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17 – 20 March 2016

16 – 19 March 2017

15 – 18 March 2018

21 - 24 March 2019

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  Photograph of St BArths harbor at night, with yachts docked

2016 St Barths Bucket: Recaps


2016 St Barths Bucket Recaps: 20 March | 19 March | 18 March | 17 March | 16 March |

20 March 2016

A Terrific Privilege Comes to a Close

Sunday’s final round of Bucket racing had several teams on edge, knowing that they had just one race left to either make it or break it. The wind blew several knots stronger than it had on Saturday to reach a solid 18-20 knots by mid-morning when 38 superyachts started various versions of the Around the Island (clockwise) Race. It was the reverse of Friday’s race, which was sailed in the lightest breezes of the regatta (14-15 knots) and more straightforward than Saturday’s race on the Not So Wiggly course that zig-zagged through the rocks and smaller islands surrounding St. Barths.

After all was said and done, the crew of the Vitters sloop Unfurled took the stage Sunday night to collect the Chelsea Clock class trophy for winning in Gazelles des Mers (Class A) as well as the most prestigious prize that could be won by any of the pursuit-class yachts that measured in at 30 meters or longer: the actual bucket that is the famous Bucket Trophy for best overall performance. This year the winner was determined by race organizers using newly published criteria, and suffice it to say, it did not go unnoticed that the action in Unfurled’s class was as competitive as it gets in superyachts.

For Sunday’s finale, Unfurled absolutely had to finish first to win its class overall, because its closest rivals Nilaya, which had been leading on Saturday, and Visione, could also take home the Chelsea Clock if they won that race. “We just went out there and did it,” said navigator Campbell Field. “We were sailing 150-foot yachts as if they were 50-foot yachts but within the restraints of them being 150 feet, of course: you can’t tack, tack, tack…everything takes time, everything’s got huge loads and you have to be careful, but we really pushed the limits.”

Unfurled played catch-up all day, chasing down Nilaya and and the Vitters sloop Inoui, mainly. It wasn’t until halfway up the beat on the backside of the island that the team “started to take chunks out of them.” According to Campbell: “Nilaya could get closer to shore because they draw less than us, but unfortunately for them, we have more boat length and were able to get past them. We always had our eyes over our shoulder with Visione charging through.” (Visione would up second behind third-place Nilaya in that race and third on a tie-breaker behind Nilaya in overall scoring.)

Unfurled, which is a brand new boat launched last November, has the same owner, team and “heart” as the old Unfurled, which has won its class here before but never the actual Bucket. At the awards presentation Unfurled’s owner/helmsman summed up superyacht sailors as a tight knit community both on and off the race course and called it a “terrific privilege to be involved.”

The Gazelles and Elegantes des Mers (Class B) both sailed 24.3 miles, and in Elegantes it was the Perini Navi sloop P2, with its new owner, that won to hold on to the lead it had established on Saturday and edge out second-place finisher, the Vitters sloop Ganesha, by one point in overall scoring.  Both teams had been tied on point scores going into the finals and neither team finished worse than second in any one of the three races.

Sunday’s cliff hanger in the Grandes Dames des Mers (Class E) literally had the owner, crew and guests aboard the Perini Navi sloop Rosehearty collectively holding their breath, waiting to see if the Perini Navi sloop Seahawk, which was leading the fleet well in the distance ahead, could successfully fend off next-in-line Ohana at the finish. If it could, Rosehearty, which at the time was in fourth behind Perseus^3, would win the series. If it couldn’t, Ohana would replace the team at the top of the scoreboard.

Rosehearty’s helmsman Peter Holmberg explained that a tack fitting on their head foil broke under heavy load during the windy beat, so the team was forced to furl away much of the jib and leave their fate in Seahawk’s hands. “We had a two-point cushion going into Sunday, so if we couldn’t beat Ohana, we had to allow no more than one boat to get between us in the results; if they were first, we could be third…if they were second we could be fourth and still tie and win the tie breaker.”

