Mischa Heemskerk, nicknamed ‘The Flying Dutchman’ during the fourth annual Saint Barth Cata Cup, took top honors with teammate Eduard Zanen aboard their Cirrus R Formula 18 catamaran. With six races over three days, and with winds from 10 to 15 knots, it was clear from the get-go that Heemskerk had the advantage. Not surprising as he is the F18 world vice-champion, and while not sailing with his usual partner, Bastian Tentij, Heemskerk repeated his 2009 victory in Saint Barth. The only team that gave them a run for their money was the American duo of John Casey and Dalton Tebo, last year’s winners, who had to settle for second place this year.
Held November 16th-20th, the fourth edition of the Saint Barth Cata Cup was the largest yet; the event having grown from 14 F18 teams competing in the first edition, including a world champion, to 35 teams for the second edition, with two world champions. Last year 45, and this year 50 teams registered with 48 actually competing. Officially recognized by the F18 class, this regatta is quickly becoming known as the best catamaran event in the Caribbean.
On November 17th, the first two races took place in the afternoon, and it was immediately clear that the 2011 Cata Cup would be a duel between the Dutchman Heemskerk and American John Casey. Heemskerk’s Cirrus R Emeraude Plage and Casey’s Nacra Intendant Villa Services took a long lead, and continued to leave the competition further and further behind.
“It was really great,” says Heemskerk. “Not only are we having fun out on the water, but we had good starts, got some good speed going, and the conditions were ideal, just how I like them. The wind was perfect; everyone could sail without any difficulty.”
The top West Indies team of Enrique Figueroa and Saint Barth’s own Yan Van den Haute (sponsored by St. Barth Sailor) took first place in the around-the-island race on Saturday, as Americans Casey and Tebo were sadly unable to compete that day following a pre-race collision that damaged their boat. Out on the water with 15 knots of wind, Heemskerk was once again at the head of the flotilla, until he ran into some difficulty between Public and Gustavia and lost time to Figueroa and Van den Haute.
“I had an incredible opportunity to sail with a champion like Enrique,” explains Yan. “On Saturday there was three-way competition with Manu Boulogne and Mischa Heemskerk. It was during the last leg under spinnaker that made the difference for us. We were the only ones to catch a gust of wind and that gave us a solid lead of five minutes. What a thrill.”
Unfortunately Sunday’s races were cancelled due to lack of wind and instead the boats sailed back to the commercial dock to be disassembled and put back into the shipping containers for their return home.
The awards ceremony (with Ernest Brin representing the Port of Gustavia and Nils Dufu for the Collectivity of Saint Barth) was held on Sunday evening at Nikki Beach, which served as race headquarters and was the venue for some evening events including a cocktail party followed by dinner at the Guanahani Hotel & Spa.
Organized by volunteers from the Saint Barth Multi-Hulls Association in collaboration with the Centre Nautique, this event is putting Saint Barth on the map in terms of catamaran racing and the participants were eager to register for next year!
For a complete list of rankings and sponsors, visit: www.stbarthcatacup.com
The Winners Circle:
- Mischa Heemskerk, Eduard Zanen
- John Casey, Dalton Tebo
- Gurvan Bontemps, Guiseppe Dessi
- Enrique Figueroa, Yan Van Den Haute
Ellen Lampert-GrÃ©aux lives in Saint BarthÃ©lemy where she is editor-in-chief of Harbour Magazine. A regular contributor to All At Sea,Â She also writes about entertainment, design and technology for Live Design magazine, and about Caribbean architecture for MACO, a Trinidad-based lifestyle magazine.