The weekend of November 18-22 marked the eighth annual St Barth Cata Cup, a competition for F18 catamarans. Organized locally, the event has attracted attention on an international basis, with competitors from a dozen countries coming to this tiny French Caribbean island to race. In fact the daily and overall winners this year represent five different nations: Belgium, France, Holland, USA, and Argentina. 2015 also marked the first year that teams from Argentina and England were on the Cata Cup roster. The event is based at Nikki Beach restaurant on St Jean Bay.
“Last year, we had very windy conditions sometimes forcing us to cancel races. This year, it was exactly the opposite with very light winds,” explains Didier Flamme, president of the race committee. The wind was so light on Saturday that the classic around the island race was cut short, and sadly some of the boats had to be towed back to the shore.
In spite of the light winds and occasional rain, Belgians Patrick Demesmaeker and Olivier Gagliani put in a steady performance and took top honors. “After seven editions here, the time was right. We are very happy,” says Gagliani. “There is a high level of competition at the Cata Cup and it’s always fun to race against sailors that we have known for years, especially in these exceptional conditions.” Frenchmen Orion Martin and Charles Gaté were hot on their heels for second place, with Gurvan Bontemps and Benjamin Amiot, also from France, placing third. All three teams won watches presented by Diamond Genesis.
The event also features its first-ever counter-clockwise round-the-island race on opening day. The winners were Americans John Casey and Colin Page, with Casey a veteran of the Cata Cup, having won in 2010. Other ‘firsts’ include three consecutive wins for Orion Martin and Charles Gaté on Friday, and a place on the podium on day three for a team from Saint Barth, David Guiheneuc and Noa Turskti, who finished in16th place overall.
The Argentinean team comprising Cruz Gonzales Smith and Mariano Heuser were pleased with their win: “We noticed that the wind was close to the coast, so our strategy was to go to the right to take advantage of it. This simple strategy paid off for us and we kept it for the second race,” explained Cruz.
After earlier editions in 1992, 1993 and 1994, the St. Barth Cata Cup was re-launched in 2008 by Vincent Jordil, Jeff Ledee, and Thierry Lhinares. For additional information: www.stbarthcatacup.com
2015 CATA CUP WINNERS
Overall: Patrick Demesmaeker and Olivier Gagliani (Belgium)
Prix Marché U: Cruz Gonzalez Smith, Mariano Heuser (Argentina)
Prix Saint Barth Assurances Allianz:
Saturday: Elke Delnooz, Jeroen Van Leeuwen (Holland)
Friday: Orion Martin, Charles Gaté (France)
Prix Design Affairs: John Casey, Colin Page (USA)
Ellen Lampert-Gréaux lives in Saint Barthélemy where she is editor-in-chief of Harbour Magazine.