Six J Class boats were among the star attractions at the 2017 St Barth Bucket, in which a fleet of 38 yachts, all over 100ft long, raced over the weekend of March 16-19 in St Barthélemy. There is really nothing like the Bucket, where the public can walk along the dock right next to these incredible vessels, and a yacht hop allows hundreds of guests the chance to party aboard a few of them.
But the boats take the sailing seriously. Divided into five classes, not including the J Class, the fleet sailed in two round-the-island races and one ‘wiggly course’ under ideal weather conditions with sunny skies and gusty winds.
In the J Class—which opened the regatta on March 16—the 136ft Hanuman was the overall winner. Based on the original designs of the 1937 Endeavor II, Hanuman’s closest competitor was Velsheda, which had victories in three of the around-the-buoy races sailed by that fleet over its first two days.
Built by Royal Huisman in 2000, the 112ft sloop, SPIIP, took top honors in Les Elegantes des Mers class, as well as winning the perpetual Bucket Trophy for best overall performance among all the pursuit classes. The owner was also awarded a leather-clad bucket from Hermes. This yacht’s sophisticated exterior design and engineering are by German Frers, with interiors by Andrew Winch.
SPIIP’s tactician Tom Whidden revealed that the yacht lost its hydraulics on the last day provoking a third-place finish, but that was enough to secure their overall class victory. “We had a big lead at one point,” said Whidden. “We went way offshore after the start and came back right on lay line. I’d like to say it was skill, but it was a little bit luck when the wind went left. Then we lost the hydraulics about two-thirds the way up the beat on the backside of the island. We couldn’t let the mainsail out and had to trim the jib by hand, heading the boat into the wind to pull in the lines because we didn’t have a winch handle.”
Wisp, a 115ft Royal Huisman sloop, won Les Mademoiselles del Mers class, while the 183ft Perini Navi ketch Rosehearty took top honors in Les Grandes Dames des Mers, holding off her closest competitor, Meteor, by taking a course closer to shore than Meteor’s on the windward side of the island and tacking to cover her as she began getting closer. Rosehearty also won the Perini Navi Trophy for best performance by a Perini Navi yacht in The Bucket.
In the new Corinthian Class for Les Voiles Blanche, the 140ft Vitters sloop, Koo, snatched the lead from Q and crossed the line in first place. This is Koo’s fourth Bucket, the team having raced non-spinnaker every time, so it’s as if the new Corinthian Class was created especially for them.
The Les Gazelles des Mers class win went to Visione, a 147ft Baltic Yacht built in 2002.
The awards ceremony was held on the evening of March 19 on the main dock in Gustavia, at which time The Bucket Regatta presented a donation of 20,000 euros to the Saint Barth Yacht Club Youth Sailing Program.
The 2018 Bucket will take place March 15-18. For full results and Bucket info, visit: www.bucketregatta.com