Sailing on the last day of the 2019 Bucket Regatta couldn’t have played out any better for 34 superyachts fighting for podium positions in five spinnaker classes and one Corinthian Spirit (non-spinnaker) class. Winds ramped up to 18-20 knots just before the start of the scheduled “Wrong Way Around” race, which sent the fleet counter-clockwise around the island of Saint-Barthélemy after a downwind start that required precision crew work and timing, especially in the cases where super-sized spinnakers were deployed to capitalize on the benefit of their awesome power. After two days of racing in all-day sunshine and perfectly moderate breezes, no one quite minded a brief squall that passed through on the north side of the island; it gave way to the day’s balance of more clear skies and shifting moderate-to-high breezes that would make or break many teams’ chances of winning.
“If you won your class at the 2019 St. Barths Bucket, you were doing something right and can be very proud,” said Race Director Peter Craig at Sunday evening’s Awards Ceremony. “Across the board, we had incredibly competitive racing.”
With a 1-2-3 scoreline to show for its crew’s strong execution of plan, the 59.9m ketch Hetairos, a design collaboration between Dykstra and Reichel/Pugh, won the six-yacht Les Gazelles des Mer class and met – better than any other – the organizers’ criteria for taking home overall honors and the coveted Bucket trophy. It prevailed in “the most competitive, closely contested class” after a finish-for-the-ages in Sunday’s race where the ultimate third-place finisher My Song, a 39.7m sloop, beat out Hetairos by a mere eight seconds. Then, in final scoring, a mathematical tiebreaker had to be applied to determine Hetairos’s series victory over runner-up WinWin, a 33m sloop. Proving that the handicap rating rule (ORCsy for the spinnaker classes and ORCcs for the non-spinnaker Corinthian Spirit class) worked well here, Sunday’s race for the Gazelles also saw five yachts finish within one minute of each other.
In the six-yacht Mademoiselles des Mers class, the 35m ketch Sojana was never more than 5.7 seconds from the starting line in the pursuit starts that have become a hallmark of superyacht racing. She had a perfect score line, with the 31.8m sloop Farfalla and the 32.9m Vitters-built Missy sailing consistently to take second and third, respectively. Farfalla is a class winner from last year, while Missy is logging her first year in spinnaker racing after having sailed in the Corinthian Spirit class last year as their introduction to superyacht racing.
The top two yachts in the six-strong Les Elegantes des Mers class exchanged leads on the first two days of racing and were knotted up in Sunday’s race until the 56.2m ketch Aquarius untangled it all, winning to edge out the 39.3 J Class yacht Velsheda by one point in final scoring. Aquarius, built by Royal Huisman and designed by Dykstra, was brand new to racing, as was her owner; she had, however, a crack crew that included several America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race veterans. Taking third in class was the 42.4m ketch Rebecca.
Blue Too, the 33.3m ketch that finished second here last year, stepped it up to post consecutive wins this year and top six yachts in Les Femmes des Mers class. Second-place finisher Bella Ragazza, a 43.1m Vitters-built sloop, sailed solidly with finishes of 3-2-3, while the 33.3m Nakupenda, with a first-time owner/driver, finished third overall in a three-way tiebreaker.