They decided to come at the last minute and they conquered! Two teams from the USA won the two top spots in the 2010 Saint Barth Cata Cup, competing against a field featuring world champions and Olympic contenders. First-place honors went to John Casey and Dalton Tebo, while Robbie Daniel and Gary Chu nabbed second place.
Both American teams sailed on C2 Australian High Performance Catamarans (AHPC), which Daniel distributes in the US, from his home base in Clearwater, Florida, where he also runs Red Gear Racing offering catamaran coaching at all levels. Bernuth Lines, a worldwide shipping company, sponsored a container to get the AHPC catamarans to Saint Barth from Florida.
"We decided to come two weeks ahead of the race. We didn't know we were coming until the last minute, and then to come and win is exceptional," explains Casey, who raced last year with Carrie Howe, placing sixth overall and as the top mixed team. This year, sailing with Dalton Tebo, this American team dominated almost every course and of the four different races, they placed first twice.
"Fantastic sailing, fantastic people, and the most fun I've ever had," said Casey after the awards ceremony late Sunday. "The C2 boat performed very well. The conditions were really suited to our boat, with the high wind and waves and our teamwork makes us faster, although this boat is fast in all conditions. An all-around boat is all-around better. We were in front most of the time looking back at the fleet with their spinnakers unfurled, and saying 'what a view'!"
The racing conditions were challenging and Casey and Tebo, who consider themselves semi-pro sailors, pulled out all the stops to beat world champions such as Oliver Backes, Misha Heemskerk, Jean-Christophe Mourniac, and Emmanuel Boulogne, who were among the favorites at the Cata Cup. Mourniac placed the best of these champs, taking third place alongside Kristoffer Johnsson, who lived in Saint Barth for many years and knows the waters around the island.
"We did very well against some very stiff competition," said Johnsson, who won the first edition of the earlier iteration of the Cata Cup in 1993, sailing with the late Carlton Tucker, who passed away in 1998. "I'd like to present a trophy in Carlton's honor," Johnsson added, paying tribute to his former teammate and US national champion.
The ambiance at the Cata Cup was fabulous, the organization top-notch, and many of the sailors are already talking about next year. "In terms of competitors, the field definitely had a cross-section of the world's best cat sailors," said second-place winner Gary Chu. "The opportunity to race against that caliber of sailors is great, and Saint Barth is an awesome place to sail: the scenery, the water, the people."
Organized by the non-profit association, St Barth Multihulls, 2010 marked the third edition of this event, which has clearly established itself as the major regatta for F18 sports catamarans in the Caribbean. The three-day race was held Friday-Sunday, November 19-21, and based at the restaurant Nikki Beach. A total of 45 two-person teams participated, the largest fleet to date.
Ellen Lampert-Gréaux lives in Saint BarthÃ©lemy where she is editor-in-chief of Harbour Magazine, and has been a regular contributor to All At Sea since 2000. She also writes regularly about entertainment design and technology for Live Design magazine, and about Caribbean architecture for MACO, a Trinidad-based lifestyle magazine.