St Barths Bucket competitor collides with brand new superyacht after reported difficulties with autopilot

The 55m motor yacht Steel, recently launched by Pendennis Shipyard in the UK, was badly damaged in St Barths on Monday when the 24m Palmer Johnson ketch Axia, one of the yachts competing in the St Barths Bucket, collided with her at a reported nine knots.

No one was hurt in the accident which happened early on Monday as Axia was leaving the Gustavia anchorage having competed in the Bucket which ended Sunday. Steel (pictured right off St Barths last week), which was constructed in steel to ice breaking classification, was at anchor off the town on her maiden cruise.

Axia was leaving the anchorage when it was thought she experienced difficulties with her autopilot. According to a Pendennis Shipyard spokesman Axia collided with Steel at right angles on her port side just aft of the maindeck accommodation, badly damaging the main bulwark. “The damage is more of a slit than a hole,” he told Yachting World but with the metal work and extensive re-painting needed it could take two months to repair.

Axia, a 169 ton, Sparkman and Stephens ketch built by Palmer Johnson in 1990, underwent an extensive re-fit in 2007. Axia broke her forestay in the collision and there is extensive damage to her topsides on both sides, to her capping rail and other foredeck equipment. Miraculously her rig stayed up and both yachts were able to make their way unaided to St Martin where the damage to both yachts was further assessed.

Pendennis said that Steel may return to Falmouth, Cornwall for repairs but this would depend on the assessment of the damage and insurance.