Mixed skies of sun and clouds greeted the sailors in the 17th annual New Year’s Eve Regatta in Saint Barthélemy, with 13 boats taking part in this December 31 around-the-island parade (only ten of which crossed the finish line). While the fleet was smaller than in past years, there were many outstanding boats, such as Lone Fox, Ira Epstein’s 65ft classic ketch; Symmetry, Abbott Brown’s 96ft Frers sloop; and the 138ft J-Boat Endeavor II replica, Hanuman. But the winner was Phaedo, Lloyd Thornburg’s Gunboat 66, a jaunty, high-powered, orange catamaran, and the only multi-hull in the race.
With winds averaging 20 knots and occasional rain showers, the boats headed around the island in a counter-clockwise direction, passing Gouverneur, Saline, and the point of Toiny, then along the northern coast to Flamands, around the outlying island of Forchue and back into the port of Gustavia. This itinerary was perfect for Thornburg and Phaedo, a boat whose pedigree includes the 2011 Transatlantic Race from Newport, Rhode Island, to the coast of England, alongside such competitors as Maltese Falcon. Thornburg’s boat is based in Saint Barth in the winter, and the 2011 New Year’s Eve Regatta marked his second participation in the race, clocking in at 2 hours, 6 minutes, and 13 seconds.
Hanuman had the second fastest time, with Symmetry coming in third.
“We love Saint Barth,” said Symmetry‘s owner Abbott Brown, “it’s the best place to sail.” Although he has participated six times in the Saint Barth Bucket, this was the first time Symmetry had sailed in the New Year’s Eve event.
“It was fantastic, we had a blast,” notes Symmetry’s Australian Captain Ross Kleiman. “Sixteen to 17 knots of wind are ideal for us, but you can never have too much. We’ve wanted to do this race for a long time, and it was perfect. We passed everybody along the way, and we’ll definitely be back for the Bucket in March.”
The remainder of the fleet was comprised of smaller, local boats, as this race is open to everyone, race organizer Marc Del Giudice explained.
Although fast, Phaedo failed to break the record for the fastest time around the island, which stands at 1 hour, 32 minutes, and 7 seconds set by the 147ft Visione in 2004.
Ellen Lampert-Gréaux lives in Saint Barthélemy where she is editor-in-chief of Harbour Magazine, and has been a regular contributor to All At Sea since 2000. She writes regularly about entertainment design and technology for Live Design magazine, and about Caribbean architecture for MACO, a Trinidad-based lifestyle magazine.