Hanuman and Ranger slugged it out for the first time in earnest at the St Barths Bucket – David Glenn describes the decisive moment when Ranger took the lead in the final race

Owner John Williams and his crew aboard the J Class Ranger were cock-a-hoop at winning the St Barths Bucket on Sunday but they were equally chuffed about overcoming Dr Jim Clark’s brand new J Class Hanuman 2-1 in their first really competitive meeting.

Erle Williams and Godfrey ‘Godders’ Cray aboard Ranger called a decisive tactical move in the final Wrong Way Round race when they took the inside channel to clear an offshore rock. In the process they benefited hugely from a massive right hand wind shift under a rain squall to put them a dozen boat lengths ahead of Hanuman who had been leading and looking comfortable.

Aboard Barry Houghton’s Dubois designed, Fitzroy built 54m Salperton 1V, I could see the scenario pan out as we approached the small off-lying islet of La Tortue with both Js dead ahead of us. Hanuman was sitting comfortably on Ranger and was looking like taking the series 2-1 but as the two Js contemplated La Tortue Ranger was conveniently lined up for the inside lane while Hanuman had little option but to tack and round to seaward. She was probably further coaxed into going when wily Ranger bowman Jordy Shaver feigned some tacking action. Combined with the massive 15 degree shift under the cloud it turned out to be an LTO – long tack into oblivion – for Hanuman whose fortunes went from bad to worse on the next leg when she blew a kite on the hoist (SEE GALLERY).

But it looks as though the two boats are very well matched for speed. Hanuman is an absolute beauty to look at and there’s no doubt that even with Allan Prior and the depth of experience he has pulled onto the boat there’s still some steepness to the learning curve. Designer Gerard Dykstra said he was pleased with the performance of both yachts, particularly on day one when Ranger had a 30 second advantage in the starting sequence and after more than 20 miles racing was just 17 seconds ahead at the finish.

We’ll be able to see both boats back in action in Antigua when they meet Velsheda in the classic regatta which starts there on April 16 for a four race event – watch this space.
 There will also be a big feature in the June issue of Yachting World on the St Barths Bucket.

In the meantime here are some short videos taken from onboard the yachts I sailed on during the regatta, starting with some footage from the Pendennis built schooner Adela during the second race, now known as the Not So Wiggley Course.

Following that there’s a short clip aboard the Perini 56m sloop Salute which scored an impressive 2nd on the first day when we were aboard and finally there’s something from onboard Barry Houghton’s Salperton with designer Ed Dubois looking aft towards helmsman Andy Green and tactician Cameron Appleton – and that’s Hanuman in the background which we’ve just passed!

Full results for the St Barths Bucket see www.bucketregattas.com