On the eve of the third running of Les Voiles de St. Barth, April 2-7, the palm-fringed port of Gustavia, St.Barthlemy quickly filled with an impressive array of race boats: ocean-racing maxis including the 90-foot Rambler and the Swan 112, Highland Breeze; classic beauties such the Olin Stephen-designed Dorade and the Fife-built yawl Mariella; a trio of IRC 52s, multi-hulls including the 66 Gunboat Phaedo, and two large racing classes with a mix of Melges, J/boats, and a mix of 40-footers, including the hot-off-the-press Carkeek 40, Decision.
Over 60 boats are registered for this years edition, up fromwith a large number of returning entries, proof that the regatta has filled the need for spirited competition towards the end of the winter season a time when tourism typically begins to wind down in the Caribbean. Though that was hard to tell yesterday, at the islands tiny airport, as the steady stream of small commuter planes landing were filled with a duffle bag-wielding collection of sailors from the ranks of the Americas Cup, round-the-world-ocean races, and Olympic competition, that included Gavin Brady (Vesper), Scott Vogel (Rambler), Bouwe Bekking (Nilaya), Cam Lewis (Paradox), Charlie McKee and Ross MacDonald (Mayhem), Tony Rey, Jeff Madrigali, and Nacho Postigo (Powerplay), and Dee Smith (Decision).
But its not just the professionals that flock to Les Voiles de St. Barth, the regattas program and mix of courses also appeals to a competitive group of amateur and family racers that hone their skills on the growing circuit of Caribbean regattas that take advantage of this sailing paradise.
While not the easiest of destinations to reach some U.S. west coast sailors logged 16+ hours in transit, while others from Europe only slightly less the island of St Barths itself is a welcome reward at the end of the road: a turquoise blue, crystal-clear sea, pristine white sand beaches, and an array of fabulous restaurants just payoff for a long days journey.
Francesco Mongelli, navigator onboard Jim Swartz IRC52 Vesper, is here racing in St Barths for the first time. The Italian sailor, who sails primarily in Europe, has been racing with the Vesper crew since last October, and was clearly keen to have touched down in this French paradise, Its a mix of all the best sailing places, together with perfect weather and good food. Having spent the afternoon in a tender carefully checking out the coastline and charted (and uncharted) rock outcroppings, Mongelli added, Its pretty similar to Porto Cervo, the difference is that there you more or less know where everything is, and the charts are accurate. You cannot take the same risk here that wed take in Porto Cervo.
Racing will run from Tuesday, April 3 Saturday, April 7 and will feature a mix of Olympic triangles, short coastal courses, and a 20-30 nautical mile round-the island race. The fleet will be split into seven classes: Maxi (> 21 meters), IRC52 (former TP52s that have been optimized for the IRC rule), Spinnaker I + II, Non-Spinnaker (racer/cruiser), Classic (vintage/traditional), and Multihull. Thursday is a layday at Nikki Beach, with lunch and a full afternoon of activities, including a paddleboard competition.
New this year, Les Voiles will offer real-time race tracking with 2D visualization via the internet. Waypoint-Tracking (www.waypoint-tracking.com) developed the system in close collaboration with ISAF. The site will allow enthusiasts to follow the daily racing action live or to replay at a later time.
Many of the competing boats are moored stern-to at the Quai General de Gaulle, site of the Race Village, where all of the daily breakfast and post-race activities and music take place. This evening, skippers and tacticians were on hand for the Skippers Briefing led by Loic Ponceau, Race Committee Chairman, and organizers Francois Tolede, Luc Poupon, and Annelisa Gee. Following that was Les Voiles St. Barth Opening Ceremony, where Bruno Magras, President of the Collectivit of St. Barth, welcomed more than 500 sailors to the weeklong event.
A regular and enthusiastic competitor in the Caribbean, Sir Peter Harrison was named the godfather or patron of this years Les Voiles. Harrison, owner of the 115-foot Farr-designed Sojana, told the crowd, As a visitor from England to this beautiful French island, one of the most beautiful in the West Indies, Im thrilled to be asked to the patron of Les Voiles. Bon vent Les Voiles de St. Barth, and good luck, everyone!
Also sailing on Sojana is Lionel Pan, who is also back for his third Les Voiles. He said, Obviously there are plenty of good reasons to be here, and to come back every year with the same enthusiasm: this place is made for sailing. In a very short time, Les Voiles de St. Barth has become the place to be, very much like Saint Tropez in the Mediterranean. And the word is spreading around. Shortly there will be a waiting list to be a part of the event!
