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An epic fleet of catamarans and trimarans assembling for the Caribbean Multihull Challenge

by Herb McCormick 15 Jan 2020 05:43 PST 14-16 February 2020
Arawak Caribbean Multihull Challenge 2019 © Herb McCormick

The countdown for the second annual Caribbean Multihull Challenge is on, and an eclectic fleet of catamarans and trimarans are starting to feel their collective need for speed. Eighteen yachts, ranging in size from 28- to 70-feet, have already entered the Caribbean's best and only dedicated regatta for racing and cruising multis. The CMC will commence in just a little over a month, and is scheduled for February 14-16 in the wind-swept waters off Sint Maarten. It promises to be epic.

One of the primary reasons for the excitement is the highly anticipated match-up of a pair of the world's fastest, boldest one-design trimarans: the MOD 70s Argo, skippered by American Jason Carroll, and Maserati, whose captain is the one-and-only Giovanni Soldini, the vastly experienced Italian globetrotter. Argo and Maserati will be using the CMC as a tune-up for the upcoming Caribbean 600, a strategy employed by last year's CMC winner Fujin to great success. The match race between the powerful 70-foot tris should be nothing less than classic.

One of the most alluring aspects of the CMC, however, is that it's not just for Grand Prix thoroughbreds: it's an equal opportunity, all-inclusive event for all boats with multiple hulls. And there's a host of excellent, dual-purpose racer/cruisers coming back for their second CMC to prove that point. Among them are Bernard "Appie" Stoutenbeek's lovely, classic Newick trimaran Tryst, which earned the regatta's Style & Grace prize in 2019. Another set of returning local craft are Petro Jonker's Seaduction and Ian Martin's Spellbound, popular Leopard catamarans from the renowned South African builder Robertson & Caine. Spellbound, sailing with a crew of young islanders last year, took top honors in Class C, and will be looking to defend their title in February.

Several other production builders will also be represented in the CMC, including another Leopard, a 50-footer owned by Georges Coutu called La Novia, and two of the sweet, French Outremere cats: Tortuga, campaigned by German sailor Rüdiger Schiller, and David Slater's Delphine, sailing under the Canadian flag. Another cat built in France is the Catana 39 Cassandra, another snowbird from Canada helmed by Michael Taylor. This international group of far-flung voyagers are sending a clear message to other cruisers in the Caribbean this winter: the CMC is open and inviting, and waiting for your entry!

Of course, production boats aren't the only way to skin a cat, and there are several intriguing custom boats that will be making their debut in the 2020 CMC. Among them are Jeff Mearing's 63-foot tri Shockwave, with a homeport of the U.S. sailing capital Newport, R.I.; Aussie skipper Brett Trevillianon's 53-foot tri Finn; and the United Kingdom's 53-foot cat 2 2 Tango, owned by Anthony McVeigh.

All of these sleek vessels will face local favorite Arawak, a custom 52-footer designed by Joubert-Nivelt and sailed by Rodney Williams and the Island Water World team. Arawak put on an impressive show last year by not only winning Class B but also being honored with the regatta's Most Outstanding Performance award, which won them a brand-new timepiece from Oris Watches, one of the regatta's premier sponsors. Other returning entries from Sint Maarten include Mitch Sylvano's sweet 28-footer, Enola, and Jean-Michel Ricour's sleek cat Guimamalou.

Once again, the distinguished Sint Maarten Yacht Club will be the CMC's host club, but in a departure from the 2019 running, the event is partnering with the Yacht Club Port De Plaisance, and the first 20 boats to register and pay will receive free docking at the facility's world-class marina for the duration of the regatta. The dedicated "homeport" of Port De Plaisance for the event is another ongoing evolution in the Caribbean's premier regatta for catamaran and trimarans.

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