John Williams, Owner of J-Class yacht J/5 Ranger. (Photo © George Bekris)

John Williams, Owner of J-Class yacht J/5 Ranger. (Photo © George Bekris)


The sailing world is saddened by the sudden passing of  John  Williams, owner of the J-Class yacht Ranger. Mr. Williams passed away on Monday, 16th April.

 J-Class yacht J/5 Ranger. J-Class Regatta 2017 Newport, RI (Photo © George Bekris)

J-Class yacht J/5 Ranger. J-Class Regatta 2017 Newport, RI (Photo © George Bekris)

John, a prominent property developer in Atlanta, Georgia, was a leading light in the J Class for many years. His vision and passion for Ranger, the J Class and its long history was instrumental in the formation of the J Class Association and the consequent renaissance the class is enjoying presently.

After being inspired by seeing Velsehda and Endeavour racing in the Caribbean in the late 1990s, he chartered Endeavour to race in Antigua. That was the catalyst for his decision to commission the build of Ranger, the first J Class yacht to be built since the 1930s. Construction started at the Danish Yacht Boatyard in early 2002.

He raced and cruised Ranger extensively in the Caribbean, Europe and all around the world with considerable success.

His boat Ranger won the 2011 J-Class Regatta in Newport, RI. His boat was an often seen racer in the Newport area.

Crew of Ranger in 2011 after winning the Newport J-Class Regatta (Photo by George Bekris)

Crew of Ranger in 2011 after winning the Newport J-Class Regatta (Photo by George Bekris)

John Williams is survived by his wife Nancy, three children; Jay, Sarah Brook and Parker, and two grandchildren; Jack and Harrison. The thoughts and condolences of the wider J Class community are extended to his family and to all of the Ranger family.

John’s long serving ‘admiral of the fleet’ Dan Jackson notes: “As far as yachting goes, John started about 30 years ago and worked his way up from a 50ft sloop to building “Atlanta”, “Georgia” and then “Ranger”, which we launched in 2003.

“He was never happier than when on the boat with a full race crew mixing it up with other J boats. As far as significant wins, he was always proud of the wins in Sardinia at the Rolex Maxi Cup and the “clean sweep” that we had in St Tropez in 2014, winning all of the races. He loved having his family and the race crew (his second family) around him, enjoying the boat.”

 J-Class yacht J/5 Ranger. J-Class Regatta 2017 Newport, RI (Photo © George Bekris)

J-Class yacht J/5 Ranger. J-Class Regatta 2017 Newport, RI (Photo © George Bekris)

Newport Bucket Regatta Image Gallery by George Bekris


(click on image below to view gallery)

Hanuman Upwind Racing (Photo by George Bekris)



Athena, the 295′ Huisman yacht and this year’s race committee boat, was even hard to make out in the foggy start conditions on Saturday for the first race start .  Soon after the start the sea breezes kicked in and blew the fog out leaving a beautiful New England summer day. The breeze held for the afternoon at around 20kts. The 19 boat  Bucket Regatta fleet flew around the course in the ideal conditions.

Timoneer, the 147′ DuBois/Vitters Ketch, dominated the day. Her seasoned crew racing flawlessly and furnishing first by 5 minutes. The new Perini Navi Performance 125′ Sloop, P2, came in second.


Hanuman and Ranger Battle It Out (Photo By George Bekris)

The two J Class yacht entries Ranger and the newly launched  Hanuman (Endeavour II)  were reminiscent of the old America’s Cup days with their beautiful long lines. The New Hanuman took third place after a close contest between the two boats. They beat Ranger ,who placed fourth, by only 38 seconds. Avalon finished fifth, followed 13 seconds later by the Swan 100, Virago in 6th, and the Swan 80, Selene 36 seconds later in 7th.

