No one will soon forget that on the night of September 5 to 6, 2017, Hurricane Irma, one of the most devastating storms of the century, unleashed its full fury on the island of Saint Barthélemy. In the past weeks, with an enormous display of solidarity, the residents have been actively working toward the island’s reconstruction, with one common goal: that daily life should get back to normal. Motivated by that shared objective, as well as their energy and courage, the organizers of the Saint-Barth Cata Cup decided to maintain the 10th edition of the event on November 13-20, 2017. The challenge is huge, but with the support of the sponsors and encouragement from the racers, everyone felt it was important to bring such activities, as well as hope and joy back to Saint-Barth.
“The decision to hold this 10 th anniversary edition of the Saint-Barth Cata Cup or not after the catastrophe that the island experienced was not a simple one to make. At first, we consulted with our sponsors, the Collectivity, the territorial tourism committee… it was primordial for us, the organizers, to have their support. Unanimously, they responded yes, they wished for the event to take place. From there, we had to make sure that we would be able to host the racers from around the world in the best possible conditions, and ensure the safety of the event”, explains island-born Jeff Ledée, creator of the regatta and a seasoned sailor. Today, all systems are go for the 10 th Saint-Barth Cata Cup to take place properly, even if, clearly, it is somewhat of a big gamble. “In Saint Barth, the residents are working really hard to get the island back on its feet so that life can get back to normal. What they hope for is to breathe a little easier as they get farther from this moment that was so difficult for entire population. Of course, it’s not easy as everyone faced serious damage, but everyone wants to move forward. What better than to welcome and/or participate in such a convivial event to soothe our hearts?” asks Jeff, who was touched by the incredible response of the racers when they were consulted after the hurricane hit, for confirmation of their participation. “Their response was very positive, as well as very supportive. A number of them even offered to come and give a hand in putting the island back on its feet, with or without the Saint-Barth Cata Cup. Everyone wanted to offer their help and we had no doubt that if the event could take place in very good conditions, it would bring a sense of joy and enthusiasm to the entire island!” adds Jeff Ledée.
Enthusiastic and Supportive Racers
“It’s really great that the regatta will take place. It’s a little bit of a surprise, even if we know that Saint Barth is an island with a lot of resources and the organizers of the event are extremely motivated to help launch the 2018 tourist season”, comments Benjamin Amiot, who knows the event well, having participated three times, quite successfully, having finished eighth in 2014 with James Baeckler, president of the French F18 class, then in second and third place in 2015 and 2016 as a duo with Gurvan Bontemps. “I will race with him again this year. That’s good as we can continue our progression and maybe take first place, but that won’t be easy for this 10th edition, as the level looks really incredible. The idea will be to above all sail well and have a lot of fun, and I can tell already that it will be great. The setting is extraordinary and everything is arranged so that the competitors are welcomed in the best possible way”, notes Benjamin, a true specialist on small multi-hulls, who one finds alternatively sailing the Flying Phantom, Diam 24 OD, D35, or GC32. Among his primary competition, there is notably Franck Cammas, who was skipper of Groupama Team France during the most recent America’s Cup race. Taking first place in 2013, and second in 2014, Cammas has indicated his return to the event after two year’s absence, and will sail with his frequent partner, Mathieu Vandame. Cammas has shared his enthusiasm that the race will be held: “Like all the other racers, when the organizers contacted me to see if I was still interested in participating in this rather unusual context, I didn’t hesitate. It’s good to change the course of destiny. It’s a terrific opportunity for everyone to show that in Saint Barth, they are already on their feet. This is certainly an ambitious project and we are all aware that while the regatta may not take place with all the usual comfort, it will really be ideal to motivate the troops. It’s not just by chance that all of the teams indicated their presence and that they are all ready to come with a trowel to help rebuild anything that needs rebuilding. Everyone is very happy and motivated to participate in this edition of the Saint-Barth Cata Cup, which will certainly have a different flavor”, relates Cammas. How true!
About the St. Barth Cata Cup
The ST. BARTH CATA CUP is a high-calibre sporting event where catamaran enthusiasts come together under the Caribbean sun. After three editions in 1992, 1993 and 1994, the St. Barth Cata Cup was relaunched in 2008 by Vincent Jordil, Jeff Ledee and Thierry Linares. The St. Barth Cata Cup brings together competitors of various nationalities, from world champions to Saint Barth residents. Follow the 10th edition of the St. Barth Cata Cup on www.stbarthcatacup.com, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.