St. Barths Bucket Regatta boats in action (Photo © Cory Silken)

The 30th edition of the St Barths Bucket will sail back into St. Barths  March 16-19. This year the fleet is 38 beautiful superyachts including six J Class boats battling it out for the historic Bucket trophy. Beyond the sailing, there’s a strong emphasis on ‘winning the party’ rather than the race, and as such, owners, guests and crew can look forward to celebrating in unparalleled style after hours.

In 1995, the beautiful French island of St Barths hosted its first Bucket Regatta and it has done so in March every year since then. Although the size of the yachts and competing fleet has grown significantly, the spirit of the event has remained unchanged. In recent years, 40 or more superyachts have gathered to compete for the Bucket in glamorous St Barths.

The magic in St Barths takes place both on and off the water, when the owners and crews fill the yacht haven before and after racing, with the special yacht Hop taking place on the Saturday evening. In keeping with the tradition, Perini Navi will host owners and guests at Casa Perini for memorable evenings overlooking Gustavia throughout the week.

The entire fleet will compete to take home the ‘Bucket’ trophy. While the stunning silver Perini Navi trophy will also be presented to the best classified Perini Navi competing in St Barths, won in 2016 by the talented crew onboard P2.

“We continue the commitment to maintaining the legendary “Spirit of the Bucket” — that wonderful balance of camaraderie,competition, sportsmanship and, of course, fun,” say the Event Stewards.

“Magnificent yachts from around the world are here for incomparable racing in the unspoiled waters off St Barthélemy. With many of the world’s most elegant and impressive superyachts in attendance, a fantastic J Class, and the debut of the Les Voiles Blanche (Corinthian Spirit) class, together we will write another distinguished chapter in the history of this regatta,” added the organizers.

 About teamwork:

 “We try hard to keep the same crew, because continuity is important to everything,” said Seahawk’s captain Gerhard Veldsman. “The more you can keep the same people, the better you end up sailing the boat, because everyone ends up knowing its limitations.”

 About evolution:

“The Superyacht game is heating up at a pretty rapid pace, and all in a good way,” said Peter Holmberg, helmsman of Rosehearty . “The owners are wanting to play harder and  faster, so the competitive side of it is going up and up and up. But like any segment of a sport that grows at this rate, you always have parts that are not up to speed.  A while back, safety was our first concern: we didn’t have clear rules to keep us all safe, so we realized that was a weakness in the game. (Ed: ISAF’s Appendix SY and heightened overall awareness has helped). Then the rating became the challenged portion of this game and the ORCsy Rule was developed and brought in here last year to fix that.”

 About the ORCsy Rule

“We’re happy with the system and how it rates the boats, because it’s creating exactly what we want out of pursuit superyacht racing, where it’s all about the tactics and good sailing coming into the finish,” said P2’s tactician Tony Rey. “Considering how different these boats are from each other, it’s quite an achievement for the ORCsy to have done this in one year, to be able to step back and just let us race each other and have it be this close on the score sheet and on the water. The basic concept is that they’ve used much more of a database analysis of the performance of the boats; there has been great transparency in terms of how they are coming up with the ratings; and they are listening to the owners and sailors.”

 About the experience:

“It’s almost heart stopping when you duck another J, because the helmsman turns the wheel and it’s 10-20 seconds before anything happens other than working out his arms,” said Ranger’s navigator Peter Isler, “The delays in ducking, close tacking or making any quick maneuver are just wild; it’s not like driving your sports car. It’s all judgement.”

What They Said… about the 016 St Barths Bucket Regatta

 “It’s a gathering, a rendezvous: a celebration of these great yachts, the owners , the crew and friends, with a regatta in the middle.” -Bruce Brakenhoff

Charities helped each year by the Bucket Entrants

 Each year the Bucket Regatta designates a portion of the entry fee for donation to a meaningful non-profit program in St Barths.

The Youth Sailing Program at the St Barths Yacht Club will receive the 2017 donation.

The St Barths Yacht Club is an active sailing school and their priority is the youth of St Barths. Here the children learn to respect each other and their environment, the sea. They also learn how to be responsible and cooperative in the pursuit of their goals.

