Sailors Jeff Ledée and Vincent Jordil from Saint Barth traveled to Long Beach, California, for the Formula 18 catamaran world championships in September. Two of the organizers of the Saint Barth Cata Cup, Ledée and Jordil did better than last year, and were one of only two boats from the Caribbean. (The other featured Enrique Figeroa from Puerto Rico, who also participates in the Saint Barth Cata Cup.)
“There are two flights, gold and silver, with 120 boats competing,” explains Ledée, who notes that last year he and Jordil placed 70th but this year improved to 65th overall, or sixth in the silver flight, although they were hoping to finish in the gold group. “Last year, we had a boat we didn’t really know and that was a handicap. This year we bought a new boat exactly like the one we have in Saint Barth, which was an advantage.”
The water conditions threw them a curveball, as the sea was flat but tricky with the large number of boats causing a lot of close, high waves. “This kind of navigation was harder than we thought,” adds Ledée, who says they did their best when winds were as high as 17 knots.
Meanwhile, in Saint Barth, registrations for the 2012 Cata Cup (November 16th-18th) got underway and filled within 48 hours of opening, with an expected 55 boats heading for the start line. Some of the Formula 18 cats were sent directly to Saint Barth from Long Beach, by way of Miami, including Ledée and Jordil’s new boat, Saint Barth Attitude. Many of the champions from Long Beach will be in Saint Barth for the racing, including the winner, Olivier Backes, from France, and last year’s Cata Cup winner, Mischa Heemskerk, from Holland who is returning to defend his title. Another hot competitor is Darren Bundock, skipper of Oracle Team USA in the America’s Cup, raising the benchmark for excellence at the St Barth Cata Cup even higher.
Ledée and Jordil expect boats from Greece, Germany, Italy, France, Finland, Sweden, USA, Canada, Holland, Switzerland, Belgium, Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, Martinique, St Martin/Sint Maarten, and St Barth as the Cata Cup continues to grow in stature. And as the island’s F18 representatives, these sailors are already looking forward to the 2013 F18 world championships in Tuscany, Italy, where they will once again be going for gold.
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.