When Seahawk edged out Ohana by less than a boat length at the finish line, it made the numbers work and the Rosehearty team exhaled in relief before raising a final victory cheer.

It was more straightforward in Femmes des Mers (Class C) and Mademoiselles des Mers (Class D), which sailed a shorter 22-mile course on Sunday and had not seen a lead change since day one. Axia posted three overall points over the Royal Huisman sloop Hyperion’s six in Femmes and Freya posted three to Windfall’s eight in Mademoiselles.

“We’ve done this type of racing a few times,” said Freya’s Captain Jonathan Carter, just off a class win at Loro Piana with his owner/driver and team. “Here we were mainly chasing Bequia (third overall) and getting them in the last few miles and fending off Windfall (second overall). We just tried to stay in clean air, clear of traffic and make our moves simple. This is the second year for the ORCsy Rule to be used, and I think it’s the best, fairest rating they’ve had so far.”

The J-Class sailed a 23.9 mile course to see Velsheda prevail as both the race and overall winner. “We are a team that just does not know when to lie down,” smiled a relieved and happy tactician Tom Dodson, explaining that a “night shift” worked until 4 am Sunday morning to solve problems they were having with winches on Saturday. The day shift was responsible for positioning Velsheda in the lead by the first turn and keeping her there for more than a two-minute edge over Ranger at the finish. Newcomer Topaz had the early lead on the six-mile downwind leg that came directly after the start but erred too far offshore at the bottom of the island. With the class having started its fleet racing on Thursday (a day earlier than the pursuit-racing classes), Ranger and Velsheda each counted two wins and two seconds to tie on final point score, but the tie breaker on count back went to Velsheda for winning the last race.

While the J-Class sailed under their own J-Class Rule, the ORCsy Rule was used for the five pursuit classes for a second subsequent year. As well, the 2016 Bucket Regatta marked its second year under ownership of its joint stewards: Perini Navi, Royal Huisman, Vitters Shipyard and Rybovich. Friends of the Bucket are Affinity Management Services, Bank of America, Burgess, Camper & Nicholsons, Doehle Yachts, Doyle Sailmakers, Dubois NA, Dykstra NA, Future Fibres, MTN, Newport Shipyard, North Sails, Pantaenius Yacht Insurance, Pendennis, the Superyacht Report, Tradewind Aviation, Willis Towers Watson, ZIS Insurance.

Barby MacGowan
Media Pro International’s Barby MacGowan is reporting daily from St. Barths. Read her recaps here and her Bucket Blog.

19 March 2016

Photograph of two yachts racing in St BarthsNo Better Day to Win

The two variations of the “Not So Wiggley Course” used in the Bucket today proved to be as fun as the name sounds, but actually quite the opposite of what the name implies, as they zig-zagged like road courses used in motorsports through small islands and groups of rocks to the northwest of St. Barths. With the breeze a bit stronger than yesterday’s and the sky just as blue, the conditions made for some very satisfying and physical sailing for 38 superyachts divided into five pursuit classes and a sixth for J-Class yachts that are fleet racing.

The J-Class, Gazelles des Mers (Class A) and Elegantes des Mers (Class B) sailed the longer 28 mile version of the course, and in all three classes a different team from yesterday took over the leaderboard.  As such, going into tomorrow’s final day of racing, it will be a close battle for a place on stage to receive a Chelsea Clock Award for class victory, and if lucky, the famous Bucket Trophy for overall honors.

In Elegantes, yesterday the Vitters sloop Ganesha won and the Perini Navi sloop P2 was second, but today the order inverted. P2’s tactician Tony Rey said the Not So Wiggley Course has always been the bane of his team’s existence. (The team is much the same as the one that sailed Marie to win here two years ago; Marie’s owner bought P2 and is using Marie as its mothership here). “We did this course two days ago in training, and it served us well today, because we had a really good feel for the angles and the sails we’d need,” said Rey. “The course suited the boat, and everything came our way.”