SBYC offers many programs starting at very early ages. On an island learning to sail is as important as learning to swim. The St Barths Yacht Club tries its best to motivate and support its young people. Over 400 children participate every year.

The SBYC is not a conventional yacht club. Resources and budgets are far more limited than what one would expect to find in a typical club. The Bucket donation makes a significant and meaningful difference.

What They Said… about the 2016 St Barths Bucket Regatta

 “It’s a gathering, a rendezvous: a celebration of these great yachts, the owners , the crew and friends, with a regatta in the middle.” -Bruce Brakenhoff

The Yachts

38 yachts will race in this year’s event, ranging from 30 – 88 metres in length and with a speed differential from the fastest to the slowest in fleet of over four minutes per mile. Entrants for 2017, divided into five different classes, include; Unfurled, built by Vitters in collaboration with designer German Frers and the winner of last year’s race; Maltese Falcon, the biggest (and arguably most recognisable) yacht in the regatta at 88m, built by Perini Navi for the late Tom Perkins; and the elegant 48m Wisp, launched by Dutch shipyard Royal Huisman back in 2014. This year’s event also marks the debut of the Corinthian Spirit Class (Les Voiles Blanche), which offers a more lighthearted alternative to what is becoming an increasingly competitive race. Yachts in this class, which include the 56m Perini Bayesian and the 43m Koo by Vitters, will have no spinnakers and will require far less race preparation – which organisers hope will address a downward trend in entry numbers. This year also sees a record six J Class boats (originally introduced in the 1930s to compete in the America’s Cup) taking part in the race, including the 43m sloop, Topaz and the 44m Lionheart, both built in the last decade using unrealised designs from the 1930s.

 You can track the boats on the course each day on  TracTrac 

Photo © Michael Kurtz

Pursuit Class Entries — ORCsy
Yacht Builder Designer Model
Action (37m) Royal Huisman Dykstra NA sloop
Adela (55m) Pendennis Dykstra NA schooner
Aquarius (47m) Perini Navi Perini Navi ketch
Axia (38m) Palmer Johnson S&S ketch
Danneskjold (32m) Performance Yacht Dixon sloop
Elena of London (55m) F.N.M. Herreshoff schooner
Elfje (46m) Royal Huisman Hoek ketch
Ganesha (46m) Vitters Shipyard Dubois sloop
Huckleberry (39m) Alloy Yachts Langan ketch
L’ondine (30m) Southern Wind Farr sloop
Leopard3 (30m) McConaghy Farr sloop
Maltese Falcon (88m) Perini Navi Dykstra NA schooner
Meteor (52m) Royal Huisman Dykstra NA schooner
Nikata (35m) Baltic Nauta / J/V sloop
Ningaloo (45m) Vitters Shipyard Dubois sloop
P2 (38m) Perini Navi Briand sloop
Perseus^3 (60m) Perini Navi Ron Holland sloop
Q (52m) Alloy Dubois ketch
Rebecca (43m) Pendennis Frers ketch
Rosehearty (56m) Perini Navi Holland ketch
Sojana (35m) Custom Farr Farr ketch
Spiip (34m) Royal Huisman Frers sloop
Sunleigh (33m) Jongert Tony Castro sloop
Unfurled (46m) Vitters Shipyard German Frers sloop
Varsovie (31m) Nautor Swan Frers sloop
Visione (45m) Baltic Yachts Reichel-Pugh sloop
Win Win (33m) Baltic Yachts Javier Jaudenes sloop
Wisp (48m) Royal Huisman Hoek sloop
Zenji (56m) Perini Navi Ron Holland ketch
Pursuit Class Entries – ORCcs Les Voiles Blanche (Corinthian Spirit)
Yacht Builder Designer Model
Bayesian (56m) Perini Navi Perini Navi sloop
Escapade (37m) Fitzroy Yachts Dubois sloop
Koo (43m) Vitters Shipyard Dubois sloop

J Class Entries — J Class Association Rating Rule

Yacht Builder Designer Model
Hanuman (42m) J6 Royal Huisman Dykstra NA sloop
Lionheart (44m) J1 Claasen Jachtbouw Hoek sloop
Ranger (42m) J5 Danish Yacht S&S / Dykstra NA sloop
Shamrock V (37m) J3 Camper / Pendennis Nicholsons / Dykstra NA sloop
Topaz (43m) J8 Holland Jachtbouw Frank C. Paine sloop
Velsheda (40m) J7 Camper & Nicholson Nicholsons / Dykstra NA sloop


Perseus In Pereni Navi Cup 2009 (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Perseus In Perini Navi Cup 2009 (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

What’s better than champagne sailing? Well if you’re one of the select few sailing in the Perini Navi Cup off the Costa Smeralda, it was certainly more like Bellini sailing – 30+ knots from the west which provided spectacular conditions for the 18-boat fleet.

