J Class Endeavour will be racing this weekend at the St Barths Bucket. David Glenn reports 30/3/06

The famous Charles Nicholson-designed J Class Endeavour will be back in racing action this weekend at the 2006 St Barths Bucket in the Caribbean which this year is bigger than ever

A notable yacht on the dock is St Barths this week is the fabulous J Class yacht Endeavour, the first and, some say, the best of the re-builds among the modern fleet of Js which includes Velsheda, Shamrock V and the recently re-configured Ranger. Ranger is also stern-to in the St Barths capital Gustavia.

Endeavour has been out of racing action for a number of seasons ever since her owner Dennis Kozlowski fell foul of the law and was eventually jailed for his part in fraud involving his company Tyco. The yacht’s return to the race course, albeit in fairly modest mode, has been widely applauded by the superyacht fraternity. Endeavour is serioulsy for sale and the hopes are her Bucket appearance will help turn the right heads. She looks in terrific shape and it will be interesting to see how she performs against John Williams’s Ranger which has just left Pendennis Shipyard in Falmouth where some 20 tons of internal equipment was re-distributed and five tons removed in an attempt to improve her.

Endeavour and Ranger are part of an astounding fleet gathering on the island for the famous Saint Barths Bucket Regatta, an invitational fun event for sailing yachts measuring over 100ft. And there are 30 beauties here crammed stern-to outside the new capitainerie with 10 more on the ‘waiting list’, hovering at anchor, just in case there are some last minute withdrawals.

The Bucket is meant to be not so much about the racing but about the gathering in one of the Caribbean’s smartest destinations where every other shop has Cartier, Hermes, Louis Vuitton or Chanel glittering in its window.

Owners all turn up and enjoy the intimacy and friendliness the regatta has engendered over the years although some say that with so many yachts in attendance it might be hard to maintain that atmosphere this time round. We’ll see.

There are some other great yachts here including Victoria of Strathearn, Peter Harrison’s Farr ketch Sojana, the mighty schooner Windrose and a clutch of Perinis including Perseus whose owned is having another yacht built at Perini, a lift keel, performance yacht designed by French naval architect Philippe Briand.

Three days of racing start here tomorrow, Friday, with an around the island pursuit race opening proceedings followed by the intriguingly named The Wiggley Course on Saturday. Protests are frowned upon by the committee and will only be accepted if accompanied by a case of good Champagne. The emphasis is on fun and safety. As the eloquent Hank Halsted says in his race committee notes – “Sail safely first, then fast. Win the party!” Hang on to your livers folks..!