The Royal Huisman sloop Wisp led for nearly the entire race, but P2 finally passed her at Roche Table. Ganesha passed her shortly afterward, so it quickly became a battle between P2 and Ganesha fought until the last boat length.

“The owner and his guests were so engaged and so into the race; everyone was excited,” said Rey, noting that each team has three points overall. “Honestly, it’s what we came here for; these last two races have been some of the best superyacht racing I’ve ever done. We can’t wait until tomorrow.”

In Gazelles, Nilaya , which had finished third yesterday, won today, leaving fourth for yesterday’s winner, the Vitters sloop Unfurled. The two stand only one point apart now, with Nilaya leading going into tomorrow and Visione, currently in third overall, sharing the same point score as Unfurled.

“It has been quite close between us, and it’s all down to tomorrow,” said Nilaya’s Captain James Morbey, explaining that his team followed second behind the Vitters sloop Inoui in the staggered start sequence, caught them on the first leg, and held the lead to the end, but at the finish line Hetairos’s bowsprit was “pretty much on our stern…you can’t make any mistakes, you lose too much time. It’s a matter of seconds on the finish line.” Nilaya kept its maneuvers quick and efficient and when “the big guys” (Visione, Inoui and Hetairos) were catching them at the end, the team had given itself just enough separation to take it to the line. “With the rating rule it’s a lot closer than it has ever been. What makes it exciting is the fact that it’s difficult. If it were easy, it would not be so fun to win.”

Nilaya won its class here two years ago with 95% the same team and just this month took overall victory at the Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta in Virgin Gorda. “We’ve had a good run, but it’s tight for tomorrow,” said Morbey. “We are quietly confident, but we know we can’t make mistakes.”

Ranger is back on top in the J-Class after rounding the Groupers within two boat lengths of Velsheda and then engaging in a tacking duel to pass her on the long backside windward leg. With only three boats in the class, it comes down to who wins tomorrow.

The yacht Freya racing at St BarthsFemmes des Mers (Class C), Mademoiselles des Mers (Class D) and Grandes Dames (Class E) sailed the shorter 24.4 miles version of the Not So Wiggley Course, with Axia, Freya and Rosehearty all winning for a second time to remain at the top of the scoreboard. Rosehearty’s bow man John Earle said the many turns in today’s course demanded more spinnaker work than yesterday, but his team met the challenge.  “Three hoists, three drops, no mistakes,” He said. Obviously life is good when this happens.

The start and finish of tomorrow’s “Wrong Way Around Course” can be best watched from Shell Beach, the nearest beach (walking distance) to downtown Gustavia. Do Brazil restaurant there offers lunch and breathtaking views of the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. The J-Class starts at 11, with the balance of classes following up until approximately 1:15. Finishes are expected to be between 2:30 and 4.

Barby MacGowan
Media Pro International’s Barby MacGowan is reporting daily from St. Barths. Read her 2016 St Barths Bucket recaps here and her Bucket Blog.

18 March 2016

A Most Refreshing Start

photograph of J-Class yacht racing in St BArthsThe most fabulous sailboat race in the Caribbean lived up to its billing today when 38 superyachts sailed counterclockwise around St. Barths and its outer islands and rock croppings, marking the first of three scheduled pursuit races for five classes at this year’s St. Barths Bucket Regatta. A sixth class for three J-Class yachts also circumnavigated the island; however, theirs was a fleet rather than a staggered start.

The J-Class and Femmes des Mers (Class C), Mademoiselles des Mers (Class D), and Elegantes des Mers (Class B) sailed the longest courses (between 24.7 and 26 miles), each of which included a newly introduced rounding mark situated well inside St. Jean Bay where spectators at Nikki Beach, Eden Rock and La Plage could gawk more closely at the massively impressive racing machines sailing just beyond the surf break. Peter Isler, tactician aboard the J-Class yacht Ranger, called the moderate breezes, averaging 14-15 knots, “perfect for the yachts here – not gear-breaking but enough to heel us over and make some foam.”

