December 9' 2009 - #110
Piteå Day & Gustavia Loppet
In commemoration of Sweden’s retrocession of St Barth to France in 1878, and the 31-year twinning of St Barth and Piteå in Sweden, ASBAS and the Collectivity of St Barth organized a weekend of festivities on November 14 and 15. A highlight of the weekend was the 19th edition of the Gustavia Loppet, or Swedish marathon, which started for the first time on the beach in Public, with the race threading through the streets of Gustavia twice, then back to Public. This popular event included a 10km marathon for experienced runners, an 8km health walk, and mini-races for kids in the sports stadium in St Jean on Saturday afternoon. More than 200 kids took part in these races, which ranged from 460 meters for the youngest to 1360 meters for the oldest. The next morning, there were 84 runners, including men and women from St Barth, as well as from Guadeloupe, Martinique, Sweden, and St Martin, on the starting line for the 10km race. Another first this year: an electronic sensor was attached to one shoe of each runner allowing for precise timing in the race. Last year’s winner, Eddy Boulate, also took first place this year, with a time of 31 minutes and 46 seconds. Claudine Patini from Martinique was the first woman to cross the finish line, earning her 12th place, with St Barth resident Carole Pernelle coming in 40th in the overall standings.
St Barth Cata Cup
The non-profit association, St Barth Multihulls, organized the second annual St Barth Cata Cup (after an earlier version of the race was cancelled in 1995 after hurricane Luis) on November 20-22, 2009, with activities based on St Jean beach. The event attracted participants from Belgium, Holland, France, Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, Martinique, St Martin, St Maarten, and of course St Barth. The limit of 35 teams set by the organizers was quickly reached, as word of mouth among sailors helped promote the event, encouraging the committee in their quest to see the Cata Cup evolve into one of the major Formula 18 events on the world circuit. Racers were also pleased with their warm welcome on the island, and that the transport of their boats, their lodging, and most meals were covered by the organizers. To make sure the organization was as tightly run as an event like the Transat Ag2r, the committee from St Barth Multihulls found a group of solid partners: the Collectivity of St Barth, the CTTSB (tourism office), RMP Caraïbes for the transport of the catamarans, the hotel association and private individuals for housing the racers, the restaurant La Plage, and the CNSB (St Barth Nautical Center). The international roster included many of the world’s best racers in the Formula 18 racing catamaran class, some of whom had also participated in the world championships in Belgium last July. The title-holding Dutch duo of Mischa Heemskerk, 2007 world champion, and teammate Eduard Zanen won the 2009 Cata Cup, beating out the tandem from Puerto Rico, Enrique Figueroa (Hobie 16 world champion and Olympic athlete) and Victor Aponte, as well as Belgians Patrick Demesmaeker/Olivier Gagliani, who came in third. The races on Friday and Saturday comprised spectacular around-the-island itineraries with buoys in the bays of Gouverneur and Saline, as well as at the entry to the Port of Gustavia. Southeast winds up to 16-18 knots allowed for some good racing at high speeds for some of the races. On Sunday, the last races took place in the bay of St Jean, followed by the awards ceremony in the late afternoon. The organizers also thought of the young members of the St Barth Nautical Center and help windsurfing races for them, as well as races for the young sailors of the St Barth Yacht Club on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. On Monday, all of the participants enjoyed lunch on Pinel island, after a final, friendly regatta.
Les Voiles de St Barth
During a press conference on November 20, The Collectivity of St Barth, the Tourism Committee of St Barth (CTTSB), and the St Barth Yacht Club announced a new sailing event, Les Voiles de Saint Barth, which is open to all sailboats, from classic and contemporary to super yachts, racing cruisers and multi-hull racing boats. Six days of regattas from April 6-11 should attract quite a diverse fleet of yachts from around the world, for the simple pleasure of races set against the beautiful tropical backdrop of St Barth. The idea to create such an event indigenous to St Barth has its roots in the colorful nautical past of the island, from the St Barth Regattas organized by LouLou Magras in the 1970s, with as many as 200 boats in the harbor, to the Transat Ag2r and St. Barth Bucket which has evolved over the past 15 years. This new event was championed by François Tolède, a member of the CTTSB and responsible for event planning at the St Barth Yacht Club. “We hope to attract important American sailboats that spend the winter navigating in the Caribbean,” explains Luc Poupon, race director. “We are in contact with some of the most beautiful boats in the world, from maxi-yachts to racing cruisers, and we are hoping to have at least 100 boats, both classic and modern, in this first edition.” This means that come April 2010, the who’s who of the international yachting world will be present in the Port of Gustavia. “80% of the sailors will be Anglo-Saxon,” adds Lucky Poupon, “But the boats are coming from around the world, not only the USA, but also Mexico, South America, and we even have had requests from Poland and Hong Kong. This will be the perfect occasion to discover beautiful yachts, many of which do not navigate in Europe.” These top yachts often have some of the world’s greatest skippers at the helm (Peter Holmberg, Russell Coutts…), who will enjoy spectacular races in St Barth, with activities on shore that highlight the best things in life… Les Voiles de St Barth also features acclaimed photographer Patrick Demarchelier as special guest, and the Collectivity of St Barth hopes to make this an annual event on the international nautical calendar, both for world-class sailors and those who love to watch such beautiful boats out on the water. A race village will be created on the Quai Général de Gaulle, while the weather station (Espace Météo) will be reserved for sponsors. The total budget for the event is estimated at 265,000 Euros, with the Collectivity financing the first 100,000 Euros, leaving the organizers to find the remaining 165,000 Euros. Contact has been made with leading international brands, and local businesses are also being solicited.
More to come