“As Buckets go, this one was epic,” says Hank Halsted, organizer of the St. Barth Bucket, a one-of-a-kind regatta that takes place on the tiny French Caribbean island of St. Barthélemy every spring. The 14th edition of the Bucket was held the weekend of March 27-29, 2009, with almost ideal sailing conditions in terms of the wind and the waves, not to mention the fact that with 35 boats on the starting line, this year’s Bucket hosted the largest fleet to date. And these are not just any sailboats: the race is reserved for maxis over 100’ long, with the exception of two that came in just under the wire—Windcrest at 98’ and Symmetry at 96’—as well as Wild Horses, a 76’ W-Class that spends the winters in Saint Barth.
One highlight of the 2009 Bucket was the mini-fleet of Perini Navi yachts; a total of nine, including the sleek, 125’ P2, which represents a new line of racing boats designed by naval architect Philippe Briand for Perini Navi, and Tom Perkin’s mind-boggling, 289’ Maltese Falcon, which won the Perini Navi trophy presented each year at the Bucket for the Perini Navi yacht with the best performance in the race.
Other notable entries include the 125’ Ranger, a replica of the J-Class America’s Cup boat, and the overall winner, Meteor, a 170′ Royal Huisman gaff-rigged schooner. Last year’s winner—the 152’ Holland Jachtbouw yacht, Windrose—was back as well. The sight of all these boats out on the water is simply unbeatable.
The Bucket fleet is divided into two classes: Les Grandes Dames de la Mer, or cruising boats, with Meteor, Maltese Falcon, and Windcrest coming in first, second and third respectively; and Les Gazelles, or racing boat class, which was won by the 128′ Ganesha by Fitzroy Yachts, with P2 in second place, and Destination Fox Harb’r, a 134’ Alloy Yachts entry in third place.
In the overall standings, Adela, a 180′ Pendennis Restoration took third place, with Windcrest second. They trailed Meteor, who raced beautifully with captain Dean Maggio at the helm, winning the first and third days’ races, and placing a disappointing 13th on the second day, yet putting in the best overall performance. A list of all 2009 awards and winners can be found at: www.bucketregattas.com/stbarths/awards.
After last year’s Bucket, Camper Nicholson Yachts generously donated 12 small Vanguard sailboats to the St Barth sailing school, and this year the kids from the school raced in a mini-Bucket with British sailor and double Olympic Gold Medalist Shirley Robertson on hand to give out the awards: that ought to be a great inspiration for the island’s young sailors!
This year, the Bucket organizers donated 17,500 Euros, or 10% of the entry fees from the race, to the island’s junior high school for new computers, once again helping the kids on the island. “Our computers are antiques, this will make us much more modern,” explained school director Christian Ledée.
As part of the awards ceremony on the dock on Sunday, March 29, island president Bruno Magras noted: “This is an important event for us and I offer a big thanks to the owners of these fantastic boats. We hope to host the Bucket for many years to come.” Organized in conjunction with The Port of Gustavia and the St. Barth Yacht Club, the Bucket is also now affiliated with the French Sailing Association (FFV) and an official event on the French sailing calendar.
With such sponsors as Holland Jachtbouw, Perini Navi, Royal Husiman, Vitters Shipyards, Alloy Yachts, and others, and a record number of yachts jockeying to participate, it looks as if the 15th anniversary of the Bucket will be quite a celebration in March 2010!
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 also writes regularly about entertainment design and technology for Live Design magazine, and about Caribbean architecture for MACO, a Trinidad-based lifestyle magazine.