Ranger had won the first race of its four-day series yesterday but today conceded to Velsheda, which made a bold tactical “inside” move at Roches Rouges, which was in effect the first windward mark of the course, four miles out from the start. She defended her lead all the way around to win by over a minute over Ranger.

Photograph of two yachts racing in St BarthsWhile the Vitters Sloop Ganesha and Freya won in Elegantes and Mademoiselles, respectively, Axia, which won its class here last year, was busy staking its first-day claim in Femmes.

Axia started third in its class, taking a starboard approach at the buoy end of the line when others were choosing a port approach. The gamble paid off for a lift in near shore, and by the time the team reached Roches Rouges, it had picked off Blue Too and the Huisman ketch Surama. Then in another move that most others must have considered disadvantageous or downright impossible, Axia carried her spinnaker from St. Jean Bay to the next mark outside and then for six miles downwind to Ile Fourchue for an even larger gain before dousing to take another six mile leg – this time upwind – back to the finish.

“It was one of the nicest courses and races ever,” said Axia’s tactician and long-time Bucket competitor Robbie Doyle. “It wasn’t too rough or too light, and what often decides winners is traffic, so we avoided that and were able to sail clean.”

Gazelles des Mers (Class A) sailed 24.7 miles on a course that took them around the outer rock formations of Roches Table and the Groupers, while the Grandes Dames (Class E) sailed a slightly shorter course (21 miles) that went as far as Ile Fourchue at its farthest point north. The Vitters sloop Unfurled and the Perini Navi ketch Rosehearty were the respective winners in those classes, with Rosehearty’s finish proving one of the most exciting of the day: Ohana was behind them by only two boat lengths at the finish line.

Rosehearty started fifth in the Grande Dames class, and tactician Paul Cayard knew from the start it would be a good battle. “Sometimes you have some who are late to their start, but we all got good starts today, so we all stacked up on each other on port tack,” he said. “Zenji got flushed out of that pile, and we were catching Clan VIII, who finished the first beat in three tacks while we did it in one, so we were ahead of them by the top mark (the Roches Rouges). By then, we also had passed the others who had started in front of us.” The Rosehearty team sailed conservatively from there on out to maintain what was at one time a six-minute lead over the Perini Navi ketch Seahawk. By the finish, Seahawk had closed the gap by three minutes, but more impressively, Ohana, which started 12 minutes behind Rosehearty, had passed Seahawk on the last beat to take second and finish only 53 seconds behind Rosehearty. “It was a very good day again for Rosehearty,” said Cayard, who was with the owner and much of the same team here aboard Rosehearty when it finished second here last year and followed it up with a class victory at the Perini Navi Cup in Italy. “We practiced well and we executed well.”

Tomorrow is scheduled for a “Not so Wiggly Course” that will bring the J-Class yachts into view on the southwest end of the island at approximately 12:00 and the others in a continuing parade of sail until early afternoon. The Taiwana Hotel is prepared to host Bucket enthusiasts who can watch from the deck or beach there.

Barby MacGowan
Media Pro International’s Barby MacGowan is reporting daily from St. Barths. Read her 2016 St Barths Bucket recaps here and her Bucket Blog.

17 March 2016

The Perfect Gift: Ranger Wins the Kings Hundred Guinea Trophy

While most of the 39-strong Bucket Regatta fleet was out practicing or enjoying a day off today, three J-Class yachts checked off the first of their four fleet races off St. Barths, starting their series a day earlier than the others. On a windward-leeward course (three times around), which proved to be particularly tricky and difficult to read, the crew of Ranger delivered the best possible present to their passionate owner on his birthday by winning the J Class’s most prestigious annual trophy, the Kings Hundred Guinea Trophy, which had been designated as the trophy for today’s victor.

