Adela crowned overall winner as St Barths delivers vintage sparkling wine conditions
Courses for very grand horses – Easter Sunday proved a cracking day for the final pursuit race of this year’s St Barths Bucket, with the sun finally getting the better of the clouds, combining with a force five to six and a swell, to encourage 37 of the world’s most spectacular super sailing yachts stretch their legs. The ‘Wrong way around the island’ (clockwise) course is the perfect finish to this regatta in these conditions with a downwind kite run to start (for those happy to carry them in up to 25 knot rain squalls), and a long beat around the top of the island, finishing in style with a drag reach to the line off the main port of Gustavia.
Timing the run to the downwind start is tricky on these size boats, especially with the threat of a five-minute penalty for those over the line.
With big rain squalls for the first leg we started shyly on the new Oyster 100 Sarafin, on the tails of Athos and Adela (complete with an afterguard including Dennis Conner), who were both late for the start too, but once our aqua coloured gennaker was hoisted, Sarafin reveled in the strong breeze over flat water, clocking 13-14 knots down to the bottom run – including, I hasten to add as a member of the crack foredeck team, a couple of seamless gybes.
Unfortunately Athos had to pull out of her duel with Adela at that point due to a crew member badly injuring his leg, so the Pendennis rebuilt schooner was left to a clear beat out to sea. We stayed inshore, milking the lifts, but fellow Dubois designs Salperton and Zefira liked the look of that line too, and with their 15m+ waterline advantage were through us half way around the course. Salperton (with Shirley Robertson steering) went on to take the class win a mere 10 seconds ahead of her fellow Fitzroy build (later disqualified on protest), with Adela securing the class and overall win by taking second.
A knotted sock meant a frustrating finish for our Aussie crew as we failed to get the gennaker back up and watched three places drop on the last leg – with Rebecca alongside seemingly having the same issues. An anticlimactical finish perhaps, but not enough to wipe the smiles off the inspiring spirits aboard the Aussie owners, guests and crew aboard Sarafin.
St Barths has been first time five J’s have raced a regatta together in over 75 years, and while the racing was consistently close each day, Jim Clark’s Dykstra-designed Hanuman proved unbeatable in all four races (she came second over the line today to Lionheart by two seconds after 26nm racing, winning on corrected time!). The crew, skippered by Puma’s Ken Read, had reportedly been putting in the most pre-regatta practice and it showed, as they took the King’s 100 Guinea Cup. Lionheart meanwhile secured second, and the Corinthian King’s Cup for the best owner-driver – a sterling effort from this relatively new Hoek-designed Super J.
The 48m maroon-coloured Georgia built by Alloy Yachts staked a second win ahead of Blue Too and nine Perini Navis, claiming the Grandes Dames class win ahead of a spirited challenge from the 56m ketch Parsifal III.
In the quicker boat, Gazelles class, Visione, P2 and Cape Arrow may have all been tied on points going into the race, but it was Unfurled, the 34m Frers designed sloop that snuck in the back door. A point behind before the race, they nailed the circumnavigation and got their second class win today ahead of P2, to claim the overall class victory after a tie-break with the performance Perini.
A prize-giving held at Nikki Beach made for a fittingly glamorous end to this, the uber-glam big boat regatta of the year.
For more and full results go to the Bucket website here
Pictures courtesy of Ingrid Abery