Racing started pursuit style with the smallest yacht in the fleet, Elettra starting first at 1205; thereafter the yachts started every two minutes, with the last yacht off the line, the 184-foot sloop-rigged Salute.

The YCCS race committee sent the fleet on a 25 nautical mile course that featured mostly reaching: from the start off Porto Cervo, it was a beat up to Monaci island, once around a reach down to the rocky islet of Mortoriotto, then back on the wind again, though almost a fetch to the finish off the entrance to Porto Cervo.

While the pursuit start sent the boats on a bit of a parade up to Monaci, once around the reach to the leeward mark saw the fleet compress, making for an exciting leeward mark rounding at Motoriotto.

On board Perseus, Bill Lynn, a guest helmsmen, reveled in the conditions, saying “We saw 40 knots a little while before the start, but it was great — these boats handle just fine in that much wind, you just make the sails a little smaller and tell people to hang on a little tighter, and off you go. It’s a totally different beast to sail, everything happens that much slower, but then you get down to that leeward turning mark and there’s eight boats in a pretty small patch of water with rocks to the right, and rocks to the left, and you start getting a little nervous.”

Electra In The First Day Of Perini Navi Cup (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlingi)

Electra In The First Day Of Perini Navi Cup (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlingi)

The fresh conditions took their toll with some breakages. On Perseus, the port mainsheet winch failed, preventing the crew from trimming the main on most of the last beat, but they managed with a jury-rig and will work to rebuild the winch for tomorrows race.

While Perinis are massive yachts, under cruising conditions they don’t require a large number of crew to sail. But in racing mode, the crew numbers easily grow to 25 or so. Lynn explained, “We have the regular crew, the race crew which is about six or seven of us, guys that are here to race the boat, the owner and five or six of his friends, and a few other guests — I’m not sure if they snuck on.I never saw them before!”

Even a sailmaker can venture a huge smile after a spirited day of racing in big breeze on big yachts, such as the 174-foot Atmosphere. Robbie Doyle, had first sailed Perinis years ago onboard the newly-launched Andromedea La Dea, and in the 2006 Perini Navi Cup on Maltese Falcon — but he had never sailed the yachts in the strong conditions of today. Doyle said, “It was a testament to Perini that the boats all held together as well as they did. To sail in 30-35 knots and have as little damage done, well it’s big change from five to ten years ago. In general, super yachts when they go racing, you sheet everything in that much harder, and that’s when you break things. They’ve really resolved these systems very well.”

Doyle had high praise for the crew, “The owners son drove, he’s a tremendous sailor — a Melges 24 champion, so it’s a little different sailing this boat, but he did an excellent job. But we were grateful we didn’t have to put a spinnaker up today, since we haven’t practiced it.

The 164-foot ketch Baracuda stood out with their dark carbon hull and lavender-colored sails a striking sight against the emerald water. Former America’s Cup skipper Mauro Pelaschier helmsman onboard, said, “We sailed three days before the race, but in very light winds, so it was very exciting today, but difficult too as it’s not easy to trim the sails in the strong breeze.”

Baracuda was one of the last to start, and was several minutes late at that when another yacht crossed their anchor delaying their arrival on the race course. But they gained around the course and had a strong last beat, Pelaschier said, “We’re training the crew, they’re doing a great job. We know the boat a little better in strong breeze, so we do something better tomorrow.

Top five finishers today were: Maltese Falcon, Felicita West, Antara, Andromeda La Dea, Perseus.

Heritage In First Day Of Perini Navi Cup (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Heritage In First Day Of Perini Navi Cup (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)