After a well-executed pin end start, Ranger had been able to lift away after tacking on to port and earn themselves a sizeable lead over Velsheda and the brand-new Topaz, which was launched last summer and is here sailing her first-ever race. America’s Cup winning tactician Murray Jones, guiding Ranger’s skipper/helmsman Erle Williams, read the breeze best on the critical first beat, believing there was more wind pressure to the left. On the first downwind leg, Ranger’s afterguard members were reasonably content to spend some of the yacht’s lead in order to cover their rivals, and in the end they crossed the finish line ahead of Velsheda, with Topaz obviously competitive but trailing in third. 

“It was a difficult one, quite tricky,” said Jones “The course was in a convergence zone: out offshore it was 100 degrees, more right…left it was more like 55 and in the middle. It was really very light, and so you had to pick your option. We were a little conservative on the second beat, but I was never really concerned about losing the lead.” 

The Ranger team won the last event of the J Class 2015 season and won the mixed fleet racing at Les Voiles de Saint Tropez. Carrying momentum into the start of this year was important, but winning the biggest J Class trophy of the year and for the first time was a huge, if unexpected, bonus.

Photograph of Topaz racing at 2016 St Barths Bucket Regatta“This is my first day racing in St. Barths, and it is great to start out with a win like this,” said Jones. “Our owner is such an enthusiast that it’s nice to be able to win this Kings Hundred Guinea Cup for him.” 
Topaz crew members, which included German Olympian Jorge Heinritz as helmsman and two-time Canadian Olympic medalist Ross Macdonald serving as strategist, said their learning curve is steep but they were quite happy with their day. 

“It was an absolutely fantastic experience today” said Heinritz, who was counting this as his first time to steer in a J Class race. “There was a certain tension, some pressure on board today for our first race, but really our objective was to get around the course in good shape and come back with all our fingers still attached.”
Tomorrow’s scheduled Around the Island (counterclockwise) race, which starts at 11, could take the J-Class yachts and five pursuit classes into the Bay of St. Jean to round a new mark there. The new course options are part of a broader mix designed to bring the visual spectacle of these amazing superyachts closer to shore.

While Nikki Beach, Eden Rock and La Plage are the hot spots from where to watch tomorrow (J-Class yachts are expected to arrive in the Bay of St. Jean as early as 11:45, with the 36 other yachts arriving between 12:00 and 1:15), other vantage points on the island include Fort Oscar, which houses the gendarmerie in Gustavia; the lighthouse above Gustavia; the hills of Lurin; Toiny; Pointe Milou; the top of Anse des Cayes; and the lookout point in Colombier.

Barby MacGowan
Media Pro International’s Barby MacGowan is reporting daily from St. Barths. Read her 2016 St Barths Bucket recaps here and her Bucket Blog.

16 March 2016

Ever More Fabulous: Additional Entries, Extra Classes, New Courses

For 22 years, the St. Barths Bucket Regatta has been making a statement in the French West Indies with its extraordinary collection of mega yachts that travel annually to the tiny island of Saint-Barthélemy in order to participate in a pursuit race like no other. This year, 39 teams (topping last year’s 35) will compete during the racing window from Thursday to Sunday (March 16-20) while the event’s four stewards – Perini Navi, Royal Huisman, Rybovich, and Vitters Shipyard – infuse the competition and shore-side festivities with their own brand of synergistic energy that puts the entire superyacht world on notice that a regatta of epic proportions is in the making.

For the first time ever, there will be five (instead of four) Bucket pursuit classes, which appropriately have been ascribed elegant French names: Les Gazelles des Mers (Class A), Les Elegantes des Mers (Class B), Les Femmes des Mers (Class C), Les Mademoiselles des Mers (Class D) and Les Grandes Dames des Mers (Class E).  Regatta Director Peter Craig said the reason for adding Les Femmes between Les Elegantes and Les Mademoiselles is logical: “Every year we have to take a growing number of sloops, schooners and ketches with lengths that can range from 28 to 60 meters and group them so that they can sail fairly against each other. We’ve divided heavy slower boats, fast performance boats and everything in between into four classes in the past, but it just wasn’t quite right in Class B where we had too broad of a range of different types of boats competing. The right answer to the problem was to go to five classes.”

