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St.Barth Cata Cup: The roster gets better and better

by Saint-Barth Cata-Cup 4 Nov 2018 10:05 GMT 14-18 November 2018
Iordanis Paschalidis and Konstantinos Trigonis, F18 World Champions © Pierrick Contin

As the 11th edition of the St.Barth Cata Cup rapidly approaches, the organizers are busy getting ready to enthusiastically welcome the 60 teams expected for the event, including last year's winners, Iordanis Paschalidis and Konstantinos Trigonis.

This Greek duo, recently crowned Formula 18 World Champions in Sarasota, Florida, will try to defend their title and once again be victorious at the Cata Cup. Yet, to do so, there could be some choppy waters, as the competition not only comprises other teams who finished in the Top 15 at the Worlds in Florida, but also some top-name competitors —champions aboard sports catamaran or in other sailboat classes— including: Australian Gavin Colby; Noé Delpech, world vice-champion 2018 in the 49er class; or Morgan Lagravière, winner of the Cata Cup in 2014, and who has been racing recently on the 60 ft. IMOCA circuit. These ace sailors have just confirmed their participation or been given wild cards, to compete a roster that was already impressive, and only continues to get better!

The countdown has begun for the organizers of the St.Barth Cata Cup. In fact, it is just two weeks before the starting gun of the 11th edition, and the regatta promises to be spectacular with highly competitive races. And for good reason, as this event reserved for Formula 18 will feature 60 teams of two, which include some of the top international specialists in this discipline.

At the top of the list: Iordanis Paschalidis and Konstantinos Trigonis. This Greek duo, back to defend their title in Saint Barth, recently took the gold at the World Championships that took place in Florida on October 12-19, finishing every race in the top eight places, and winning four races. With this victory under their belt, it goes without saying that this tandem is one of, if not the top favorites for this 11th edition of the St.Barth Cata Cup, even if the competition seems steep, with four other duos having finished in the Top 15 at the Worlds also presents: Mitch and Ruben Booth (7th), Cruz Gonzalez Smith and Mariano Heuser (9th), Emmanuel Boulogne (10th), and Charles Tomeo and Dalton Tebo (15th). All of the above sailors, and other top names already confirmed such as Enrique Figueroa, Patrick Demesmaker, Olivier Gagliani, Pierre Le Clainche, Antoine Joubert, Marc Pirinoli, Erik Maris and Gurvan Bontemps, will be joined by other big hitters who have just confirmed their participation or were given a wild card by St.Barth Multihulls, the non-profit association that manages the regatta.

Competitors from the four corners of the globe

Coming from afar, Australian Gavin Colby, whose titles include Hobie 16 double world champion, F18 (2003) and Tornado (2016) world vice-champion, who will be sailing with Jayden Dalton. "Basically I am a pilot for Virgin here in Australia," explains Colby. "I took a huge break to sort out my flying career after living in Europe for five years, working for Hobie Cat Europe in Toulon. Now with my wife and kids, I would like to finish a few things that I never achieved on the F18. So I started racing again! We had to decide between the F18 Worlds in Sarasota and the Cata Cup, and chose St Barth. We almost made it there, three years ago, but we unexpectedly (but very happily) learnt my wife would be expecting Grace and would be eight months pregnant in St Barth. So we had to pull out. Now Grace is almost three so we are really looking forward to finally seeing St Barth, even if a long journey awaits me to get there from Perth by way of Melbourne, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Saint Martin! Also catching up with some old friends, like Patrick Demesmaker or Trois Pommes (Olivier Gagliani), and Emmanuel Boulogne," says the Australian, who will also face other big champions such as Noé Delpech and Morgan Lagravière, who have decided to join forces for the first time in the F18 class.

Top champions threaten to rock the boat

"Noé and I are originally from Réunion and are also childhood friends," explains Morgan Lagravière. For the record, the first time I stepped onto a boat, it was Noé's Optimist, when I was about six or seven years old. We sailed together in the 420 class, between 2001 and 2003, with, as it happens, great results. We were both very lucky at the time to be coached by Gabriel Jean-Albert, who knew how to transmit his rigor and his knowledge.

After that, we took different paths but for a long time we have hoped to do a Formula 18 race together. It so happens that this year our respective sailing calendars afforded us the opportunity to participate in the Cata Cup and the organizers gave us a wild card at the last minute. Which is great," says Morgan, who has been seen in recent years on the IMOCA circuit, while his acolyte has shined in the 49er class, notably with a second place in the World Sailing Championships last summer with Mathieu Frei, and a fifth place at the 2016 Rio Olympics with Julien d'Ortoli. "We are coming to the St.Barth Cata Cup without ambition, even if we think we have the means to do well. Miguel Danet found us a boat that is polyvalent enough, as it happens, a Nacra Infusion new enough to allow us to race well in all conditions," notes Morgan, who makes his return to Saint Barth four years after his victory, sailing duo with Arnaud Jarlengan, the same partner with whom he finished fourth in the F18 world championships.

In brief, we have concluded that even if Noé and Morgan are not F18 specialists, we're willing to bet they will make waves (or worse) for the expected favorites, which will spice up the regatta a bit, all for the better.

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