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11th St. Barth Cata Cup gets off to a flying start!

by St. Barth Cata Cup Press 16 Nov 2018 19:26 GMT 14-18 November 2018
Day 1 - 11th St. Barth Cata Cup © Michael Gramm

The 11th edition of the St.Barth Cata Cup got off to a flying start on Thursday, since as expected, the weather conditions brought high winds, between 16 and 20 knots, but which allowed the committee to launch two races.

The first was in the bay of St Jean, and the second, which was longer, between the islets of Tortue and Bœuf. If there were many unexpected maneuvers and some radical departures from the course, or in the case of the duo Kévin Gréaux— Hervé Brin (SBDE) who finished with a mast bent in two, the battle toward the finish was spectacular, especially for those in the front.

In the end, if the Belgian's Patrick Demesmaeker and Olivier Gagliani (Les Perles de St Barth) and the Greeks Iordanis Paschalidis and Konstantinos Trigonis (St Barth Assurances) each earned a victory, the first place after day one goes to Argentineans Pablo Volker et Sergio Mehl (Paraboot by Maxwell and Co), who sailed strong and steady to win second place in both races and are thus the winners of the Grand Prix "DESIGN AFFAIRS-OO1."

This first day of competition looked promising, with challenging weather conditions. And it kept its promises. With winds from the east blowing between 18 and 20 knots in the morning, and between 15 and 17 knots in the afternoon, the committee was able to launch two races.

Belgians Patrick Demesmaeker and Olivier Gagliani (Les Perles de St Barth), won the first race in the bay of St Jean, while Greeks Iordanis Paschalidis and Konstantinos Trigonis (St Barth Assurances), last year's winners and current world champions, dominated the second race.

"It was a great first day. In terms of results, we are pleased since we placed first and fifth. It was a bit of a surprise to win the first round and I think we upset all of our competition, as they were really on their toes for the second round! The stakes are high and all the favorites are clearly in form," notes Patrick Demesmaeker, manifestly at ease in strong conditions, yet impressed by the speed of their Greek adversaries.

"They are very fast, and they won the second race with a nice lead, but that isn't a real surprise. Those who did the Worlds last month in Florida, such as Mitch Booth, said you needed binoculars to see them, they were so impressive," notes Olivier Gagliani, who counts on a few errors by the tandem of Iordanis Paschalidis— Konstantinos Trigonis to keep them from winning a second consecutive year in Saint Barth. As for the Greek error, there was a question mark during the first race.

"We thought that the finish line was the same as the starting line, which was actually not the case. We got too close to the shore and we fell into a zone with no wind, which caused us to lose several places," explained the skipper, who went from fourth to 11th place and lost precious points. "They say we needed a race to warm up, but tomorrow, that won't happen again!" adds the Greek, who has thrown down the gauntlet and has little intention of staying in fifth place in the overall standings.

The favorites raring to go

Argentineans Pablo Volker and Sergio Mehl (Paraboot by Maxwell and Co) lead the pack after day one, and made a strong debut for their first participation in the regatta. "Globally, we made good starts and succeeded in getting to the front pretty quickly. We had a great day, and to be honest, we didn't expect to be in first place," admits Sergio Mehl, while the competition is actually not so surprised to see him sailing so well. That is because he and partner recently finished 10th in the F18 Worlds. In addition, they both have solid results in Class A.

"We know that the battle will be intense right until the end, no matter what the weather brings," points out the South American sailor, who was not upset that the committee delayed the start of the first race. "If we have left as planned at 10am, it really would have been too windy, with gusts over 30 knots. I think it was really a good decision for everybody that the start was slightly later," says the Argentinean.

And it's not just the most amateur teams who felt that way, on the contrary, even Dan Maxwell and Nick Lovisa (Maxwell and Co) preferred staying on the shore for avoid being scared, while a handful of others had to abandon the race due to damage on their boats, such as Kévin Gréaux and Hervé Brin (SBDE), two young sailors from St Barth, whose broken mast means the rest of the regatta is a question mark for them. Same thing for Pierre Altier and Olivier Sanz (Moh's Place), limping now that one of them tore a ligament in his knee.

But no matter what, the rest of the regatta promises to be as intense as winds on Friday, for the Grand Prix Eden Rock Villas Rental, should be between 25 and 27 for the first part of the day, before things calm down a bit in the afternoon. But once again there should be a great spectacle... and some sailing feats.

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