Pretty tough conditions in Saint Barth, where Cruz Gonzalez-Smith & Mariano Heuser take the lead after Day One, ahead strong contenders Jean-Christophe Mourniac & Antoine Rucard (FRA), John Tomko & Jonathan Atwood (USA), and Tripp Burd & Charles Tomeo (USA), all in a tie after two races.
Translated from Press Release:
The 12th edition of the St.Barth Cata Cup opened on Thursday. On this first day of competition, the 60 crews who were expecting to race in light winds finally benefited from a flow of western sector blowing between 8 and 15 knots. Conditions however unstable both in strength and direction have sometimes turned the tables, but have made the business of some, starting with the Argentineans Cruz Gonzalez Smith and Mariano Heuser. The duo bearing the colors of Architectonik has, indeed, shown a great regularity despite the constant variations of the wind, winning the first race and finishing 4th of the second. They moved to the first place in the provisional ranking, and won the “Design Affairs-001” prize in front of Jean-Christophe Mourniac and Antoine Rucard (Eden-Rock Villa Rental) and John Tomko and Jonathan Atwood (Boglioni) respectively 2nd and 3rd.
“With 1st and 4th places, we have the perfect day and we could not hope much better to start the race, especially since we expected a complicated start, with a westerly wind, a rather unusual area in St. Barts and quite disturbed. In the end, we sailed well and in addition, we had a little success, especially during the first regatta. We stayed for a long time 4 or 5 before taking the lead when we saw those who had to fall into the devents of the islets, which allowed us to adjust our trajectory. During the second run, we took a medium start which forced us to tack to clear us. After that, we made the right choices, but we also played the small oscillations of the wind.” commented Cruz Gonzalez Smith who was able to be opportunistic during this first day of competition, but also of constancy, which allows him to take the place of leader in the provisional ranking.
Very small point difference
“Overall, it was a rather open today and some of the favorites of the race have earned some points,” added the Argentinean helmsman, 3rd of the last Formula 18 Worlds, notably referring to his compatriots Pablo Volker and Sergio Mehl (St Barth Assurances ), 3rd in the last edition but currently 41st overall after a “bad” 20th place and a disqualification for OCS start, as well as the holders of the title, the Belgians Patrick Demesmaeker and Olivier Gagliani (The Pearls of St Barts). The latter experienced some setbacks on the first race, the breakage of their trapeze having caused them to capsize. Also, despite all their efforts to return to the score, they took a 12th place, and they get 10th place overall.
Whatever the case, there are already serious contenders for victory behind the Argentineans, like Jean-Christophe Mourniac and Antoine Rucard (Eden Rock Villa Rental), John Tomko and Jonathan Atwood (Boglioni) but also Tripp Burd and Charles Tomeo (Burning Torch), all tied after two races.
Blessing in disguise
“This morning, we missed the first opportunity in the gale. We rounded first mark 20th or 25th, but we struggled to come back and we finished 10th, which is not bad. This afternoon, the start was a little unusual because by choosing Race Committee boat side, it was possible to directly reach the offset mark. The problem is that we got covered by another boat and we were forced to tack to find fresh wind. At first, we had to grit our teeth, but it turns out that the shift we had to make allowed us to reach more wind and more right gain than the others. Result, we went in the lead and we stayed, “ said Antoine Rucard who had to contain until the end repeated attacks by Americans John Tomko and Jonathan Atwood, but also French Gurvan Bontemps and Benjamin Amiot (Eden Rock ). “It really stayed tense until the finish. The wind has become more and more irregular and no one has let go, “ said the Finisterian, second in the last Tour de France Sailing in Diam 24 OD, who managed to show a certain consistency too, despite conditions a little particulars of the day.
Regularity, key to success?
On the other hand, it was a little more complicated for some competitors who had trouble managing the air instability and the site effects, but many of them still managed to make good gains. For example, pair Orion and Antoine Martin (Mext Cardio) made a nice performance during the first regatta by winning the 2nd place. “Everything went really well. After a good start, we made all the right tacks. Everything went perfectly well from start to finish. It was a bit more complicated in the next round because despite a good start, we stayed a little bit backwards then (16th). We are, however, happy with our day and the tuning of the boat, “ said the Toulonnais team-mate who is currently 8th overall. “Unlike my brother, this is my first time at the St.Barth Cata Cup and I do not sail much in F18. A place in the final Top 10 is a goal. To have fun is one too and that’s good, the conditions announced for this weekend promise a very good match, ” finished Antoine Martin.
Original press release (in French)
Front picture by Michael Gramm