Pictures and video from racing aboard the J-Class Rainbow at the St Barths Bucket 2014

For the second race of the St Barths Bucket, I had the privilege of being invited aboard the J-Class Rainbow. This stunning modern interpretation of the original 1933 Burgess designed Cup defender, was reconfigured by Dykstra Naval Architects and launched by Holland Jachtbouw in 2012. With no other Js here to race against she is in ‘cruise mode’ with cruising sails (including yankee and staysail), guardrails and a largely friend-based/full-time crew as opposed to rockstars (obviously some excellent sailors aboard though).

“And we’re only running around 14T of forestay tension,” helmsman Roeland Franssens told me (normally it’s around double that figure)! Rainbow is racing in the speedy ‘Elegantes’ class, but with no other design like her here we were largely left to go around the wiggly figure of eight style course in clean air. I can’t tell you too much about the race however, as the nature of the course dictates frequent headsail and spinnaker changes. So I spent most of the 27nm race helping lug sail bags and pulling down headsails or vast asymmetric spinnakers, while above all, trying to stay onboard.

Even in cruise mode, sailing a J requires all hands to the pump. It was a very wet, but thrilling ride, perhaps best summed up by pictures and video snip.

Carving to weather like only a J can. The conditions at the St Barths
Bucket 2014 have been ideal. For this second race we started in 20 knots
and finished in 16. For Rainbow this meant 11 knots upwind and an
average of 13 reaching under asymmetric kite and staysail.

Video clip of the first leg downwind to the Grouper rocks. Note the cruising sails rather than 3Di, boom arms for the main, and guardrails.

Bowman Simon ‘Stitch’ Tibbot does his thing in front of photographers in a helicopter – here he is retrieving the downline for the snuffer, whilst doing 13.5 knots reaching under kite.

Comparatively dry at the back: Roeland Franssens, MD of Rainbow’s builder HJB drives, with Richard ‘Bicky’ Bicknell from North Sails NZ calling tactics and Rainbow’s Bridget Denning trimming main.

And this is with guardrails on… A short upwind leg, just before one of the mid-bow crew got washed all the way down the foredeck on the spinnaker bag, meeting the shroud base at speed.