By Herb McCormick
Simpson Bay, Sint Maarten: On a day of squally skies, flying spray, challenging tradewinds and deeply reefed mainsails, a pair of well-sailed trimarans from very different eras were the big winners on Day 1 of the second annual Caribbean Multihull Challenge (CMC). In the CSA Multihull 1 class, Brett Trevillian’s sleek, white 53-foot tri Finn sits atop the leader board after two wire-to-wire first-place finishes. And in CSA Multihull 2, the longtime Caribbean campaigner Tryst, a Newick Trice II design, also has a comfortable lead after recording two bullets in the roiled waters off St. Maarten.
Principal race officer Marc van Dongen kept four of the fleet’s five the majority of divisions in the lee of the island, setting a pair of courses of 10- and 14-nautical miles, respectively, for the Multihull 1, 2 and 3 classes, as well as the Pirate Class for cruising multihulls. There were several retirements over the course of the day in the challenging conditions, and a handful of entrants did not make the starts for varying reasons. The latter included the new 50-foot TS5 catamaran Addictive Sailing, recently launched in France and sailed across the Atlantic without mishap, which unfortunately was dismasted in a training session a day before the CMC started.
For the “Big Boat” class of MOCRA Multihulls—which included the MOD 70 trimarans Argo and Maserati, and the Irens-designed tri Shockwave—van Dongen sent the trio on a single 60-nautical mile race around the islands of St. Barths, Tintamarre and St. Maarten. The idea was to establish a record for the “three-island course” that would serve as a benchmark for Grand Prix mulithulls in future editions of the CMC. The highly anticipated contest got off to a fine start but moments after reaching the first turning mark on a powerful reach, Italian skipper Giovanni Soldini’s Maserati put on the brakes, literally and figuratively, by rolling up his headsail and retiring from the race with unspecified damage.
That left a duel between Jason Carroll’s Argo and Jeff Mearing’s and Scott Klodowski’s Shockwave, with the longer Argo taking line honors and establishing the course record of 3h, 19m, 22s. But Shockwave gained a measure of revenge by winning the race on corrected time and taking the lead in the division after Day One.
CSA Multihull 3 was a class comprised of three Leopard cats, the versatile cruiser/racers built in South Africa. Local favorite Ian Martin’s 45-foot Spellbound and George Coutu’s 50-footer La Novia traded 1-2 finishes to sit atop the class in a deadlock for first, as the third member of the trio, the 47-footer Seaduction, retired from both races. The Pirate Class victor was David Slater’s vintage Outremer 45, Delphine, an “old school” catamaran that was well sailed and looked terrific.
There was plenty of action up and down the racecourse throughout the day. Returning after a fine showing in last year’s CMC, Bernard “Appie” Stoutenbeck’s and Arthur Banting’s Tryst put on a fine display of sailing, particularly with a sweet mark rounding in the second race despite a massive header on their final approach. Rodney William’s 52-foot cat Arawak, which dominated her class last year, had a solid day with a pair of seconds in CSA Multihull 1 to sit within striking distance of Finn. And Brit Anthony McVeigh’s 2 2 Tango, with its distinctive paint job of dancers on the hulls, coupled with more dancers on the main and jib, may have been the prettiest boat on the water today. The Schionning 51C sits in third place in CSA Multihull 1 after the first day.