The 20th edition of the New Year’s Eve Parade in Saint Barth is the final regatta of the year. It takes place on the morning of December 31st, as the Port of Gustavia prepares for the biggest night of the winter season, with hundreds of boats in the harbor to ring in the New Year at the stroke of midnight.
The New Year’s Eve Parade set sail with 16 boats of various sizes, all hoping to break the record time of 01:32:07, set by Visione, a 147ft Baltic Yacht, in 2004. This year, another Baltic, the 108ft WinWin, sailed fast enough to take the winner’s trophy but their time of 02:06:20 posed no threat to the record.
Of course, race conditions have a lot to do with the speed of the boats, but it was clear that the high-tech, composite-built WinWin, with a beam of 24.8ft and draft of 18.1ft, was a yacht to take seriously. With her sleek black hull, and green spinnaker to match the color of her waterline, she made quite a sight as skipper Clive Walker drove her towards the finish line.
Walker said: “We all really enjoyed the relaxed format of the St. Barth Parade. Nowadays there is always so much heated discussion about ratings and performance, etc., before regattas even start.
“With the parade, the emphasis was more on having fun. We clearly felt this friendly spirit from all the yacht club members during registration, which set a relaxed tone for our first lap of St. Barth. At heart, we are all competitive but found it so refreshing to just sail casually around with comfortable safety margins—both with sail configurations and navigation.”
He added, “We eagerly plan to return to the beautiful island of St. Barth in March for the Bucket, where we will step on the gas to show the full potential of WinWin. Thank you to the Yacht Club, port authorities, divers, restaurants, bakery, supermarkets, and all the locals who made WinWin feel incredibly welcome.”
The New Year’s Eve Parade is an unrated friendly jaunt around the island, and the conditions could not have been better. Sunny skies and winds up to 19 knots made for some great sailing.
Parade entry fees were determined by boat length and charged per foot.
“The proceeds go to support the Saint Barth Sailing School,” said Annalisa Gee, one of the race organizers. “The regatta is really a fund-raiser for the school.”
Race organizers also include Mark del Giudice, marina manager at Forty 1° North in Newport, RI, as well as Paul Miller of the Caribbean Racing Association, who helped with the staggered start times in an attempt to have more boats approach the finish together, adding more excitement to the racing. As a bonus, the first six boats were awarded bottles of Rothschild champagne sponsored by CCPF’s Port du Cave Franc.
Next on the Saint Barth regatta calendar: The St Barth Bucket, March 19-21; Les Voiles de St Barth, April 13-18; and the West Indies Regatta, April 30-May 3.
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.