Pantaenius Report on the St Barths Bucket Regatta

By Ben Roberts

This year a fleet of 35 sailing yachts participated in the St Barths Bucket. The biggest attraction were the 5 J boats; who started racing a day before the rest of the fleet. Only the Js had their own fleet start on every race day. It was a spectacular sight, seeing these huge yachts meeting each other on the start line in the last few seconds before the race start.

“Hanuman” was unbeatable this year, much like “Endeavour” last year. Unfortunately “Endeavour” did not participate this year which would have been the 6th J Yacht. The last time when 5 or more Js were on the starting line together was in 1937. All the other yachts started with a defined start time. The yachts coming together over the finish line is one of the successful practices of this bucket.

Further classes and the winners were:
Grand Dames (12), winner was the huge sloop “Georgia“ – built by Alloy Yachts
Mademoiselles (10), winner was the retro classic “Adela“ built by Pendennis
Gazelles (9), winner was “Unfurled“ built by Royal Huisman
J Boats (5), winner was “Hanuman” built by Royal Huisman

There were thrilling moments during the races for sailors, crews, photographers and guests alike, especially in the J boat fleet. They were fighting for every metre and managing this without getting into any danger or coming close to colliding.

The change of safety rules implemented by SYRA during the last 3 years have had a direct impact on the discipline of the helmsmen and race crews today. It seems that the behaviour of the fleet is much more controlled now than has been in the past. Another reason for the good safety record this year could be as a result of the range finders (Pantaenius sponsored) which were handed to participating crew. They could easily measure the distance to the closest yacht, with the minimum distance to the closest yacht being 40 metres.

Apart from one unfortunate accident on ATHOS involving a race crew member, there were no serious collisions or accidents reported to the race organisers.

Under the guidance of the event director and race chairman Peter Craig, the annual SYRA meeting took place on the Wednesday before the races started. More and more owners are joining this smart and influential organisation. As many of the participating yachts are insured with Pantaenius, the insurance firm is very thankful for the work that SYRA has done in the past. Super Sailing Yacht racing is definitely much safer today than it was 4 years ago, thanks to Ed Dubois’ initial thinking.

The St Barths Bucket event is possibly the best Super Sailing Yacht event in the world today. One of the attributing factors for this is that the event is completely sponsored and regulated by the yachting industry, with the lead taken from 5 yards - Huisman, Vitters, Holland Jachtbouw; Alloy Yachts and Perini Navi.

The sponsors themselves are here, at the helm, overseeing this event. This keeps the owners motivated to enter their yachts, invite their friends and hire professional race crews from all over the world to race their yachts, often to an extraordinarily high standard.

By Ben Roberts