A behind the scenes look at an extraordinary three-day regatta for sailboats over 100ft in length. Ellen Lampert-Gréaux chats with event director Peter Craig on the eve of the 2012 Bucket, which takes place March 22nd – 25th on the French Caribbean island of Saint Barthélemy.
Ellen Lampert-Gréaux: What is your role with the Bucket, and that do you do on a year-round basis and then day-to-day during the event?
Peter Craig: I was hired by the Bucket directors to manage the racing for the 2010 St Barth’s Bucket. Following that event, my company, Premiere Racing, was retained to manage all aspects of both Bucket events—on water and shore side. My title is ‘event director’. The three Bucket directors have remained actively involved in all aspects of the regattas with Tim Laughridge assuming the lead role as managing director. As is the case with any event, the event director is responsible for anything and everything to do with planning for and executing these regattas. That would include all local liaison, sponsor matters, entry promotion, social events, and executing all aspects of the event on site.
ELG: How many boats are registered for this year, and is that the limit; can the event grow in the future or is it limited in size and scope?
PC: While there is no firmly established ‘entry limit’ per se, there is the practical matter of safety on the racecourse. This is one of the reasons Premiere Racing was retained. One of our specialties is race management and I manage racing at regattas around the world. With the way we are running races now there are no issues with having even more entrants. But there is a second issue and that is the very unique ‘Spirit of the Bucket’. The directors and sponsors would like to retain that which has made this event what it is in the superyacht world. As such, the feeling is that we should keep entries under 50. For the 2012 edition we will have over 40 yachts, likely closer to 45.
ELG: Can you talk a little about the organization of the race in terms of safety, with all those fabulous boats out there?
PC: There are a number of steps one can take to enhance safety for superyacht racing, particularly with a big fleet. And we are taking all of them! For years the Bucket Regatta, under Hank Halsted’s stewardship, set the standard with superyacht-safe racing rules and regulations. Much of this, and more, has been brought into play by the newly formed Superyacht Racing Association, which nearly all superyacht regattas worldwide are abiding by. This includes custom rules approved by the International Governing Body of the sport of sailboat racing. We take additional steps such as dividing the fleet into three classes where they sail slightly different courses, hence different turning marks. Communications between yachts, designated safety officers, and minimum separation of 40 meters are just three of many steps we take to ensure that the St Barth’s Bucket is a safe race for these spectacular yachts.
ELG: What are the biggest challenges of the Bucket in Saint Barth from your point of view … and what makes it such a great race.
PC: The biggest challenge is to refrain from changing anything. It is clearly the most popular superyacht regatta in the world, setting the standard for all others. It is important to maintain that Bucket Spirit and keep it fun for the yacht owners. The challenge with any event of this magnitude is to keep all of the constituents happy – the yacht owners, sponsors, stakeholders and the wonderful people of St Barth. There are a number of factors that have made this the most popular superyacht event. Perhaps the biggest is the fact that it is St Barth. Is there a better sailing venue in the world? Add in the Directors’ focus on fun for the participants, a Bucket rating rule that has most entrants in the run for trophies, and the fact that the event is professionally run – and safe – and it is indeed a great race.
Ellen Lampert-Gréaux lives in Saint Barthélemy where she is editor-in-chief of Harbour Magazine. She writes regularly about entertainment design and technology for Live Design magazine, and about Caribbean architecture for MACO, a Trinidad-based lifestyle magazine.