SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - In a spectacular conclusion to what had been a sensational fifth edition of the Caribbean Multihull Challenge Race and Rally, the racing classes and rally fleet converged along the southwestern shores of St. Maarten today to wrap up three remarkable days of sailing. Together, under colorful, billowing spinnakers and with spray flying in easterly trade-wind gusts of well over 20 knots, the combined fields of racing and performance-cruising catamarans and trimarans powered to the finish line in company through the roiled waters of Simpson Bay.
Though it was a happy coincidence that all the sailors came together at the finish, it was also fitting for an event conducted in and blessed with near-perfect Caribbean sailing conditions. In every way imaginable, CMC V was a keeper.
Race Rally Participant: Panda Rosso - Outer Passage. Photo Credit Laurens Morel / Salty Colours.
There were winners, of course, in all four of the racing divisions, with two boats headlining the action and taking home Swiss watches from longtime CMC sponsor Oris Holstein: Pierre Altier’s Diam 24, Cry Baby, which won the Diam 24 division and was named the regatta’s Most Worthy Performer for registering the most convincing victory in the event’s most competitive class. And Greg Slyngstad’s Fujin, which won today’s CMC 27 Mile Around Island Circle Race sponsored by Amstel Bright with a time of 2h, 10m, 22s, earned their timepiece for capturing the CMC Trifecta with first places in all three of the event’s offshore contests. The 53-foot cat also won Friday’s Around Saba Dash sponsored by the Sint Maarten Tourism Bureau and Saturday’s Caribbean 60 Mile Multihull Sprint around St. Barth’s, sponsored by FKG Rigging.
In the other racing classes, Arthur Banting’s Tryst won CSA 2 and Georges Coutu’s La Novia was the winner of CSA 3. In the rally fleet, at this evening’s prizegiving ceremonies at the St. Maarten Yacht Club, Ron Boehm’s beautiful blue Bob Perry-designed Antrim 52, Little Wing, received the award for the Estimated Time Challenge and the Bingo Card Challenge, with Darren Seltzer’ colorful Neel 45 trimaran, Panda Rosso, a close second.
Race Competitor CMC V: Team Fope. Photo Credit Laurens Morel / Salty Colours.
In today’s finale, with the Diam 24 class of one-design trimarans deciding to forgo racing, and the CSA 2 trimarans Honey Badger and Tryst also sitting Sunday out on what was easily the windiest day of the regatta, principal race officer Rein Korteknie sent the CSA 1 fleet on the aforementioned round-the-island race, leaving St. Maarten to port on a counterclockwise spin around the isle. Meanwhile, Korteknie sent the CSA 3 fleet in the opposite direction, on a course to a mark off Marigot and back.
In CSA 1, the Gunboat 60 Cui Bono actually got the better of Fujin on the starting line and essentially won the start, but it took little time for Slyngstad’s ridiculously quick cat to power past the larger boat to leeward. Once again, Fujin was launched, providing the other five boats in the class with yet another familiar view of its twin transoms.
The early stages of the CSA 3 race was both much closer and far more dramatic. Coutu’s La Novia and Petro Jonker’s perennial contender Seaduction, a classic Leopard 47, were basically overlapped at the top mark with Jonker just able to squeeze out the larger, newer Leopard 50. It was match racing at its best. As squalls raked the seaway, both cats hoisted spinnakers and commenced a back and forth duel as they sailed westward, with Seaduction slowly, steadily pulling away.
Rally Competitor CMC V: Little Wing. Photo Credit Laurens Morel / Salty Colours.
A busted halyard on the leg up to Marigot sunk Seaduction’s chances, however, but it also opened the door for the all-women crew on the Lagoon 380, Team Fope, to move into second on corrected time today, which gave the squad a second place for the regatta in CSA 3. It was a fine and gritty result for the ladies, whose effort was sponsored by another longtime CMC backer, Fope Jewelry. Last year’s Most Worthy Performer, Anthony McVeigh aboard the Schionning 51C cat 2 2 Tango, took second this year in CSA 1, again putting together a strong series.
Though Korteknie surely didn’t plan on the race and rally participants rendezvousing off the southwest corner of St. Maarten, as the CSA 1 fleet entered the final stage of their battle around the island, and the CSA 3 boats returning from Marigot, when they were joined by the entire rally fleet returning from their overnight anchorage on Anguilla, that’s exactly what happened.
It was totally cool. Ron Boehm’s Little Wing, led the rally contingent, followed closely by Pauline Lamb’s powerful Lagoon 570, Joline, and Darren Seltzer’s Panda Rosso. That trio was soon joined by another tri, the CSA 1 racing machine Oceans Tribute, which Aussie sailor Guy Chester cruised all the way from New Zealand, much of the trip solo. Everything and everyone mixed seamlessly.
Race Competitor CMC V: Fujin. Photo Credit Laurens Morel / Salty Colours.
When it was over and the prizes had been passed out at Sunday’s night raucous final party and award’s ceremony, one of the best sailors in the entire CMC fleet, Fujin’s Jonathan McKee, an Olympic medalist and recent inductee into the National Sailing Hall of Fame, had this to say. When asked about Fujin’s prowess at the CMC, he said:
“We’ve been sailing the boat for five years and this is the third time we’ve done the CMC. We keep finding ways to get a little faster. It’s been an evolution. So, I say to the guys here for the first time: ‘Keep plugging. It’s not an accident.’ And we love this event, it’s such a great vibe, the locals and the sailors are so cool but there’s great competition. We know St. Maarten is one of the first places where multihulls were raced hard. We’re here to pay homage to that.”
Fitting words to wrap up a great event. The sixth Caribbean Multihull Challenge Race and Rally will take place February 2-4, 2024. Come pay homage to the sport and its sailors. You will not be disappointed.