St. Barth is the perfect location for a race like this, and today’s weather could not have been more amenable. With medium winds and flat seas, the first day of the St. Barth Bucket Regatta was simply grand, as the graceful giants sailed around the island in a race built for fun.
Thirty-five yachts, from the 24 m Hoek-designed Drumfire, to the 58 m Perini Navi Seahawk, bobbed gracefully as they rubbed oversized bumpers, almost anxious to start. As crews began to wake up and attend to their tasks, the town of Gustavia graciously welcomed sailors and visitors alike with fabulous French breakfast staples from great bakeries like Boulangerie Choisy, or Boulangerie Central if you’re over in Lorient. But, I digress.
The yachts, prepping for the first of three days of racing, are divided into four classes, Les Gazelles, Les Elegantes, Les Mademoiselles, and Les Grand Dames. The course for Day 1 was 20 nm for Mademoiselles and Grandes Dames, and 25 nm for Gazelles and Elegantes.
New and noteworthy in this year’s entries, along with the comparably diminutive Drumfire, were Wally’s Tripp-designed Better Place, and Royal Huisman’s 46m vision of chic, Elfje, who ended day one in third place in Les Elegantes. Elfje, crowned a Showboat design award winner proved she’s got not just form, but also function. Also of note, the transition to new ownership of the race went smoothly, as sponsors Perini Navi, Royal Huisman, Vitters, and Rybovich took over the reins, replacing ISYR and Bucket rules with ORCsy. The new superyacht rules will accommodate the wide discrepancies between the yachts in assigning handicaps.
Baltic Yacht’s 33 m Win Win led Les Gazelles at the end of race 1, while last year’s winner, Vitters 54 m ketch Marie took the lead in Les Elegantes, the 27 m Brooklyn BY Bequia led Les Mademoiselles, and the Perini Navi 56 m ketch Rosehearty led Les Grandes Dames. As the last yacht finished around 3:00, the focus shifted from the race, to the place, gathering everyone under the Bucket tents for evening festivities and announcements.
Tomorrow’s course will follow the “Not So Wiggly” route, winding its way around Roche Table, Ile Pele, Roche le Bouf, Ile Fourchue, and the Groupers. Then Sunday will find the crews doing their best as they head “The Wrong Way Around” the island.
The quay is now packed with a mix of sailors, residents, and visitors, busily bellying up to the Bucket Bar and recapping the day with a drink. The dock party and fleet open house are about to begin, with casual conviviality introducing sailors, owners, fans, and friends to each other in one big event.
Most celebrants will turn in early, if they’re serious about their sport, but others welcome the opportunity to dance tabletop at LeTi, or continue the evening at Le Yacht Club, Baz Bar, or any of dozens of other great perches. I almost hate to say this, knowing that the weather is still not great where many of you are reading this from, but you really should be here. Next year?
SY/Drumfire Classen Shipyard: http://claasenshipyards.com/
SY/Better Place Charter World: http://www.charterworld.com/
SY/Win Win Baltic Yacht’s: http://www.superyachttimes.com/