F18 Class has the wind in its sails again – A few weeks from now, the eighth edition of the international St-Barth Cata Cup will bring together 120 amateur and professional F18 racers in an idyllic location. Year in and year out, the regatta demonstrates the enduring appeal of the F18 Class.
Despite the challenges it faces with the arrival of foiling, the growing number of boats (GC32, A Cat, Diam 24, F16) and the choice of the Nacra17 as the official equipment for the Olympics, the F18 Class is still very much in favour with amateurs and professionals alike, who do not miss any opportunity to sail it. Benjamin Amiot, who sails with Flying Phantom and Gitana, explains why he’s coming back to the St-Barth Cata Cup.
“There’s always a high level of competition at this regatta, with people from the Olympics and ocean racing, and for us it’s an excellent way to compete at the end of the season. It’s true that recently we have used boats other than the F18, but we’ve always enjoyed sailing this platform, and even more so in the St-Barth.
The vitality of the F18 Class
According to James Baeckler, president of the Association Française de F18, numerous local races and events held in each country ensure continued interest in the Class.
“There’s an F18 regatta every weekend somewhere. In France alone, there are more than 10 races, each attracting at least 30 teams in the season.
And there are the iconic events that are the stuff of dreams: St-Barth Cata Cup, Round Texel, Stockholm Archipelago and Raid des Corsaires, as well as those that are no longer held, which are behind the origins of the Class, such as the Cata World Cup and the China Sea race in the 1990s .”
In addition, the Class holds a world championship event every year, bringing together competitors from several continents. This year’s event in Kiel, Germany, saw the re-crowning of champions Gunnar Larsen and Ferdinand van West. “We were treated to an excellent show at the Worlds, with an exciting level of competition and an enviable fleet, ” explained Bas Paumen, president of the F18 Class in the Netherlands. “ I think we’re seeing a b resurgence of interest in the F18, especially here at home, where we had this year no fewer than 20 teams to represent the country at the Worlds. ”
The next world championships will take place from October twenty-eight to November four, 2016, in Argentina, where the F18 Class clearly has the wind in its sails.
The F18: a class for everyone
The popularity of the F18 is due undoubtedly to its accessibility and great versatility. It has been refined over the years and has proven it can do it all: perform around three buoys and travel long distances in a raid. “When you look at those sailing the F18 in 2015, the raid is the most popular event, since it offers adventure, discovery and wide open spaces. Over the years, it has become the 4X4 of sport catamarans,” said Mr. Baeckler.
The F18 has no equal when it comes to ownership costs and performance. It is also used for training young sailors, so they can measure up to F18 legends such as Billy Besson and Darren Bundock, who always return to the Class whenever the opportunity arises.
St-Barth Cata Cup: promotional event for the F18
As an event par excellence for both amateurs and professionals in the F18 Class, the St- Barth Cata Cup has risen to the top ranks of regattas that offer a high level of competition. Many of the world’s sailing greats have competed in the Class, including Franck Cammas, Thierry Fouchier, Darren Bundock, Billy Besson, Yvan Bourgnon, Morgan Lagravière, Jérémie Lagarrigue and Marie Riou.
The success of the F18 Class is founded on events such as this. ‘These regattas ensure the success and longevity of a class. Without great races, there would be no boats or happy sailors,” concluded Mr. Baeckler.