Allegra claims inaugural IMA Caribbean Maxi Multihull Series by a point

The first running of the International Maxi Association’s Caribbean Maxi Multihull Series concluded on Sunday with the end of the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival held out of Nanny Cay, Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. The new series recognises the growing part of maxi yachting – private owners who wish to race large, fast multihulls, either for their pure blistering speed, in the case of the MOD70 trimarans, or, in the case of the catamarans, because their performance, combined with their huge interiors, make them the ultimate cruiser-racers.

The Series kicked off with the Caribbean Multihull Challenge held in St Maarten at the beginning of February, continued mid-February with the RORC Caribbean 600 (the Series’ sole offshore race), returned north for St Maarten Heineken Regatta at the beginning of March before finishing last week in the BVI. The series featured ten 60+ft maxi multihulls. Ultimately the Nigel Irens-designed 84ft catamaran Allegra of Switzerland’s Adrian Keller won the inaugural IMA Caribbean Maxi Multihull Series by a single point over Todd Slyngstad’s HH66 catamaran Nemo.

In fact the accomplished, well-seasoned crew on Nemo, led by Slyngstad and including experienced American pro Ryan Braymaier, sailed supremely, winning their class both at the Caribbean Multihull Challenge and BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival. However a premium points co-efficient for the RORC Caribbean 600 just put Keller’s catamaran ahead.

Keller was delighted to win the first IMA Caribbean Maxi Multihull Series. He said: “Overall we did well, but if it is light wind, it is not for us and going up again MOD70s in light wind makes it doubly hard – but that’s sailing. We have enjoyed the Caribbean. We enjoyed the first two days here [in the BVI] a lot.”

For the first two races in the BVI – the Nanny Cay Round Tortola and Wednesday’s Scrubs Island Invitational – there was breeze and the mighty Allegra prevailed in both. “The around the island race was fun and provided the whole variety,” Keller continued. “Although we were only three boats [maxi catamarans], we were never more than two to three minutes apart. It was real racing.” During these races there were lead changes and the maxi catamarans were regularly flying their hulls.

While there were six in the Performance Multihull class, Allegra’s direct competition were Nemo and Don Wilson’s Gunboat 68 Convexity² with an all-star crew led by the Australia SailGP team’s Kinley Fowler and with Ocean Race winning skipper Charlie Enright calling tactics.

However there were significant differences between the trio, as Allegra’s Australian co-skipper Paul Larsen explained: “It is like getting into a dogfight with fighters in your four-engined bomber – Nemo and Convexity² are half our weight. They accelerate and can duck and dive and you try and put pressure on them and they can get out of that and turn the situation around.” Matters were made all the harder in the BVI when the wind turned light for the remainder of the event. “It has been a struggle, so for the big girl to still be able to punch her weight and come second in a sub-6 knot regatta is a pretty good result.” In the BVI Allegra was assisted for the first time on tactics by Paul ‘CJ’ Campbell-James, wing trimmer for the Canadian SailGP team.

“The racing was amazing,” continued Larsen of the first two days. “There was full flying, boat-on-boat and neck and neck racing. CJ doesn’t know the limits of the boat so he pushes the sail calls and I sit there and go ‘…alright…’ and let him make that call. So we have been pushing to learn things and see what the boat is capable of. If you bring on someone of that calibre you need to let them loose and then we can mop up later! It has been really good.” 

Perhaps most memorable to the maxi catamaran competitors was the spirit between the crews. During the Scrubs Island Invitational Convexity² blew up her headboard and the very top of her mast track but it was two crew from Allegra (both part of mast and deck hardware company Rigging Projects) who offered their services and were up Convexity²’s rig until the early hours of the following morning effecting a repair, so the US team could continue racing. “The next day after racing they [Convexity²’s crew] came over with a bunch of drinks and we invited our other competitor too [Nemo]. And yesterday we visited Nemo,” continued Keller.

Fortunately the giant expanse of cabin and deck area makes these catamarans perfect for hosting large parties fuelled by, as Larsen described it “the four gallons of Painkillers [the local rum-based BVI cocktail],” Convexity²’s crew brought them.

From here Allegra heads north to the US for the Newport Bermuda Race before returning to Europe where she will take part in the IMA’s new Mediterranean Maxi Multihull Challenge. The trophy for the IMA Caribbean Maxi Multihull Series will be presented to Keller at the Association’s Annual Members Dinner in Porto Cervo in September. The IMA Caribbean Maxi Multihull Series will take place again in 2025.

by James Boyd / International Maxi Association

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