2008 St Barths Bucket Recap
By all measures, the 2008 St. Barths Bucket was the best yet! With the trade winds serving up 18-20 knot breezes each day, St. Barths serving up its many pleasures each night and the fleet of 27 superyachts delivering 600+ owners and crew who have well perfected the art of creating a good time, the stage was set for a truly magnificent regatta. Add to the mix, a surprise concert by Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band on Saturday night, coupled with a fund raising event that raised $200,000 for the St. Barths Hospital Fund, FEMUR, and the closest racing any Bucket event has witnessed, and you’ve got the makings of the perfect storm of a party. . . And as Blackbeard was known to say, “Any Storm in a port!!!”
This year’s St. Barths Bucket fleet represented the full spectrum of superyacht design and construction. We had a large turnout from the Perini Navi Fleet, including sistership 46M Ketches, ANTARA and ANDROMEDA LA DEA, the lovely and well-sailed 52M PERSEUS and the new 45M Sloop, HELIOS. Royal Huisman weighed in with 45M HYPERION and the rocket fast Philippe Briande design 37M, GLISS. Holland Jachtbouw’s 45m Classic Schooner, WINDROSE won the Bucket, rated without downwind sails and the new Tripp design, Vitters 45M Sloop, MYSTERE, cut a fine figure within the fleet. Alloy Yachts were represented by the 108’ Fontaine design, PARAISO and the 110’ DuBois, SEA QUELL. The most difficult boat for the our rating Guru, Jim Teeters to place within the fleet was the new LEOPARD, 35M canting keel super-sled that reaches along at well over 20 knots, along with the ripping fast 45M Baltic, VISIONE. At the other end of the design spectrum was the classic 1931 William Fife 119’ Schooner, ALTAIR. As usual, the fleet was divided into two classes; a dozen racing oriented yachts sailed as “Les Gazelles des Mers” and the 15 cruising yachts sailed as “Les Grande Dames des Mers”.
The Bucket opened with the Skipper’s meeting at Le Bistro at the head of Gustavia Harbor, for final instructions and detailing of the new safety procedures put in place with the cooperation of SNSM, the French Coast Guard. Port Louis and Camper & Nicholson Marinas sponsored the Welcome Party at the Quay and the event was formally launched by firing the “Tommy Gun” in salute to our missing Bucket founder. As usual, the party was a great gathering of everyone you would hope to run into at a sailing event.
Friday’s race was a great counter clockwise romp around the Island in a perfect 18-knot easterly trade wind. GLISS ran away with the race, finishing a full 5 minutes ahead of the fleet, followed by KAORI and two minutes later, by the perfectly sailed Perini 46M, ANTARA.
Friday night, the Open House lived up to its billing as the best night of the Bucket. The racecourse competition spilled over into the evening as each of the yachts spoiled their visiting competitors with the best available fare and libation. To stroll the Quay with the world’s finest superyachts lined up and their welcome mats out for all competing crews, was a serious indulgence in a venue of rarified atmosphere!
Saturday brought slightly more breeze at 19 Knots and great racing on the “Wiggly Course,” around and between the Islands to the north and east of St. Barths. The 125’
S & S design ketch, FREEDOM, owned the day, beating WINDROSE over the line by just over a minute. KAORI again finished strongly with a third place. Once again, this was Bucket sailing at its best!
Saturday night was a big one in town, focused around the closely guarded conspiracy between Jimmy Buffett, Melanie Smith and the Bucket Race Committee, to fly the entire Coral Reefer Band to St. Barths for a full Jimmy Buffett Concert at Saturday night’s Bucket Bash! The quid pro quo was the fact that the concert would be centered around a fundraiser for FEMUR, the St. Barths non-profit medical foundation, to purchase a CT Scan machine for the local Hospital. This was also the Bucket participant’s opportunity to give something meaningful back to the Island that had shared its joie de vivre and hospitality with the Bucket Regatta for 13 years.
Saturday’s Owner’s Party was sponsored by our friends at US Trust/Bank of America, elegantly catered and served at “La Marine” on Gustavia Harbor, right across from the fleet at the quay. Midway through the evening, the Bucket Committee launched what had been billed as a “not so ordinary Auction” on behalf of FEMUR. Without any experience at this type of fund raising, the best instruments at hand were located by reaching into our “bag of geniuses” from among the fleet! Brian Owen, Peter DeSavary and Ernest Brin (Assistant Port Captain and FEMUR Board member), put the fundraiser into perspective, sharing their thoughts with regard to Bucket fundraising and the Island’s emergency medical needs.