(click on images to enlarge)

Hanuman Upwind Racing (Photo by George Bekris)

Hanuman Upwind Racing (Photo by George Bekris)

Broken down into classes the results were: Les Gazelles des Mers (Racing Division), P2 finished first, Hanuman second, with Ranger in third place. Among Les Grandes Dames des Mers (Cruising Division), Timoneer is in first place, Avalon in second and Taza Mas in third place.


Ranger Flashing a Smile (Photo by George Bekris)

It was hard to tell which boat team won the party following the race.  Clearly a great time was had by all the crews.


Timoneer 3rd Place Overall Winner (Photo by George Bekris)

In another Bucket first, the 156′ Pendennis Shipyards, MITSEAAH, engineered to power at over twenty knots and sail with respectable performance, was challenged on day one in keeping up with the racing yachts on the upwind leg.  Respecting the fact that the Bucket is also here to showcase the best attributes of each yacht while cultivating good racing, MITSEAAH was invited to start the race under full power, then execute a high speed 360 degree turn and roar off to the windward mark, where she re-converted to a sailing yacht, shut down the power and got into the race!   Her left-field handicap worked well too; she crossed the finish line in fifth position.


Mitseaah Blasting their way across the start line Sunday (Photo by George Bekris)

Sunday’s racing started out with Mitseeah blasting across  the start line  at 20 kts without a bit of sail up.


Summer Wind 2nd Day Racing Winner (Photo by George Bekris)

The  racing  started out with light wind but sea breezes filled in during the afternoon. Summer Wind placed first, followed by Taza Mas in second , Sea Diamond took third for Sundays racing.


Avalon Second Place Winner Overall (Photo by George Bekris)

Jerry Kirby must not have gotten enough sailing time in during the Volvo Ocean Race. He was onboard Hanuman  as Bowman.


Jerry Kirby Bowman On Hanuman For Sunday's rRacing (Photo by George Bekris)

These awards, first through third, are presented for the best performance overall for combined results, all classes, all races

1st     P2
2nd   Avalon
3rd   Timoneer

Les Gazelles   (Racing Class)

1st       P2
2nd    Hanuman
3rd      Wild Horses

Les Grand Dames   (Cruising Class)

1st       Summerwind
2nd     Taza Mas
3rd      Timoneer

All Star Crew Award presented by Holland Jachtbouw
(also presented by The Yacht Report and Crew Report Magazines)

At each Bucket Event, every yacht is asked to cast a ballot for the yacht crew among the fleet that demonstrates the most professional service in all tasks, while maintaining the best voie de vivre, camaraderie, teamwork and respect among the crew.  This is the crew that displays the pinnacle of the profession and has the most fun at it – the yacht that everyone wants to work aboard.   Because the award is earned by peer recognition, it has earned serious stature within the marine industry.

Sea Diamond

Vitter’s Shipyard Seamanship Trophy

The Vitters Seamanship Trophy is awarded to the yacht that demonstrates the best seamanship and sportsmanship in the interest of promoting safety on the race course.  All participants in the Bucket acknowledge that superyachts have serious limitations operating safely in close quarters and therefore, the RC has always valued safety well above performance.  This award will recognize the yacht that best demonstrates that understanding.  It also goes to prove that nice guys don’t always finish last!!

Taza Mas

Skullduggery Cravat


Newport Bone


The  Chippewa Bomb



     Hanuman On Narraganset Bay, Rhode Island, USA  (Photo by George Bekris)


Most of the yachts are docked at Newport Shipyard.   They are making the last of preparations for this weekend’s events.   The First Gun/First race for the Newport Bucket will be at 12 noon Saturday July 18.  Courses to be announced.   Fair Weather Courses will be sailed in Rhode Island Sound. 



