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2018 St Barths Bucket Regatta

Caroline Blatter

Months of hard work pays off for the 2018 St. Barths Bucket Regatta superyacht spectacle!

The 23rd annual St Barths Bucket Regatta drew to a close on Sunday (18 March), a huge credit to this small beautiful island pulling together to recover its infrastructure in time for the event, following the devastating back-to-back hurricanes (Irma, José and Maria) of six months ago.

But recover it did, and in spectacular fashion!  The whole community came together to welcome 26 superyachts, ranging from Nautor’s Swan Leonara at 27.7m to the impressive M5’s 77.6m overall.

Entries were somewhat down on last year, but included three historic J Class Yachts, 40m Velsheda, 43m Topaz and 47m Svea.  Svea, whose lines were originally drawn in 1937, was launched only a year ago from Vitters Shipyard in Holland and yet won the J-class convincingly with four 1sts, the 5th being grabbed by Velsheda.  

The local efforts were strongly supported by the ‘Bucket Stewards’, and other partners and supporters, who gave plenty of help towards the restoration in the run up to the event.  “Never undersell the people of St. Barths,” said Race Director Peter Craig at the start of the event. “They all came together, and look what they accomplished. And, as for the competition, any time you get 26 superyachts together you’re going to get a good show.” 

The courses gave plenty of variation, enabling competitors to take in the sights of the island’s scenery and pristine beaches as well as the smaller outlying islands. They included the ‘Wrong Way Around’ the island course, and Friday’s ‘Not-so-Wiggley’ course - which did end up quite wiggly, as the fleet zig-zagged around Ile Fourchue, Roche Table and other natural turning marks on the western side of St. Barths.  Conditions were superb, testing every skill, ranging from good steady 15 knot breezes to gentle and oscillating winds. 

Five yachts emerged as individual class winners in the event after three  races over three days, all in timed-start pursuit style races. It was five races over four days for the three Js gracing the race course. Only one could be the overall winner though, and it was the 34m Nilaya, in class A, Les Gazelles des Mers, which took the ‘Bucket Trophy’ by qualifying as the winner of the ‘most competitive, closely contested class’ using a points system devised by the organisers. These 32-35m high performance yachts gave each other a good run, adapting well to the superyacht racing circuit.

In the four strong Class B, Les Elegantes des Mers, 35 metre ketch Sojana took two firsts against 42m Rebecca’s one. Class C’s Les Mademoiselles des Mers title went to sloop Farfalla after some close racing in the tight rating band of the 30m size range. 

The five-boat class for Les Grandes Dames des Mers (Class D) included the two 56m Perini Navis Rosehearty and Zenji. But it was the 36m sloop Whisper, sailing to a clean three win victory for the second year running, who was invincible.

The Corinthian Spirit Class, known as Les Voiles Blanche (Class E), was the largest class here with six entries.  The white sails only class was won by Vitters 33m sloop Missy taking two wins out of the three races.  She raced against the giant of the Bucket fleet, the 78m sloop M5, launched in 2003 as Mirabella V and the largest single-masted yacht ever built.

It is the special awards that always draw the most cheers – so for 2018 our congratulations go to…

Despite the damage across the island there were still plenty of venues for the event’s unparalleled nightlife and social programme of hospitality and music, including the Capitainerie in the Port of Gustavia and the Collectivité across the harbour which hosted Saturday’s Bucket Bash and Final Awards Ceremony and Party.

There is no doubt that the Bucket Regatta will be back bigger and stronger than ever in 2019 – it has seen as many as 40 entries and has the reputation of being the most popular superyacht regatta on the world calendar.  The organizers have kept a tight focus on maintaining the original camaraderie and non-commercial spirit of the event. 

Thankyou to the St Barths Bucket organisers & Barby MacGowan for the information on 

Photo’s by kind permission of Captain’s Recommended Photographers Claire Matches & Cory Silken

In Pictures