2024 Caribbean Multihull Challenge
Published on February 4th, 2024
While February is the windiest month of the year in the Caribbean, Mother Nature missed the memo as the 2024 Caribbean Multihull Challenge had a bit less for the sixth edition held February 1-4 in Sint Maarten. However, the show went on with a 12-race series for the Diam 24 and CSA fleets while 16 entrants in the Rally division toured the region.
Report from CMC:
After a challenging four-days of unusual Caribbean light weather, the Most Worthy Performer prize went to Alexis de Boucaud’s Diam 24 Merlin, which strung together eight victories in a 12-race series to win the expertly driven 10-boat class of sprightly trimarans.
In presenting the award, CMC steering committee member Robbie Ferron had high praise for the popular, growing fleet of one-design multihulls, which are taking the island by storm. “The Caribbean has never seen a fleet of this quality with racing this close and competitive,” he said. “It was very, very impressive.”
In accepting the award, de Boucaud heaped high praise on his close-knit crew comprised of tactician Benoit Champanhac and floater Ivan Skobtsoy. “We weighed in at 257 kilos —the minimum weight in the class is 220 kilos — and we were definitely the heaviest of all the Diams,” said du de Boucaud. “We were worried in the light air that we’d be hammered.”
Instead, they took the class in rather dominating fashion, finishing the regatta by winning three of the last four races. “We spent two days prepping the boat beforehand, and then practiced for a day-and-a-half,” he continued. “Teamwork was the key. We had really good, aggressive, excellent starts. We quickly saw that Erick Clement’s Karibuni was going to be our main competition, so we had our eyes on them like hawks. We covered them on every tack and jibe, it was like match racing. Anticipate, anticipate, anticipate, that’s what we tried to do. In the end, it was really about flawless maneuvering more than anything else.”
There was no shortage of rock-star talent in the CSA 1 class, with a pair of 66-foot heavyweights trading punches throughout the 8-race series. Aboard Ricardo Pavoncelli’s Gunboat 66 Mana, the crew included two offshore legends: Brit Brian Thompson and Frenchman Loick Peyron. But American Todd Slynstad’s squad on Nemo was no slouch, and included pro sailors Ryan Breymaier, Mat Bryant, and Jan Majer. It was a winning combination, as Nemo registered three bullets on the final day of racing to seal the CSA 1 championship.
“I always worry about coming here to St. Maarten with Nemo because the trade winds typically blow much more than what we had, but this time they didn’t,” said Slyngstad. “The whole regatta kind of fell right into our wheelhouse and played to our strengths. We were able to utilize all of our tools. It was fun and not too stressful.”
Slyngstad had high praise for the CMC organizers, and also revealed that the regatta was also a swan song of sorts for Nemo. “This regatta is always fun, it’s such a great place to sail and everyone does a great job,” he said. “Nemo has been a great boat but I’m going to move up now to a MOD 70 trimaran and hope to move up a notch in boat speed and have some more fun.”
As Slyngstad noted, with the usual easterly trades on hiatus, the conditions were unlike what the Caribbean generally dashes up. In fact, with no breeze whatsoever on the event’s third day with high pressure settled atop St. Maarten, principal race officer Chris Mansfield was forced to cancel the day’s competition. But Mansfield and his team did an excellent job taking what the weather gods offered, and was able to conduct three fine days of competition.
The weather presented few issues for the 16 yachts in the Rally portion of the event, which visited Great Bay, Orient Bay, Anse Marcel and St. Barth’s over the course of their travels, a movable feast which featured shoreside parties, music and food all along the way.
When all was over, at the prizegiving a pair of Rally entries also scored awards: Pierre Yves-Legris’s Alibi 65 Surprise won the time trials in which boats were challenged to predict their expected times of each leg of the Rally. And Ron Boehm’s Antrim Perry 52 Little Wing took home a pair of prizes, for both the Navigational Challenge and the Bingo Card Challenge, in which the Rally boats were charged with completing a host of tasks along the way.
Elaine Lembo, the editor of the popular Caribbean Compass island sailing magazine, sailed in the Rally aboard the Sunsail 424 charter boat Midsixty. “It was such a great experience,” she said. “You can bring your own boat or charter one. It’s a great opportunity to go sailing, be in the warmth and sunshine, and meet so many like-minded souls. What’s not to like?”
In summation, long time sponsor and CMC supporter Chris Marshall of F.K.G. Rigging said, “CMC VI was another wonderful, very successful event. The light air meant they couldn’t run the big distance races like the FKG 60 Mile Sprint sponsored by our firm, but that’s sailboat racing.
“The organizers certainly think this year was an outlier, so they’ll be back stronger than ever in 2025 with a full slate of inshore and offshore racing, the Cruising Rally, and the great shoreside activities at the St. Maarten Yacht Club and other venues. We will be there and we will try again for the Sprint. See you then.”