Rough seas and rainy skies added a little excitement to the 13th annual New Year’s Eve Regatta, held on December 31, 2007 in Saint Barthélemy. The 26 boats that participated ranged from the smallest, Fritz Bus’ 24’ Carib Melges, to the largest, Elenora, a 162’ (overall length) replica of the mythic Nathaniel Herreshoff schooner Westward. The winner, with the fastest time around the island at 1 hour, 58 minutes, and 20 seconds was the 117’ Hamilton II, built in 2005 by CNB Bordeaux and designed by naval architect Philippe Briand.
“The sailing was fantastic,” said Hamilton II’s owner, Charles Dunstone, who hails from London (UK). He has sailed in this race several times in the past but this year marks his first win. “Twenty knots is optimum for the boat,” he said, admitting that the 25-28 knots seen during this regatta were “a bit much.” But that didn’t stop him from successfully maneuvering past the competition. Yet Hamilton II did not break the record time of 1hour, 31 minutes, and 6 seconds set last year by Claude Tellier on the Region Guadeloupe, a 60’ Orma trimaran, which broke the prior record (set in 2004 by Visione, a 147’ Baltic yacht) by one minute.
The boats are divided into three classes (plus a catamaran class with just one entry: Triumph, a 36’ Corsair). The winner in each class is the first boat to cross the finish line, so the race committee works to even out the handicaps and staggered starts for the race. In Class 1 for the largest boats, the 136’ Ana Christina was first to cross the line, even though her final time was a good 40 minutes behind Hamilton II in the same class (most of the other boats in this class also had better overall times than the winner….so much for the handicappers!)
Winners in the smaller classes were an 82’ Swan, Capo Giro, for the mid-sized boats (60 to 80 feet), and Courrier de Nuit, a 40’ sloop, in the smaller class (30 to 60 feet). A class for small boats up to 30’, which included singer Jimmy Buffett’s 30’ sloop, Groovy, was won by Alex Jouany’s 30’ sloop, Magic Carpet.
Silver cups for almost all the entries were provided by Trey and Kirsten Fitzgibbons, owners of the 65’ Meriten, Mischievous, whose skipper, Mark Del Guidice, organizes the regatta with the help of his crew member, Karl Spjiker, and in close collaboration with the St. Barth Yacht Club and the Port of Gustavia. The awards ceremony was held on the main dock at 5 p.m. following the race, as the large mega-yachts anchored at the dock where getting ready for New Year’s Eve parties claimed their glittering guests.