Simpson Bay, St. Maarten (Feb. 8): In an absolutely ideal 12-14 knot northeast breeze under blue skies flecked with puffy white clouds, 15 boats in three classes set sail today in the first Caribbean Multihull Challenge sponsored by the St. Maarten Yacht Club. For lovers of catamarans and trimarans, it was nothing short of a historic day.
“It’s the best multihull fleet I’ve ever seen in the Caribbean,” said race director Robbie Ferron of the eclectic group of yachts, ranging from flat-out racers to dedicated cruising boats, some competing in their first race ever. “We have some of the better boats in the islands. Our vision of a multihull regatta out of St. Maarten has been solidified.”
For the first race of the new event, principal race officer Andrew Rapley sent the boats on a course that started in Simpson Bay, continued on past Plum Point, and then set forth across the Anguilla Channel before rounding Blowing Rock and returning to a finish line off Plum Point.
Let it be known that in the first start of the first race, the Leopard 45 Kidz at Sea – with an all-local St. Maarten crew of all ages – was the clear leader in Class C. It was a closely contested start and set the tone for a tight race that Kidz at Sea ultimately won, fending off the challenge of another Leopard, Petro Jonkers’ 47-footer Seaduction.
The subsequent Class B and Class A starts were not nearly as tight, and the highlight was the Bieker 53, Fujin, tearing off the line at double-figure boat speeds in an impressive display of speed and prowess. It was even more notable considering that in the boat’s last race, the Caribbean 600 a year ago, Fujin capsized and was dismasted and has since gone through a total refit.
Greg Slyngstad’s 53-foot Fujin was by far the quickest boat around the course today. But when the scores were tallied and the handicaps applied, Fujin was third in Class A, behind the winner, Robert Szustkowski’s HH66, R-Six, and the 50-footer Shooting Star, which took second. The Class B victor was Arawak, a well-sailed Joubert-Nivelt 52 from St. Maarten.
There were some spectacular images captured on the turquoise waters, including the bright-red trimaran Tryst, now celebrating its 50th birthday, trucking along down past the beaches on the island’s southern flank. On a gorgeous day off a spectacular venue, it all made for a day that won’t soon be forgotten.
About the Caribbean Multihull Challenge Sint Maarten:
The Sint Maarten Yacht Club will host the first annual Caribbean Multihull Challenge from February 8-10, 2019. 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.smyc.com/caribbean-multihull-challenge.
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 Club is active in promoting the sport, as well as the beautiful destination it is located at. For more information visit www.smyc.com