High winds, rough seas, and changes to the schedule made the seventh edition of the Saint Barth Cata Cup the most challenging to date. Organized in Saint Barth by Jeff Ledée, Vincent Jordil, and Helene Guilbaud, this event attracts a major roster of F18 catamaran racers as well as seasoned sailors who want to try their luck on these speedy little sport cats. Not to mention a fair number of amateurs.
This year’s lineup featured former winners of the race, including John Casey, Emmanuel Boulogne, and the duo of Franck Cammas and Matthieu Vandame, who returned to defend the title they won last year. But two newcomers took top honors: Morgan Lagravière and Arnaud Jarlegan (Architectonik). A specialist in offshore racing on the Imoca circuit with the Safran team, Lagravière was best equipped to deal with gusts of wind as high as 30 knots, and high seas with two-meter swells.
Cammas and Vandame looked good on the starting line and won the Design affairs trophy on Thursday November 20th. Lagravière and Jarlegan and Mike Easton and Matthew Whitehead (REMAX4), also first-timers at the Cata Cup, completed Thursday’s winner’s circle.
With bad weather expected on Saturday, the challenging tour around the island was moved to Friday morning, November 21st. In this race, Lagravière and Jarlegan beat Cammas and Vandame by a nose as they battled the high winds. With their victory in the tour around the island giving them an advantage, Lagravière and Jarlegan won the Allianz Saint-Barth Assurances Trophy as awarded on Friday. Cammas and Vandame took second place, while Nacra 17 world champions Billy Besson and Marie Riou (Nikki Beach) were third.
Saturday November 22nd saw strong gusts of wind whipping around the point of Colombier, which forced the organizers to limit the competition to just one race in the afternoon around the outlying islands of Toc-Verts and Bonhomme. Cammas and Lagravière once again dueled toward the finish, with Lagravière winning as Cammas and Vandame capsized, yet managed to get back in the race to take second place. Lagravière and Jarlegan thus won the RE/MAX Trophy on Saturday, with Frédéric Duthil and Frédéric Moreau (Marché U) in third place. Also worth noting is the impressive fourth place performance by Canadians Anthony Boueilh and Maxime Loiselle (Filles des Iles), while at least ten other boats abandoned due to the challenging conditions on Saturday afternoon.
On Sunday, the racers were grounded as the Cata Cup organizers preferred to be prudent in face of the weather conditions. Better to avoid damage to the boats after a tentative start in the bay of Saint Jean, with almost a dozen boats overturned in just a few minutes.
For Morgan Lagravière and Arnaud Jarlegan it was quite the introduction to the Saint Barth Cata Cup and hopefully they will be back for the 2015 edition of the race to add to the excitement of this annual event that is growing in importance on the F18 circuit.
For more information, visit: 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.