By Herb McCormick
The sport of yacht racing is a game of precision, with the outcome of races often coming down to a matter of minutes and seconds, particularly when handicaps are applied to level the playing field between boats of different sizes and designs. Accurate timekeeping is a must. When the Caribbean Multihull Challenge St. Maarten begins racing in early February, race officials will have an important ally on their side, as the Swiss watchmaker Oris (www.oris.ch) has been named the Official Timekeeper of the Caribbean Multihull Challenge.
Oris’s CEO-North America, V.J. Geronimo, is not a sailor, per se, but he grew up with a dad who is a committed yachtsman, and he knows his way around the water. “I spent a lot of time in St. Maarten with my father and knew about the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta,” he said.
“Oris has been involved with other marine sponsorships, including the Vineyard Cup on Martha’s Vineyard and the Newport International Boat Show in Newport, Rhode Island,” he continued. “We’re trying to raise awareness of the brand in different communities, and became involved with the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.” When the opportunity arose to also be a part of the Caribbean Multihull Challenge, Oris was all in.
One of the last independent Swiss watchmakers, Oris began operations in the town of Hölstein, Switzerland in 1904. There are four different categories of Oris timepieces: diving, motorsports, aviation and culture. The high-quality, waterproof dive pieces are ideal for sailors, as well.
“We make mechanical watches, not quartz watches or anything with batteries,” said Geronimo. “I think mechanical watches relate to sailing. There are faster ways to get across the water than a sailboat, but sailing is more of an art form. Our approach to timekeeping is along those lines.”
As a company, Oris is particularly aware of the environment, especially the water, and has been campaigning for years to protect and conserve the world’s oceans as part of a mission to bring change for the better. In that vein, they have introduced their high-performance Oris Aquis Date Relief watch and partnered with expedition swimmer Ernst Bromeis for a series of swims he will conduct this year to raise awareness about the state of the world’s water.
The Aquis Date Relief watch, says the company, “is inspired by the color and feeling of water. The grey dial recalls the color of a stormy sea, while the watch’s signature diving scale numerals in relief are a reminder of the texture of water, as well as its elemental role in all life.”
For the Caribbean Multihull Challenge, race organizers will need to lay out racecourses to suit a wide variety of catamarans and trimarans. “It’s always a challenge when you have a few high-performance boats and then a big selection of other boats,” said Paul Miller, a longtime race official whose website, regattaguru.com, will be utilized for scoring the CMC. “It’s going to be an interesting challenge to set courses for a 70-foot MOD 70 tri and a 46-foot Leopard cat.”
To level the playing field, boats of different sizes and speeds are assigned a handicap so they can compete on the same courses. And of course, that’s why precise timekeeping is so important. Which is why Oris was such a natural fit to play its part in the first Caribbean Multihull Challenge St. Maarten.
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