions,” said Greg, between grins.
Principal race officer Rein Korteknie was uncertain about which day in the three-day regatta he’d send the big-boat fleet on the Sprint. Wind conditions were expected to strengthen on Saturday and Sunday, and he wanted to send the competitors off in optimal conditions. But with the tradewinds pulsing hard out of the northeast, Korteknie decided today would be the day. “Tomorrow they are forecasting more easterly breeze, which would’ve meant more beating and turning the race from 60 nautical miles to 80,” he said. With that, the decision was made, and Fujin and Nemo—along with fellow CSA 1 rivals 2 2 Tango and Arawak—set sail on the Sprint, sponsored by local wizards FKG Marine Rigging and Fabrication.
Competitor CMC: Nemo. Photo Credit Laurens Morel / Salty Colours.
At the outset, which began in light air after a passing morning squall, it appeared Nemo would have the upper hand, and Todd’s 66-footer was first around a short mark set just a few hundred yards to windward of the starting line. But all that changed in a hurry, and the staunch 22-plus knot breezes that filled in were indeed ideal for Fujin once the reaching began.
“Our top speed was 25 or 26 knots,” said Greg, who also remarked that the seaway on the far side of St. Barth’s was “really nasty.” About the duel with Nemo, he said, “They were overpowered. They had too much wind.” Asked to elaborate, he smiled again. “You’d have to ask them,” he said. Still, on elapsed time, it was a close contest, with Fujin and Nemo both completing the course in under four hours, and separated by less than three minutes across the finish line. It’s safe to say this battle of the bros may be just getting started.
Competitor CMC: Seaduction. Photo Credit Laurens Morel / Salty Colours.
Yet another lasting memory will be the three Leopard cats that constitute CSA 2—Petro Jonker’s Seaduction, Georges Coutu’s La Novia, and Ian Martin’s Catamaran Guru Brokers (aka Spellbound) battling their way around the rocky island of Molly Beday, off St. Maarten’s eastern flank, in wild seas in the second of two races sailed today. In both contests, the boats were remarkably close in speed, and it came down to sail tactics and boat handling. When all was said and done, all three boats were tied at the top of the CSA 2 class with four points apiece, and this despite an issue with the jib on Martin’s boat that left it underpowered for a considerable stretch in race two. Local knowledge and close sailing proved key in the class results today.
Competitor CMC: Spelbound. Photo Credit Laurens Morel / Salty Colours.
In the five-boat CSA 3 division—which includes a trio of sporty Diam 24 trimarans that were shipped to the island less just two months ago—another local sailor, Pierre Altier on the Diam Cry Baby, topped the class after a pair of windy races today. In fact, CSA 3 is a fleet full of tris, which include perennial contender Tryst, the classic Dick Newick-design lovingly restored and sailed by Bernard “Appie” Stoutenbeek and Arthur Banting, and Honey Badger, Marcos Sirota’s Corsair 37, which hails all the way from Chesapeake Bay.
Competitor CMC: Diam 24 AIR NEST. Photo Credit Laurens Morel / Salty Colours.
One more lasting image from today must be remembered: another big smile, this one on the salty, soaked face of the CMC’s volunteer Director of Marketing, Stephen Burzon, who spent the day on the photo boat while simultaneously celebrating his 81st birthday. It was a wet, windy and wild one, and with the CMC IV officially underway, as happy as could be.
CMC Competitor La Novia. Photo Credit Laurens Morel, Salty Colours.