There was palpable excitement on St. Jean beach in Saint Barthélemy from November 15th -18th, as 57 sporty Formula 18 catamarans competed in the 2012 Saint Barth Cata Cup. Olympic athletes, world champions, and top names from Europe and the US, made the regatta even more competitive than in the past. Celebrating its fifth anniversary, the Cata Cup, organized by the Saint Barth Multihull Association, has really come of age.
The winners, ‘Kiké’ and ‘Kéki’ Figueroa from Puerto Rico (both are named Enrique Figueroa but not related) won on the final day in the final race. At lunchtime they were tied with John Casey and Dalton Tebo, the 2010 Cata Cup winners who took second place in 2011 and were sailing well again this year.
Back out on the water for the afternoon race, the two adversaries were neck-and-neck.
“During the start of the race, we stayed very close to Casey,” notes Kiké Figueroa, an Olympic champion (he competed in four Olympic games from 1988-2004). “After a good start, we kept our eye on him, but from afar, as our priority was our own race. We could see that he wanted to go fast, but at the end of the regatta we decided to get closer as we neared the buoy. It was very exciting, especially since we were recently racing Formula 16s in Panama City, Florida; we played out the same scenario, and he won. Today it was our turn. But what impressed us the most is the excellence of this regatta – the excellence of the race itineraries, the outstanding soirees, and the kindness of the people of St. Barth. As long as my body can take it, I will return for the Saint Barth Cata Cup.”
Once again second place went to the US team of Casey and Tebo, which must have been a disappointment after fnishing second last year and being so close to the victory this time. But Casey was generous about it all at the awards ceremony and dinner. In a garden restaurant with white fabric floating above the tables, Casey said: “This is the best, the most incredible regatta in the world, there is nothing else like it.”
Third place went to world champions Emmanuel and Vincent Boulogne, twin brothers from France. “I have competed in all five editions of the Cata Cup,” said Emmanuel Boulogne. “This year was the most challenging in terms of the races themselves due to conditions out on the water with unstable winds and well-formed waves.”
Interestingly the first, second, and third place boats were all Cirrus F18 sport catamarans, a company founded by Emmanuel Boulogne in 1996 and represented in the United States by John Casey. “Wins like this really motivate the people who work in the factory,” says Boulogne, who fabricates boats both in France and Thailand. “The Cirrus is a flat, voluminous catamaran that remains on the surface and really rides the waves, which gives it an advantage and makes it much more stable for conditions like those in Saint Barth.”
He adds, “The Cata Cup doesn’t represent the same tension as a world championship, but this year the level was very high. It’s great to sail with people like John Casey and the Figueroas who have a lot of professional experience and are very fair play. St Barth really is a paradise for sailors, there’s no place else like it.”
For additional information and sponsors, visit: www.stbarthcatacup.com
Ellen Lampert-Gréaux lives in Saint Barthélemy where she is editor-in-chief of Harbour Magazine. She writes regularly about entertainment design and technology for Live Design magazine, and about Caribbean architecture for MACO, a Trinidad-based lifestyle magazine.