Translated from Press Release
Everyone was aware fourth and final day of St. Barth Cata Cup will be decisive, four teams being still able to claim victory before last two races to be sailed. Suspense was therefore high by launching time, and kept increasing when Gurvan Bontemps and Benjamin Amiot (Eden Rock St Barth) stepped on equal points with Jean-Christophe Mourniac and Antoine Rucard (Eden Rock Villa Rental) after winning race 6.
Needless to say that the stress, which was already tangible, rose to its maximum just before the start of the seventh and last regatta, both Argies Cruz Gonzalez Smith and Mariano Heuser (Architectonik) and Toulonnais brothers Orion and Antoine Martin (Mext Cardio) being still in the game for final victory.
Whatever the case, Mourniac-Rucard, provisional leaders after their bullet in round island race, did not fail to resist pressure, by winning the last race, hence the event title.
On Sunday morning, there was a mere nine points gap between the four leaders. The last two races will therefore be decisive and one have to say they kept all their promises.
The first run between Bay of Saint-Jean and Boulanger and Pelé islands, largely shuffled the cards, and put a number of teams under pressure, starting with Jean-Christophe Mourniac & Antoine Rucard. Provisional leaders after the first three competition days, scoring six points only, the pair got a 7th place while duo Gurvan Bontemps-Benjamin Amiot got a new bullet, the two pairs being then on equal points. So everything remained to be done for both teams in the final race towards Public Beach, via Roche le Bœuf.
“When starting 7th and last race, we were well aware that we were not permitted to miss the win. We did the right thing from the beginning and pretty quickly, we ended up fighting with Cruz Gonzalez Smith & Mariano Heuser. We managed to catch them downwind, taking the lead, but we knew that nothing was definitely gained because we had an important tactical choice to make for rounding Roche le Bœuf. The Argies shifted upwind when we decided to go downwind, hoping not to suffer the devents too much. This was the right choice and we sailed in first place until the finish” commented Jean-Christophe Mourniac who then secured the victory, improving by the way his former 2010 score, when he finished 3rd with crew Christopher Jonsson.
A success for a premiere
“We are really happy with Antoine, specially considering it was the first time we sailed a F18 together” said the Maximois, aka Kinou, who, for the record, was initially planning to participate in the event with Erik Maris. The latter, being restrained by his professional obligations, was finally replaced at short notice by the young Finisterian. “We had a lot of racing together on Diam 24 One Design, during Tour de France à la Voile, but we both discovered the Cirrus R2. We quickly found the keys and we rapidly sailed on the edge against tough contenders” detailed Kinou.
Even they smiled when beaching, disappointment was however visible on the faces of Gurvan Bontemps and Benjamin Amiot who hoped to climb this year the top step on the podium after their 3rd and 2nd places in 2015 and 2016 editions.
“Victory in St.Barth Cata Cup keeps on resisting us. It’s a little bit difficult to bear because we have never been so close. To be in the lead before the last race never happened before. Good news is that even if you get older, you keep progressing. Maybe we will end up winning one day!” commented Gurvan , who, nevertheless, keeps his sense of humor. “After our three consecutive race wins, we were on a good move. We started race 7 planning to continue sailing in the same way, not necessarily closely controlling our opponent because we knew that it would be complicated to do so due to an unstable wind direction. In the end, we got 5th after losing one place just on the finish line, being caught in a wind hole, saving whatever the second place”, explained the Vannetais who finishes in a tie with the Argies Gonzalo Smith & Heuser, but takes advantage thanks to his number of bullets.
Eager to come back next year already
“A podium remains a podium, but we are obviously a little bit disappointed not to climb on the highest step. Round island race, counting double, costed us a lot. We finished in 6th place, our worst place in the four competition days, when our direct opponents did performed well. Actually, it was the worst possible scenario for us. Battle remained very tight until the end but despite our two 2nd places this Sunday, we did not manage to win, what we clearly came for” commented Cruz Gonzalez Smith, who leaves with bronze, same as at the class World Championship in Spain last summer. “We still had a lot of fun racing in St Barth and we will come back for revenge next year!” promised the South American helmsman. Same by Antoine Rucard, who was discovering the race for the first time, and who intends to return as soon as possible. “The St Barth Cata Cup is a fabulous event, with a great level, incredible courses and exceptional sailing conditions. I will do everything to be there again in 2020” concluded the winner.