SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - It’s a tale of two separate events, with different vibes and energy, happening concurrently in this fifth edition of the Caribbean Multihull Challenge. In our parallel universes, on one hand, CMC V is what it’s always been: A showcase of competitive racing prowess from a wide variety of slick catamarans and trimarans. This year, CMC V has also introduced and welcomed a whole new fleet of cruising sailors in a dedicated rally where the whole idea is fine sailing, great parties and making new friends.
And the latter was definitely on display today when the dozen yachts representing the CMC Multihull Rally field set sail from Anse Marcel on St. Maartin’s French side for a windy crossing of the Anguilla Channel and on to an anchorage on Anguilla’s Road Bay, where live music and libations awaited at the aptly named Lit Lounge.
It’s no secret to anyone who has attended any of the world’s best sailboat shows in the last decade that multihulls are easily the fastest growing segment of the sailing sector of the marine industry. For the CMC Rally, a wide range of brands and models are on the water, led by a half-dozen Balance Catamarans, the sleek daggerboard-equipped performance cats produced in South Africa, which has become one of the leading producers of cruising catamarans. France, of course, is the other main player, and the CMC is well represented with French boats from Lagoon, Outremer, Nautitech and Neel Trimarans. Like the sailors themselves, and the three separate island nations they’ll visit over the course of the event, the CMC Rally is an international affair.
Prior to the Rally start, Phil Berman, the force behind Balance cats, talked about what drew so many of his boats to the CMC Rally. “We’re trying to build a community with our Balance family, and this was just the perfect venue to bring our owners together,” he said. “We’ve all become friends and just enjoy hanging out. I’d say three-quarters of our owners never race, but everyone loves to sail and the Caribbean is all about great sailing. We had six boats and could’ve had more, but we have two couples sailing who have boats being built who are sailing with current owners. We did a group photo today of all out boats under sail which was like herding cats, but it made for some great pictures.”
Race Competitor CMC V: Fujin. Photo Credit Laurens Morel / Salty Colours.
Then it was off to Anse Marcel. “The Marina, and the Blue Sail Hôtel and Restaurant welcomed us with open arms,” said CMC director of marketing Steve Burzon. “All the rally boats in the gorgeous Anse Marcel anchorage added to the beauty there. There was a wonderful party Friday night with great music and lots of Amstel Bright beer. All restaurants were open to serve our 60 guests. All clearances in and out of the three countries making up the rally itinerary have been easy thanks to the St. Maarten Yacht Club’s social committee volunteers and the yacht club office.”
Once underway again, there were photo ops galore this morning as well, as CMC’s Burzon set a departure line off Anse Marcel and the fleet set sail across a very sporty, whitecap-flecked, wave-tossed Anguilla Channel. Sailing a deep broad reach just as the sun popped through the cloudy skies, the Balance 482, Catalyst, was the first boat to conduct a perfect spinnaker set and performed what was probably the most impressive departure. Two more Balance 482’s, Rodeless and Zephyr, soon followed suit, and before long the horizon was dotted with colorful sails. Nearly every boat hoisted a reefed main with the exception of the Balance 442 Umoya, which went without a mainsail but instead flew a unique Parasailor winged spinnaker, which was a remarkable sight unto itself. Before too long, the fleet vanished to the west, on to its next collective adventure.
Along with the sailing, the Rally entries are completing an estimated time schedule and a Rally Bingo Card for additional prizes. The latter includes 24 challenges, including Group Picture, Song Sung w/Whole Crew, Sailing Backwards and many others. With the completed challenges making their way back to race headquarters at the St. Maarten Yacht Club, it’s clear that many crews are having a fine time filling out their cards.
Rally Participant CMC V: Little Wing. Photo Credit Laurens Morel / Salty Colours.
Meanwhile, back along the south shore of St. Maarten, the racers got back into action. And there was plenty of it across all four racing divisions. And once again, at the forefront of it all, Greg Slyngstad’s 53-foot Fujin was taking names and kicking butts.
In the second act of what has become the CMC’s Triple Crown of offshore races, Fujin dominated CSA 1 in the Caribbean 60 Mile Multihull Sprint sponsored by FKG Rigging, a circumnavigation of St. Barth’s, in the blistering elapsed time of 4h, 15m, 20s.
The CSA 2 class has become a match-race duel between a pair of superbly sailed trimarans, the classic Newick-designed Tryst, skippered by Arthur Banting, and what is easily the most improved competitor from last year’s regatta, Marcos Sirata’s Corsair 37, Honey Badger. In today’s wildest finish, Honey Badger was leading on elapsed time in the 27-mile around-the-island race but cut the last mark and made for the finish line. The crew soon realized its mistake and turned around to honor the last mark, but in the mean-time Tryst went ahead and crossed the line first, and also saved their time on corrected time to win the class.
Race Competitor CMC V: Honey Badger. Photo Credit Laurens Morel / Salty Colours.
Also today, CSA 3 and the Diam 24 one-design class had repeat winners from day one in their respective classes, with Georges Coutu’s Leopard 50, La Novia, and Pierre Altier’s Cry Baby once again topping their competition.