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Two horse race as the IMA's 2024 Caribbean Maxi Multihull Series heads for its BVI conclusion

by James Boyd / International Maxi Association 29 Mar 09:18 PDT 2-7 April 2024
Despite her voluminous interior, Nemo can be sailed like a race boat © Ingrid Abery / www.ingridabery.com

Next week the International Maxi Association's inaugural Caribbean Maxi Multihull Series (CMMS) has its deciding event in the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival, taking place out of Nanny Cay, Tortola over 2-7 April.

Open to yachts of 60+ft the IMA Caribbean Maxi Multihull Series comprises four events; one offshore and three inshores. The Series started at the beginning of February with the St Maarten Yacht Club's Caribbean Multihull Challenge and was followed by the RORC Caribbean 600 and St Maarten Heineken Regatta.

After three events, the IMA Caribbean Maxi Multihull Series is close with Adrian Keller's 84ft Irens-designed catamaran Allegra holding a narrow lead over Todd Slyngstad's HH66 catamaran Nemo. Allegra came second in class in the RORC Caribbean 600 to Jason Carroll's MOD70 Argo, while Nemo won the Caribbean Multihull Challenge ahead of Riccardo Pavoncelli's Gunboat 66 Mana.

Nemo and her San Francisco-based owner Todd Slyngstad are regular BVI visitors. "It is one of my favourite places - it is like Disneyland for sailors! Everything is close; there are fun beach bars and plenty of night life. I love it - I've been going for 20 years." In fact he and his family have just returned from cruising there on Nemo.

This will be at least his fourth participation at the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival with Nemo. "We have done pretty well - last year we were first to finish every race, but our handicap is tough and we couldn't correct out on the others."

Nemo is an HH66, designed by Morrelli & Melvin, built in China but fitted out in the USA with a spec designed for high performance, especially in light conditions. This bodes well for next week: "The trade winds look pretty light - 12-14 knots and even lighter towards the end. That plays into our hands really well - we have a 30m tall rig and the Caribbean Multihull Challenge was in very light winds too. So I hope that forecast holds true."

Three maxi catamarans are competing next week. Adrian Keller's team on Allegra is the most experienced and will certainly perform well. Then there are the new, but extremely talented, kids on the block on the Gunboat 68 Convexity" of Chicago-based Don Wilson. Wilson is a four time M32 catamaran World Champion and his team includes Kiwi Kinley Fowler, currently also flight controller for the Australia SailGP team, and Ocean Race winning skipper Charlie Enright on tactics.

"I am super excited to line up against Convexity and Allegra - they are two unknowns for us," says Slyngstad., who's own crew includes trimaran and IMOCA round the world sailor Ryan Breymaier and other talent. Sadly this year Slyngstad will not be racing his elder brother Greg who's catamaran Fujin is up for sale.

Of the IMA's Caribbean Maxi Multihull Series he concludes: "I think it is a good idea: Everyone needs a little push to go out there and compete. It gives it a little more traction with the owners."

12 years ago Paul Larsen became the fastest sailor on the planet when his Vestas SailRocket established a new record of 65.45 knots. Today as Allegra's co-skipper, he agrees: "It has to be a good thing. These catamarans are built for this type of sailing - cruising between the Caribbean islands and then racing. The Series strings these events together in a co-ordinated way, so crew can plan around it."

Larsen has previously raced in the BVI on the trimaran Paradox: "From memory - it is beautiful and is a great Caribbean regatta. The last time was fairly light and tight racing. Obviously we like a bit of breeze. The courses will be coastal, like we had in Porto Cervo." Last September Allegra won the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, which for the first time had a multihull class. There they lined up against Convexity", Don Wilson's team sailing its first event in the new Gunboat 68. Given Convexity"'s all-star cast, Allegra has its own former America's Cup sailor - Paul Campbell-James, currently with the Canadian SailGP team: "It'll be the first time we have raced with a dedicated tactician. If it is close on handicap, we can sit on top of them [Convexity] a bit and make it hard for them to pass." Convexity", like Nemo, prefers lighter conditions, so it may require all of Campbell-James' match racing skill for Allegra to prevail.

BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival sets sail on Tuesday (2 April) with the Nanny Cay Round Tortola Race and then the Scrub Island Invitational on Wednesday. After a layday there is Mount Gay Race Day and two further days of windward-leewards and coastals on the BVI's magnificent Sir Francis Drake Channel. The event concludes on Sunday (7 April), when the first IMA Caribbean Maxi Multihull Series winner will be decided.

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