As North America and Europe contend with the dark and cold days of winter, it’s always great to look to the Caribbean racing scene as a source of saline inspiration. This is especially true this year, given the still-raging global pandemic and the lack of competitive sailing that has defined much of the last year. Fortunately, there are bright spots that offer great racing and a sneak peek at what life will look like once inoculations are plentiful and herd immunity is achieved. One such bright spot is the 2021 Caribbean Multihull Challenge (February 6-7, 2021), now in its third year, which is being hosted by the Sint Maarten Yacht Club.
This event, which is open to production, semi-custom and custom builds, as well as charter boats, will offer racers the chance to fly hulls and trade tacks with other dedicated multihull racers on a visually engaging racecourse.
As with other Caribbean events, the third edition of the Caribbean Multihull Challenge will employ racecourses that use a blend of turning marks and natural features.
And while shoreside events will be a bit different this year compared to the two previous editions of this regatta due to the pandemic, once on the water, the tradewinds conditions should offer fantastic sailing for anyone lucky enough to participate.
I checked in with Michele Korteweg, general manager of the Sint Maarten Yacht Club, via email, to learn more about this exciting multihull event.
What kind of entry numbers are you seeing this year? Also, how do these stack up to previous editions of the regatta?
Currently we have eight entries. This includes many of our local boats, but also an Ocean 55 from Australia Jetwave Avalon. We currently also have two F18s entered, which should grow to a nice sizeable class of five to six [boats].
It is wonderful to see them compete again in regattas!
Currently Seaduction is the only Leopard entered, but we do know about two other Leopards who will enter, Spellbound and Aravilla, which will make for great competition.
Last year we had 16 competing boats, so with the addition of the F18s we shouldn’t be far off, even though we do expect a lower participation number this year due to the COVID situation.
Weather-wise, what kind conditions can sailors expect to encounter off of Sint Maarten in early February? Also, what are the best-case and worst-case weather scenarios?
We enjoy the trade winds in Sint Maarten which makes for great sailing conditions.
The past two editions of the Caribbean Multihull Challenge has seen some windy conditions, around 25 knots, so it does challenge our competitors. Most days are between 15 – 20 knots, which is perfect for all types of multihulls.
How important do you think local knowledge will be at this regatta? Also, do you expect most visiting teams to arrive early and acclimatize to conditions?
I don’t believe local knowledge will be too much of a benefit. The courses are understandable and use marks as well as rocks. Everyone can prepare properly for the racing. With many local boats competing it will become an exciting battle between yacht club members and really comes down to tactics.
If you could offer one piece of advice to visiting (and local) teams, what would it be?
Don’t forget to look up, the backdrop of the island is beautiful and we are so privileged to sail in such great conditions.
Of course, we want people to enjoy everything that the island has to offer, Sint Maarten is a beautiful cruising destination, which people often underestimate.
In the ideal world, how many races do you and the other organizers hope to score? Also, how many races will you run per day?
We are looking to do at least two races on each day.
What kinds of safe-play pandemic tactics are you expecting from the racers on the water? Also, what kind of shoreside Covid precautions will the event employ?
Out on the water people should be safe, [but] we do request participants to have face masks available on the boat, as well as hand sanitizer. This in case of emergencies when a third party would have to assist a boat or step up [so that] at least the Covid protocols can then be uphold.
Onshore, we limit social events to daily results on Saturday and overall prize-giving on Sunday. We don’t offer live music or other entertainment as in previous years, but the bar and restaurant at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club is open. We do ask everyone to wear facemasks, maintain social distance and use hand sanitizer at the onshore gatherings such as prize-giving.
Luckily our location allows for everyone to be spaced out and in the fresh air. We do recommend everyone to complete registration and payments online to reduce the contact at registration.
Can you tell us about any efforts that you and the other regatta organizers have made to try to lower the regatta’s environmental footprint or otherwise green-up the regatta?
We use one boat for all start and finishes, and indeed reduce the number of chase boats on the water where possible. In addition, we request volunteers to use reusable water bottles and fill these up at water stations.
Anything else that you’d like to add, for the record? We’re very proud of the loyal commitments of our sponsors, even more so this year during these challenging times. Their support allows us to make the event happen and to come back stronger in 2022!