Avalon, 108 Ft Southern Pacific (Photo by George Bekris)




Chippewa, 68 ft Swan (Photo by George Bekris)



Virago, 100ft Swan (Photo by George Bekris)



Ranger, 137 ft J Boat (Photo by George Bekris)



Hanuman, 125 ft Royal Huisman (Photo by George Bekris)



Wild Horses, 76 ft Brooklin Boat Yard W Class (Photo by George Bekris)


White Wings, 76 ft Rockport Marine W Class (Photo by George Bekris)



P2 ,125 ft Perini Navi, Ready To Race (Photo by George Bekris)



P2 Deck (Photo by George Bekris)


 No, they are not planning to Grill Out on P2.



P2 Navingation Instruments (Photo by George Bekris)



Athena, Newport Bucket Regatta Committee Boat (Photo by George Bekris)




Summerwind , 100 ft Alden (Photo by George Bekris)




Selene, 80 ft Swan (Photo by George Bekris)

Challenge and Adventure Image Galleries of Newport Bucket Regatta by George Bekris

(click on image to view gallery) ranger Newport Bucket 2008 Newport Bucket 2006 bucket_2005 .



Will Howden

British Olympic Tornado sailor Will Howden will join Ecover Sailing Team onboard the Ecover Extreme 40 for the first round of the iShares Cup 2009 in Venice Italy. Will joins the team as ‘bowman’ alongside skipper Mike Golding (GBR), Bruno Dubois (BEL) and Fraser Brown (NZL). Venice is the first city in the six stop European tour, with racing taking place between 15th -17th May.

Each race day involves up to 8 regatta-style inshore races, held close to the shore and the viewing public. With the iShares Extreme 40 races averaging just 12 minutes each and involving high-speed manoeuvres, sail hoists and drops, this is a punishing physical challenge for the whole team, especially the ‘bow’.

The world is more used to relating Ecover Sailing Team skipper Mike Golding with offshore single-handed racing. His CV detailing his success in this field speaks for itself: Mike was FICO world champion 2005/6 and IMOCA world champion for two successive years 2004/5 and 2005/6; the first and only B ritish sailor to hold this coveted title. He was also the first person ever to race single-handed and non-stop around the world in both directions and is one of just two British sailors to ever have stood on the podium in the Vendee Globe.

Ecover Sailing Team has an experienced crew for their first season competing in the iShares Cup. On the mainsheet will be Fraser Brown (NZL), one of the most experienced Extreme 40 sailors on the circuit having raced in the class from the outset. In 2008 he raced with double Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson, and the team won the first event in Lugano, Switzerland. 

Trimming will be Bruno Dubois (BEL) who is a familiar face to Ecover and Mike Golding as the pair have sailed together on many races on the IMOCA Open 60 circuit. Bruno is the Managing Director of North Sails in France, has competed in the Whitbread Round the World Race, been crowned World Champion in the Corel 45 class and held a multihull speed record in his career. Bruno was also part of the crew on Kingfisher 2 for the Jules Verne attempt in 2002 and was the sail co-coordinator for Areva Challenge in the last edition of the America’s Cup.

Will Howden
© Running the front of the boat will be Will Howden (GBR), he is no stranger to these boats having been on the circuit since 2005. Will has also competed at two Olympic Games from Great Britain in the Tornado Catamaran.
“It has been great to step onboard with Mike and team,” commented Will. “I love these boats, they really are a thrill ride and we have a huge amount of diversity in our team.  We all bring something to the table through our previous experiences and I think we have the potential for some good results on the water”. 

The team has been training in Hyères, France as they prepare for the circuit and are now on their way to the first event in Venice, Italy.  “It will be a bit of a baptism of fire for me!” said sk ipper Mike Golding. Our decision to join the iShares Cup came less than a month ago, since then we have assembled a great team, done a weeks training with our newly acquired Extreme 40 and put all the elements in place for our first event with the Ecover X40 in Venice. Like the iShares races themselves it’s been a mad dash! But we will be there and raring to get started!

Ecover Sailing Team Extreme 40
Skipper – Mike Golding (GBR)
Main – Fraser Brown (NZL)
Trimmer – Bruno Dubois (BEL)
Bow – Will Howden (GBR)