The superyacht racing event of the year kicks off in style with typically amicable Caribbean conditions

A very Good Friday. Temperatures were in the late 20s and a slightly stronger than expected force four greeted the 36 superyachts taking part in this, the 17th St Barths Bucket. As well as the unprecedented five Js continuing their battle (once again with Hanuman leading Lionheart home), the three classes of Gazelles, Mademoiselles and Grandes Dames looked resplendent as they hit the line at pace, one after another in a pursuit race anticlockwise around the island.
I was sailing aboard the eye-catching Brenta-designed 100 footer Chrisco in the quickies (Gazelle) class. This four-year old CNB build with her prismatic black coachroof is new to the Bucket scene (having been cruised by her owners until now) – not that you’d know that from her performance today thanks to a highly experienced German owner driver and his crack crew from the Container TP race boats plus various multinational rockstars onboard.
With AC veterans Michele Ivaldi navigating and Dane Stig Westergaard on tactics, the afterguard unsurprisingly played a sharp hand, and we were duly treated to some very close racing with the 38m performance Perini P2 and Andrea Recordati’s highly successful Wally Indio. Despite the extra length of P2, and a considerable weight advantage going to Indio, the bucket rating worked well and we stayed within boatlengths of each other for the majority of the two and a half hour, 21nm race, and the whole of the reaching legs around the top of the island. But it was the ultra-cool 45m Reichel Pugh Visione that swept past us all on the final fetch back to Gustavia to take the class win ahead of P2 and the sleek Southern Wind 100 Cape Arrow.


 Visione passes to weather of Indio

To ensure safe racing the Superyacht Racing Authority (SYRA) have an approved Appendix to the Racing Rules instigating a 40m minimum separation zone for superyacht racing events. So all participating yachts have been issued with a Nikon laser rangefinder provided by Pantaenius, which makes radio commentary entertaining as yachts close in on mark roundings, and crews ‘zap’ each other to quote distance infringements.

Adela crosses Chrisco’s reflective coachroof

In the Mademoiselles class meanwhile, despite what would be considered light conditions for them, the Pendennis built schooner Adela enjoyed the long reaching legs, posting yet another victory, ahead of Salperton which led an impressive six Dubois designs in her class.

For the slightly shorter 17nm course set for the Grand Dames, the elegant Alloy Yachts built Blue Too obviously thrived in the conditions, coming home nearly 11 minutes ahead of her nearest rival, the 56m Perini Panthalassa.

With the breeze due to build all weekend, 2013 looks set to be another beautifully boisterous bucket.

For more info and the official race report see here