While there will always be ratings complaints whenever two different boats race, it’s excellent to see the high-performance cruising cat fleet playing nice with one another for the always-enjoyable St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. Here’s one Gunboat 60 sailor’s breakdown of the performance and variables between the Gunboats, HH, Outremer, and the blazing fast and nosey Bieker 53 Fujin, shot above by Lorens Morel with a decent gallery here. Hit the thread to talk to crews from many of the boats, and thanks to SA’er ‘pyrat’ for the report. DISCLAIMER: SA has ties to every boat in this fleet, with Gunboat (and Outremer, a related company) and HH both advertising here, and Paul Bieker a long time SAer, which is why we’re not giving any opinions, and instead relying on a Gunboat sailors’ report. Got your own report from a Caribbean regatta? Send it in and see your name on the world famous Front Page.
Fujin is an entirely different beast from the rest of the class. Primarily, she’s about 10 tons lighter than the lightest GB, and something like 18 tons lighter than the HH… Fujin to me is much closer to a true racing multi than ‘what the rest of the world’ considers an offshore/luxury/cruising multi. That said, they cruise and sail that thing offshore and big props to them – very cool boat, very well sailed, and they deserve the trophy and then some – so no hate here at all, just saying, when you get past by that thing upwind (from a GB60) at nearly double your own boat speed, you realize that it would be silly to try and gauge your performance against their mark. I think it is equally as silly to try to handicap that machine with a GB, HH, or Outremer. Its like trying to rate a Swan 60 against an IMOCA 60.
The Outremer is an impressive boat for roughly a third of the price of the larger cats. She stuck on our hip boat-for-boat every race, and corrected out on top of us each time. I will point out that it was a very heavy weather regatta, and she likely benefitted from a smaller rig & sail plan vs the GB’s who required a reef some days, but still, props to them for sailing well and keeping the pressure on us on the water.
The HH was a monster upwind – walking over the entire fleet every windward leg (except Fujin) – but a total dog downwind. Word is that the next one (hull#3) is a different beast from this first one, and that ‘dog’ will not be among the adjectives that describe her on any point of sail. Very curious to see how she goes.
The most interesting matchup of the regatta for me was the two GB60’s. Flow has gone a bit further than Arethusa in the way of turbo’ing the boat (larger & lighter mainsail, primarily), but is still very much a comfortable/luxury cruising cat, and absolutely walked away from Arethusa on every leg. Both boats were well sailed without any major fuckups, slow-downs, or penalties. While it could be argued that Arethusa has fewer miles on the course and is further back along the learning curve with performance multi racing, the gap between the boats was surprising and impressive. Props to Flow for pushing the boat hard and showing everyone what’s capable on a 60 (or any of the NID boats). Hoping to see them, and eventually Arethusa, give the HH’s and faster 62’s a good fight in the future.
As far as ratings go – I think the new attempt is neccessary, well-intended, and properly backed. The leaders of the OA are going about it in the right way and spending the neccessary time, money, and effort on the algorithm. The behind the scenes meeting of the minds was impressive and eye-opening. The idea is to end this old argument (see above!!) about cruising vs racing multis. It is a fair argument to say that it is silly to go ‘so far’ with turboing a boat but not actually go all the way to ‘fully stripped race boat’. Most of the owners know that and agree. BUT they bought a fast boat because fast is fun, and the racing scene is addictive and competitive, and they want to have a chance against the other boats in the class, so an arms race is inevitable. If the new system works as it is supposed to, the owners who wish to live comfortably aboard their cruising boats for regattas (no stripping weight) will be able to compete fairly against the owners who DO go all the way towards full race boat. In that way, you can make the fast/cruising cat class whatever the hell you want to suit your preferences! To the naysayers who grumble that it is absurd to race around with an interior – look the hell around!! How many boats would be on the line at ANY of the Caribbean regattas if only dedicated racers were allowed? And how many sailors would get to experience racing? And learn to sail their boat better/faster? Get real guys!