Ranger, the magnificent 137′ replica of the historic America’s Cup J-Class yacht, took top honors in the 15th anniversary edition of the St. Barth Bucket after three days of racing on March 26, 27, and 28 under sunny skies and slightly unpredictable winds that kept the sailors on their toes. Second place and third place went to two of the seven outstanding Perini Navi yachts in the Bucket this year, with the 154′ Andromeda la Dea coming in second, and the 125′ P2 in third place overall.
Ranger and Andromeda la Dea also won their individual classes: Ranger for Les Gazelles or racing class boats, and Andromeda for Les Grandes Dames or cruising yachts. The two classes were added in 2005 when the Bucket fleet was deemed too large and the committee decided to divide the fleet. This year, the size of the Bucket fleet once again broke all records, with 39 yachts ranging from 76′ (Donald Tofias’ White Wings) to 184′ (Perini Navi’s Salute).
With winds of eight to 15 knots over the weekend and incredibly good weather, the Bucket proved itself to be an undisputed highpoint on the Caribbean sailing calendar, erasing memories of years with so little race the regattas were canceled or high-sea alerts what caused the fleet to anchor in the harbor rather than at the dock. Major shipyards such as Alloy, Vitters, Royal Huisman, Perini Navi and Holland Jachtbouw are the main sponsors of the event, with entries in the race, making the Bucket a great showcase for the world’s top yachts. Hundreds of people flock to St. Barth the week of the races, from owners with their crew and guests to tourists who host Bucket parties in villas high atop the island’s hills where the nautical extravaganza of so many beautiful boats in one place at one time unfolds before their eyes.
New this year was Peter Craig of Premiere Racing Inc. as the Bucket’s first PRO (professional race officer), in what race organizer Hank Halsted called “a very exciting move forward for the Bucket. Peter is responsible for all on-water activities of the Bucket; courses, buoys, start/finish, all chase and safety boats.” New safety regulations were also instituted this year, which combined with good seamanship on the part of the competitors, allowed for some fantastic racing.
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.