The fourth and final day of the 11th St. Barth Cata Cup was expected to be decisive, at least for second and third place.
But things turned out completely differently than anticipated. The reason? A huge mistake made by the Greeks, Iordanis Paschalidis and Konstantinos Trigonis (St Barth Assurances).
In fact, well on their way to a fifth straight race win, and first place in the overall rankings, the current world champions took the marker in the wrong direction going in the wrong direction. A mistake they won’t soon forget as it pushed them from first to fourth place. Yet this error worked to the advantage of duo Enrique Figueroa and Ruben Booth (Nikki Beach St Barth), winners of the “MARCHE U” Grand Prize, and especially for the tandem of Patrick Demesmaeker and Olivier Gagliani (Les Perles de St Barth), who at the end of the day, shot to the top step of the podium and became the big winners of this regatta, repeating their 2015 victory. They have now joined Misha Heemskerk and Eduard Zanen in the very small circle of double winners for this event.
What an improbable scenario, a little crazy even, for the fourth day of racing at the St. Barth Cata Cup. In fact, it was hard to imagine what could keep Greeks Iordanis Paschalidis and Konstantinos Trigonis from sailing to a second consecutive victory, as they had dominated the races so completely up until today. But finally it was the Belgians who triumphed. Here’s why: an unthinkable error by the world champions during the final section of the daily race, after they were head and shoulders above the others up to that point. “After the tour around the island, arriving in the bay of Saint Jean, before heading toward Public, we went around the marker in the wrong direction, with the buoy on the starboard side rather than portside. That cost us the race, and it was definitely a big error on our part. It’s tough because that ruined our race, and it’s all the more infuriating for us as it’s the second time that happened this week—we had already made an error on the routing of the first race. It’s regrettable, but that’s how it is,” comments Konstantinos Trigonis, who naturally retired from the race once he understood his error, and that opened the door for his competition who had not hoped for anything quite like this. First in that door were Belgians Patrick Demesmaeker and Olivier Gagliani, who leaped at the opportunity.
“We were slightly surprised. This morning we were still crossing our fingers to be able to remain on the podium after this final regatta, as we were only three points ahead of our closest competitors. Frankly, we headed out on the water with a lot of pressure on our shoulders, and as it happens our start wasn’t all that fantastic. Yet we moved into 12th place on the windward side on the island and we continued to battle and believe we could do it. It all finally played out on the last leg of the race. Trois Pommes (Olivier), pulled off a tactical move with this magic wand, and that allowed us to come back and finish in fourth place today. This saved the regatta for us and even gave us the overall victory. It’s simply incredible!” explains Patrick Demesmaeker, who can hardly believe it. “It’s certain we never thought that would happen, even if we did sail very regularly this week. With Trois Pommes, we have sailed together for 10 years on the F18 circuit, but over the 10 years this only happens once a year, at the St. Barth Cata Cup. Here, we beat some of the big champions. We are still a little shaken up by what happened today. It will take some time to digest,” adds the Belgian skipper with emotion in his voice, while the racers were waiting for the verdict of the final controls after getting back to shore, as the first three boats finished with the exact same number of points, which needed to be counted and recounted!
The Three Leaders: Equal Number of Points
“In accordance with international racing rules, in the case of an equality of points, it’s the number of places for the first boat that is the deciding, then the number of places for the second boat, if needed, and so on. That was what gave the Belgians their advantage but it also proved how close the competition really was,” relates Ruben Booth, a bit taken aback by the turn of events. “The overall rankings depended on this last race, but we thought that the Greeks were could not be budged from first place. They made a fatal error. It’s really a finish we didn’t expect because that ejected them from the podium, but that’s sailing for you: until you cross the finish line, anything can happen,” points out Ruben, the 18 year-old son of Mitch Booth, who we are sure to hear a lot more about.
The Argentineans Pablo Volker and Sergio Mehl (Paraboot by Maxwell & Co) were left a little less than satisfied after this last race, a tour around the island, which they finished in 11th place, their worst score for the entire week. “We finished second in four races and really hoped to finish in second place overall, the position we held this morning. But hey, we’ll admit that for a first participation in this event, and in light of the level of the competition, third place isn’t so bad.”
For more information visit the event website, stbarthcatacup.com/gbr
by St. Barth Cata Cup Press