Turning one group into two means that not only are the rating bands tighter but also the number of entrants (six each) in Les Elegantes and Les Femmes are more in line with the other classes. (No class has fewer than six entrants, and the largest class, Les Grandes Dames des Mers, has nine.)

“More trophies, more winners…it’s all good,” said Craig.

New racecourse options are another change this year that will bring the beauty and excitement of superyachts-under-sail closer to shore-side venues. “With RRS Appendix SY and staggered class finishes now firmly established, we felt we could introduce such things as a new mark in the Bay of St. Jean and new passages to be taken between Ile Chevreau, Ile Fregate and Ile Toc Vers, without compromising safe racing, which with these large yachts, is paramount.”

For safety’s sake, superyacht racing incorporates a “staggered” start for each yacht (based primarily on individual handicaps) that consequently allows the fleet to finish in close proximity to each other, with the first-to-finish yacht becoming the race winner. This year, the Bucket is taking the concept a step farther by allowing a gap of approximately 10 minutes between classes. The goal is to achieve more separation and fewer overtaking situations between yachts in different classes, not to mention that at the finish, spectators can more easily identify race winners in each class.

Sailing in a special sixth class at this year’s Bucket are the J-Class Yachts, which will sail under the J-Class Rule rather than the Superyacht Rule and are scheduled for fleet racing rather than pursuit racing. Ranger (J5), Velsheda (J7) and the newly built Topaz (J8) will kick off the action Wednesday with a single windward-leeward race before joining three days of coastal racing that begins for the other teams on Thursday. The J-Class spectacle will be a precursor to even bigger, better things next year when the Bucket (which originated in Nantucket, Mass.) celebrates its 30th Anniversary and as many as eight of these massive sloops, all upwards of 38 meters (125 feet) and once used in the America’s Cup, will participate.

In the meantime, the 2016 St. Barth Bucket has plenty of wow in its factor to share with owners, their guests, the crews and onlookers.

The largest yacht here is the 90 meter (295 foot) Athena, a clipper-bowed three masted gaff rigged schooner built in 2004 by Royal Huisman for Netscape founder Jim Clark. She is one of the largest privately owned sailing yachts in the world and the largest all-aluminum yacht built to date, incorporating inspiring technical achievement and displacing a staggering 1,177 tons.

The next largest is the ketch Hetairos at 59.9 meters (196.5 feet), and among the new-builds is the 46.1 meter (151 foot) Vitters sloop Unfurled, which debuted in Virgin Gorda earlier this month and showed flashes of brilliance against stiff competition in the Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta. Class winners at that regatta sailing here are the 58.6 meter (192 foot) Seahawk, the 27.7 meter (90 foot) Freya, the 41.1 meter (134 foot) sloop Nilaya and the 38.2 (125 foot) Perini Navi sloop P2.

“Everyone will be eager to see how these and the other teams, both veteran and new here, do,” said Craig. “With the makeup of the Bucket classes this year, I’m certainly not going guess on winners ahead of time. It’s going to be highly competitive.”

Friends of the Bucket are Affinity Management Services, Bank of America, Burgess, Camper & Nicholsons, Doehle Yachts, Doyle Sailmakers, Dubois NA, Dykstra NA, Future Fibres, MTN, Newport Shipyard, North Sails, Pantaenius Yacht Insurance, Pendennis, the Superyacht Report, Tradewind Aviation, Willis Towers Watson, ZIS Insurance.
For more information and a full list of entries, visit

For a third year, TracTrac's live race tracking will enhance the Bucket experience for friends, families and Bucket fans. Access it at

Barby MacGowan
Media Pro International’s Barby MacGowan is reporting daily from St. Barths. Read her 2016 St Barths Bucket recaps here and her Bucket Blog.