The evening’s auctioneer was Northrop and Johnson’s Michael Nethersole, who with no previous experience, applied his quick wit and simply ravaged the crowd, keeping them laughing while coughing up the cash! There were only four auction items; two sets of tickets to Jimmy Buffett’s popular Boston Concert, a beautiful Billy Black photograph of the 2007 Bucket Fleet in Gustavia, framed with the mat autographed by Jimmy, and the somewhat contentious, St. Barths Bucket “Get out of Jail Free” card, which entitled the bearer to Three Minutes off their start time in any Bucket Race of their choosing! The final item, the very shirt of Jimmy’s back (autographed), went to the overall highest donor for the event.
Meanwhile back at the quay, the “Bucket Bash” was well underway, with 500 sailors feasting on an elegant buffet meal and dancing to the tunes of “Papa Gayo”, St. Barths best local band. Just as the Owner’s Party and auction broke up, Papa Gayo took a break and Jimmy and the Coral Reefer band were spirited across the harbor to board the Perini PERSEUS, stern to at the stage, while Jimmy’s wife and friends enjoyed the hospitality aboard VISIONE for the show. When Jimmy took the stage, the crowd was virtually blown away – somehow the secret never really got out - and the whole gang at the quay was taken for the best musical surprise ride any could have imagined, while Jimmy and the Reefers carried the night away! This was a scene from Bucket dreamland!
In the final tally, FEMUR and the Bucket Committee were astounded by the generosity of the Bucket yacht owners and participants. The auction raised $35,000, then the fleet donations raised another nearly $145,000 (we’d expected only $66,000)!! The Bucket Committee donated $33,000 to cover the hard costs of transporting the band, equipment, and infrastructure, leaving the total generated by the FEMUR fundraiser, in excess of $210,000! Jimmy Buffett was the largest contributor by far, donating his time, his band, his music and literally, the shirt off his back, for this cause in which he so wholeheartedly believes. Melanie Smith, the co-conspirator and also FEMUR Board Member, deserves huge kudos for having the brass to conceive the entire secret concert and fundraiser, then pulling off all the logistics to make it happen!
For many in the fleet, Sunday dawned groggy but with plenty of breeze to blow out the cobwebs. The “Wrong Way Around” race was launched into a 20 knot easterly for another great romp around, that served up some powerful shifty puffs on the last leg, which blew out and reshaped a few spinnakers! This was also the day that Chris Maybury and WINDROSE chose to cash in their Bucket “Get out of Jail Free” card that Chris had won at Auction. This moved their start forward by 3 minutes as announced to the Fleet by the Race Committee. WINDROSE stood in second place for the Bucket Overall, at the start of the Race.
Sunday’s finishes were the tightest ever in Bucket History, leaving the RC literally wishing for a video camera at times as yachts crossed the finish, overlapped. First through tenth place encompassed less than two and a half minutes! WINDROSE beat RANGER across the line by 5 seconds to claim first place, then VISIONE crossed 20 seconds later for third. WILD HORSES crossed the line for fourth place, 11 seconds ahead of GLISS and WINDCREST which tied for fifth place in a virtual dead heat!! REBECCA finished 4 seconds later for seventh, followed by LEOPARD 5 seconds later, followed by HYPERION 15 seconds later in ninth place and SALPERTON in tenth, by 7 seconds. For a fleet comprised of yachts of this size with tremendous design differences, these are minuscule margins! Hats off to Jim Teeters (the man in the Kevlar vest), our ratings guru!
The great news for the Race Committee was that WINDROSE thus won the Bucket, without actually needing the 3-minute Get out of Jail benefit! Her 3 minutes would have moved her from 1st to 10th place on Sunday, which still would have left her a 3 point margin in fleet standings to win overall.
In a great gesture of sportsmanship, Chris Maybury came to the Committee before the Awards Ceremony and requested that we award WINDROSE’s first place for Sunday’s race, to RANGER in recognition of their superior tactics and sail handling. In fact, at the awards meeting it had already been decided to present RANGER the Vitter’s “Polished Performance Award”, for the best consistent display of exceptional crew work and tactics in the Regatta. Therefore, we decided that WINDROSE should maintain their first place for Sunday but we invited Chris to make the presentation of the “Polished Performance Award” on behalf of Vitters. This was a true “Bucket Style” display of sportsmanship all around. Second place for the Bucket Overall was presented to, and well won by REBECCA and third place by GLISS.
