Feb 06, 2022, Herb McCormick
Above: Competitor CMC: Cry Baby. Photo Credit Laurens Morel / Salty Colours.
Simpson Bay, St Maarten, February 5, 2022: They dart to windward like skittish water bugs, spinning through tacks and jibes with speed and precision. Off the breeze, with kites set and windward hulls lifted, they often seem on a razor’s edge between control and disaster. We’re talking about the CSA 3 class in this fourth edition of the Caribbean Multihull Challenge—a division dedicated to the regatta’s five trimarans—and on the second wild and windy day of racing, with easterly trade winds settled in the high teens, they put on a show.
Three of the tris are one-design Diam 24s, a recent and growing class in the bustling St. Maarten sailing scene. Though new to the island, they’ve made their impressive mark wherever they’ve sailed. Designed by the wizards at VPLP—the French design consortium well known for America’s Cup winners and offshore thoroughbred catamarans and trimarans—the boat was named overall winner in Sailing World magazine’s 2017 Boat of the Year contest. And it has also been the featured design in the French endurance racing series, the Tour de France a la Voile.
“We had three boats delivered to St. Maarten in early December, and we have been racing them ever since,” said Pierre Altier, the skipper of the Diam 24 Cry Baby, prior to the event. “They are very easy to sail. You get an amazing sensation right way. You can sail them in a family cruise or a high-competition race.”
There was high competition indeed in today’s pair of races in CSA 3, the first being a blast from Simpson Bay to Marigot—a fitting turning mark as the French town is the spiritual center of the burgeoning Diam fleet—and back. On the opening reach down the island’s south coast, the Diam 24 Air Nest, fittingly, caught some big air, almost flipping before skipper Sylvain Corroy got her under control.
Competitor Tryst. Photo Credit Laurens Morel / Salty Colours.
But CSA 3 was not the sole domain of the Diam 24 tris, it also included the classic red Dick Newick-designed Tryst, as well as Marcos Sirota’s pretty Corsair 37, Honey Badger. As the Diam 24’s battled one another, Tryst and Honey Badger engaged in their own separate match race.
Ultimately, in the first race, it almost wasn’t a fair fight: Tryst and helmsman “Appie” Stoutenbeek know these waters like the back of their hand, as was evident when they charged to the finish line in Simpson Bay totally in the groove. “He learned everything from me!” said press boat driver Paul Stoutenbeek…father of Tryst’s co-skipper (with fellow islander Arthur Banting). “Happy Appie,” he called his son, an apt description as he mugged for the cameras in Simpson Bay.
When the spray settled, with a first and second for the day, Air Nest was atop the leader board, with Cry Baby second and Tryst third.
Competitor Nemo: Tryst. Photo Credit Laurens Morel / Salty Colours.
In CSA 1, with a pair of scheduled races—the first a quick one along St. Maarten’s southern shore, the second the classic round-the-island contest—the highly anticipated second act in the Brother vs. Brother duel between Fujin’s Greg Slyngstad and Nemo’s Todd Slyngstad unfortunately failed to materialize. The reason? A failed headboard on Fujin’s mainsail early in the first race, which forced them to retire from that one and head in to the sailmaker while the second commenced.
“The webbing on the sail failed,” said Fujin’s Jonathan McKee, the America’s Cup veteran and Olympic medalist who is a member of the Bieker 53’s talented crew. “But we’re still in it, we just need to get in two races tomorrow. We’ll be back.”
Competitor CMC: 2 2 Tango. Photo Credit Laurens Morel / Salty Colours.
With Fujin sidelined, Nemo flew unaccompanied around the island at the head of the CSA 1 class, knocking off the course in a blazing 2 hours, 9 minutes to take line honors. But on corrected time, with a pair of bullets in Saturday’s racing, the class lead now firmly belongs to Anthony McVeigh’s Schionning 51C, 2 2 Tango.
CMC Competitor Spelbound. Photo Credit Laurens Morel, Salty Colours.
The CSA 2 class of Leopard catamarans were also sent around the island on Saturday in the division’s sole contest. As in CSA 1, there was another unfortunate retirement when Georges Coutu’s Leopard 50, La Novia, was forced to the sidelines with a reported broken headsail halyard. That left longtime friends and rivals Petro Jonker (the Leopard 47 Seaduction) and Ian Martin (the Leopard 45 Catamaran Guru Brokers) to battle it out. With a first in the round-the-island race—his second victory in the event thus far—it was Martin and his team of local waterman at the top of the CSA 2 charts with the final day of racing left to decide it all.
CMC Competitor La Novia. Photo Credit Laurens Morel, Salty Colours.