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Introducing the new IMA Caribbean Maxi Multihull Series

by James Boyd / International Maxi Association 14 Feb 12:05 GMT 19 February 2024
Introducing the new IMA Caribbean Maxi Multihull Series © International Maxi Association

Maxi multihull owners and crews now have an extra target when they race in the Caribbean this spring.

Following its successful series in the Mediterranean for maxi monohulls, the International Maxi Association has similarly gathered together the most popular local sailing events to create the IMA Caribbean Maxi Multihull Series (CMMS).

As with other IMA series, this is open to maxis (ie yachts of 60+ft (18.29m) LH) but in this case multihulls. The winner will have their name engraved on a silver perpetual trophy, put up by the IMA.

For 2024, the new IMA Caribbean Maxi Multihull Series (CMMS) comprises a mix of inshore and offshore races: 1) Caribbean Multihull Challenge Race and Rally (St Maarten) - 1-4 February
2) RORC Caribbean 600 (Antigua-Antigua) - 19 February
3) St Maarten Heineken Regatta (St Maarten) - 29 February-3 March
4) BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival (Tortola, BVI) - 1-7 April

The initiative is in line with the IMA's remit, as tasked to it by the governing body of the sport, World Sailing: to oversee, nurture and develop maxi yacht racing internationally. As its other monohull maxi series have shown, the aim of the Caribbean Maxi Multihull Series is to provide focus upon and consolidation in a few key events, thereby growing fleets and increasing competitor enjoyment.

While maxi racing as a sport has existed for decades, if not centuries, private owner maxi multihull racing is a much newer discipline. Owners have been enjoying ultra-hot competition between heavily turboed, and today often fully flying, former MOD70 trimarans, while the last two decades has seen huge advances in hi-tech and ultra high performance cruising catamarans, led by Gunboat, some of whose owners wish to race.

As to why the IMA has chosen to hold this series in the Caribbean, Secretary General Andrew McIrvine explains: "At present there are groups of high performance multihulls, some in the USA and others in Europe. The Caribbean represents a natural annual meeting place for these two groups. As we've seen in the past their numbers are greatest in the events there."

Since it was founded in 1979, the IMA has been dedicated purely to overseeing and developing the monohull side of the sport. Today private owner maxi multihull racing has converged with the monohull world: both use the same technology, created to the same high standards of design, engineering and build; both are sailed by similarly high calibre crew. In fact some owners, such as Highland Fling 18's Lord Irvine Laidlaw, have made the transition from one to two hulls - his Gunboat 80 offering exceptional performance but also a more stable platform that is less physically demanding on him.

The 2024 IMA Caribbean Maxi Multihull Series started in early February with St Maarten Yacht Club's Caribbean Multihull Challenge Race and Rally. After the penultimate day Todd Slyngstad's well practiced team on their HH66 catamaran Nemo and Riccardo Pavoncelli's Gunboat 66 Mana were tied on points. On the final day a trio of bullets for Nemo secured her the first victory of the Caribbean multihull racing season and first points in the CMMS.

The IMA CMMS resumes on 19 February with the RORC Caribbean 600, the sole offshore race of the CMMS, which the Royal Ocean Racing Club organises in association with Antigua Yacht Club. Multihulls have a long tradition competing in this, since the first edition when an ORMA 60 trimaran establishing a race record of 40 hours 11 minutes 5 seconds. Today the record stands at just 29 hours 38 mins 44 seconds; set in 2022 by Jason Carroll's MOD70 Argo.

This year while three MOD70s, including Argo and 2023 line honours winner, Erik Maris' Zoulou, will be competing for line honours, they will line up with Adrian Keller's Irens 84 catamaran Allegra, the defending MOCRA class champion.

The series then returns north for the 44th St Maarten Heineken Regatta, also organised by Sint Maarten Yacht Club. One of the Caribbean's oldest regattas, competitors are attracted by the island's crystal clear waters and northeasterly trades that provide an opportunity for brisk sailing. Each day competitors are sent off on either a coastal course, including, if conditions allow, a race around St Maarten, or up to four inshore races.

Concluding the IMA CMMS in early April is the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival, organised by the Royal BVI Yacht Club and hosted by Nanny Cay Marina in Tortola over the first week of April.

The week kicks off with the Round Tortola Nanny Cay Cup, first of two races in the BVI Sailing Festival which is followed by the Scrub Island Invitational where competitors race to an idyllic island resort to enjoy a BBQ, live entertainment and awards in a paradise setting.

Following a layday racing resumes with three days of windward-leewards on the BVI's magnificent St Francis Drake Channel. The professional Race Committee set courses daily making full use of the variety of offshore and protected channel sailing, with up to three races a day, with maxi multihulls competing in the Performance Multihull class.

To quality for the IMA CMMS teams must compete in a minimum of two events to qualify. Those that sail more can discard their worst result. Teams that compete in more events are rewarded in the end of series scoring.

For more on the International Maxi Association visit www.internationalmaxiassociation.com

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