In the racing division, “Les Gazelles des Mers”, REBECCA was the clear winner, followed by a tie for points between GLISS and VISIONE, which resolved to awarding GLISS second place in view of her win in race one, and VISIONE, third. In the cruising class, “Les Grandes Dames des Mers”, WINDROSE placed first, with the 108’ Alloy, PARAISO in second place and FREEDOM in third. PARAISO was also awarded the Alloy Yachts, best performance award and ANTARA won the Perini Cup, after once again, sailing a remarkably perfect regatta for a fully cruising oriented yacht.
The Wolter Huisman Memorial, Spirit of the Bucket Award was presented this year to VISIONE, in recognition of their generous hospitality throughout the Regatta, sumptuous fare during Friday’s open house and full welcome aboard for the band’s party on Saturday night. All this, while racing hard each day with their two golden retrievers aboard! We understand that the dogs actually tack themselves to weather on the way upwind and sit on centerline for the downwind legs!
This year’s “All Star Crew Award”, presented by Holland Jachtbouw and The Yacht Report, was intended to re-double the focus on the value of being voted “All Stars” by your peers, the other Yacht Crews. AVALON was the clear winner and Justin Juarez and his ‘Team Juarez” crew, well deserve the recognition as the crew that all do their jobs individually to the best potential, within the atmosphere of a supportive and cohesive family team. Without question, the yacht is run like a Swiss Watch. It seems something larger may be in operation as well. This is the crew that had the entire yacht sailing in huge Mexican sombreros – even Lilly, their 3-pound canine mascot!! The magic could stem from the fact that the owners, Jason and Leigh Taylor, are so relaxed and focused on fun that they fit in as crew themselves! AVALON’s racing crew has been a constant for nearly two decades, including two past captains, Mike Feirabend and Tom Miller, who collectively ran the boat for a decade, plus Jay Maher who was mate for the same tenure, plus Ethan and Trudy Bixby, John Paravano (Kiwi John), and Ron Holland, all of whom have sailed aboard for the better part of two decades! Indeed, when the “All Stars” were called up on stage to receive their award, the entire crew shared the well-deserved round of applause, Holland Jachtbouw Wooden Shoe award, Bucket All Star capes and a showering of champagne!
It was a huge surprise that this year’s coveted Escargot Cup (for last place) was won by the 164’ Perini Navi, PERSEUS. This mammoth yacht has always been exceptionally well sailed, with reasonably good finish results. In fact, PERSEUS made Bucket History this year in posting the closest start time on record, crossing the line only one second after her gun! She was awarded RC Flag for this accomplishment. Unfortunately, this was the year that she also blew out ALL her spinnakers, which helped her to join the esteemed ranks of Escargot winners. We’re sure that hers will be a short visit to this end of the fleet.
The Bucket Committee was extremely pleased to have a lively candidate who not only qualified – but excelled beyond all reasonable expectations, to win the “Skullduggery Cravat”, a perfectly tied Admiralty Noose, framed, with instructions for tying the proper noose, inscribed in calligraphy. This was originally awarded to the owner of SARIYAH in 2002, so his captain, Tim Laughridge (Bucket Committee) could be hung at the pleasure of the fleet. The award was renamed and put forward by the Committee to reinforce the Bucket premise that we are NOT here to promulgate adult behavior!! Sadly, this prize has gone un-awarded in St. Barths (although it was stolen last year by HIGHLAND BREEZE, which almost qualified). Imagine the Race Committee’s surprise when before Sunday’s race, REBECCA showed up on the starting line with her entire crew – 25 strong, fully suited up as Holstein Cows, all in white one-piece suits with black spots! Actually, they might have been mistaken for firehouse Dalmatians, were it not for the size of the spots and the inflated pink surgical gloves, appropriately placed. Who thinks these things up?? Thank God they do! Well done, Sparky and crew!
In sum, it wasn’t just another Bucket! In 2007 everyone asked, “How can it get better than this??” Well, in 2008, it happened. In large part because all of the 600+ participants in the Bucket Regatta are masters of having a good time, simply messing around on boats!!!