By Herb McCormick
With a blazing lap around St. Maarten putting the exclamation point on three days of flat-out, near flawless sailing, Greg Slyngstad’s Bieker 53, Fujin, captured the third and final race of the first-ever Caribbean Multihull Challenge today to win Class A in dominating fashion. Fujin’s mighty efforts earned her the honor of the regatta’s Most Worthy Performance, for which owner Slyngstad was awarded with a new timepiece from the CMC sponsor Oris Watches, the Official Timekeeper of the event.
“Fujin’s time of 2 hours, 25 minutes in today’s round-the island race was outstanding,” said race chairman Robbie Ferron. “Remember, this is a 53-foot yacht with reasonably good accommodations. That time would be impressive for a much larger multihull without cruising amenities. It’s a very impressive machine. Looking at the boat’s track, you can see they made all the right moves. And of course, they have some very good sailors aboard, and it shows.” To top it off, Fujin, with her distinctive bows and handsome lines, was also named the Most Innovative Design for the inaugural edition of the CMC.
However, Fujin was not the day’s only big winner. With her third straight Class B victory in three days of racing, the Joubert/Nivelt-designed 53-footer Arawak, flying sails emblazoned with the Island Water World logo, was recognized for Sunday’s Most Worthy Performance. For her impressive victory, Arawak’s crew also took home a brand-new Oris Watch.
“I’ve been watching Arawak the last couple of years,” said Ferron. “When they started racing they didn’t have the level of success they have now. To realize that potential takes talent and experience, and they have that now.”
Arawak’s main competitor in Class B, the second-place finisher Tryst, is a Caribbean icon that celebrated her 50th birthday this week with a podium finish. Fittingly, skipper Bernard “Appie” Stoutenbeek will have something special to remember this regatta for, as his Tryst earned the CMC’s prestigious Style and Grace prize. “It’s an amazing little boat,” said Ferron, noting that Tryst has been rebuilt a couple of times after sustaining major damage in hurricanes. “Everyone thinks she’s a goner and she just keeps coming back.” The day’s final special honor went to Stephen Glyn Bourne, the skipper of the Rapido 60 trimaran, Ineffable, who was feted as Furthest Traveled to the CMC; after all, Ineffable’s homeport is Hong Kong!
The Caribbean Multihull Challenge wasn’t just about the flash yachts, however, a point Ferron made while speaking about the top two boats in Class C. Both the winner, Kidz at Sea, and the runner-up, Seaduction, are Leopard yachts built in South Africa by Robertson & Caine. Leopards are fixtures in charter boat fleets around the world, as are boats like Class C’s Hey Jude, a Lagoon 410, and Primula, a Fountaine Pajot Belize 43.
“It sends a good message, and goes to prove one of the points we wanted to make with the event,” said Ferron. “Even these production boats, or charter boats, can go very well with good sailors aboard. You can really enjoy racing them and you can do pretty darn well. The CMC isn’t just about the flash yachts like Fujin. The event has shown that the multihull world and this regatta is a very inclusive one.”
The CMC wasn’t just about racing, either. On Saturday, following the on-the-water competition, the sailors gathered on Kim Sha beach for beach games and a barbecue sponsored by the Buccaneer Beach Bar. Another regatta sponsor, Mt. Gay Rum, provided the distinctive red hats coveted by sailors all over the planet. The event aims for fun on the water and ashore.
The final day of racing on Sunday was conducted in the best breeze of the regatta, a steady 15-18 knots of fresh easterly trades with gusts into the 20s. The race committee sent the two racing classes, Class A and Class B, on the traditional, classic round-the-island race. Class B, for performance cruisers, sailed a shorter but still challenging course from Simpson Bay to Blowing Rocks, then a zig-zag to Marigot and back to Blowing Rocks before returning to Simpson Bay.
It was a fine day of excellent sailing, and a fitting conclusion to the first Caribbean Multihull Challenge. And following it, race organizers announced dates for the second running of the CMC, to take place from February 14-16, 2020. The bar has been set high after the inaugural event. It will be nothing but fun trying to raise it.