The weather forecast for the next few days calls for light winds, though the breeze is expected to increase throughout the week. Racing is scheduled to start tomorrow, Tuesday, April 3, two miles northwest of Sugarloaf Rock off Gustavia; one race is scheduled with a start time of 12noon.
By Norma Trease
As The Bard said “parting is such sweet sorrow”, and that is exactly the way everyone feels at the end of another fantastic edition of the Saint Barths Bucket. With every hug, every single-double-triple goodbye kiss, every sincere “I love you” a piece of your heart leaves with each friend and sailing companion who departs for their home ports by plane, ferry – or indeed by yacht. Yet we all know that in this world, we will all meet again, whether in another country, surely another regatta, boat show, wedding, or quay encounter in another port town. ‘Tis the nature of our biz! The upshot is that we carry with us, one and all, amazing memories of another Bucket, bigger and better than ever.
Michael Bradfield, owner of the superb Dubois-designed, Royal Huisman built Twizzle, summed it up as well as I ever could. “What a superb and exciting Bucket Regatta. The sailing was varied and challenging and brilliantly planned. The four categories were spot on and the exciting and tight finishes were a testament to the superb rating by Jim Teeters. Peter Craig as PRO and the team did a superb job of promoting a rich and varied regatta with a strong emphasis on safety and good nature. It was a privilege being able to take part.”
With forty seven yachts of this value and calibre, all competing for prizes, glory and bragging rights, racing can sometimes get a little hairy. Yet with the intense professionalism of both permanent and racing crews, once again, Bucket racing in Saint Barths remained safe, and with other than a few protest-enducing close calls, and some gear failure, everything turned out well in the end. However, there were some incidents of the yacht air-kiss variety.
On Day Three of racing, “Round the Island the Other Way”, with the four classes separated into two parallel courses, there were less of the mega-million-dollar-baby pile ups we all gasped at on Day Two. Day Threes’ biggest heart thumping moments happened at the finish line, which went between a marker buoy, and the lovely Burger yacht committee boat, Ingot. Blue Too, who had a great race, coming in 2nd in Class and 3rd place overall, narrowly avoided becoming the filing in a Perini panini. It was an exciting race for Perinis today, as Fidelis, and Parsifal III came across the finish line within inches of each other, and Andromeda also came exceedingly close to the committee boat.
BTW, a sincere “Merci Bucket” must be given to our three graciously loaned committee boats Rena, Krisujen, and Ingot. They are an integral part of Bucket racing, providing excellent hospitality and a great environment for our hard-working Race Committee officers, while also serving as appropriately elegant foils to the superb sailing yachts who pass them twice each day. Thanks very much!
It’s virtually impossible to fairly rate a gigantic fleet of this magnitude and diversity. No one has more data available, or crunches those numbers more assiduously than our ratings guru, Jim Teeters. Yet unfortunately, despite achieving the goal of many excitingly close-to-photo finishes, you can never please everyone in this super knowledgeable and experienced crowd. Amy Laing, who has for many years managed the complexities of the very busy Whisper program, delicately explained their frustrations at the ratings they received this year (which saw them start three from last on Day Three, for instance.) “The racing format needs work!” She further explained, “the size and number of yachts has rendered the objective of an overall winner impossible to fairly determine. The committee should be applauded for running this Bucket Regatta as competitively as it did given the obsolete format. I am sure Peter Craig will solve the format issue and Jim Titters will fairly rate the fleet in the future.” Extremely constructive criticism, and it is obvious that the Bucket racings need to be as varied and flexible as are the entries themselves.
Excellent racing and cruising skipper Dean Maggio, who unfortunately was involved in one of the few protests, looked at it from a historical perspective “this used to be resolved with a case of champagne, but no more! Maybe we could go back to that!” Capt. Johnno Johnson of Antara, always the Bucket host-with-the-most, also shared his frustrations too, “not matter how well we sail- and we’ve had some cracking good sailing here, we simply can’t get ahead of all of these bigger, newer boats. Sure, the owner and guests are having the time of their lives – but we like to at least be in the middle of the fleet.” Antara was this year awarded the Skulduggery Cravat for their always-excellent good humour, and much appreciated hospitality.
The All-Star Crew went to Endeavour - who were so much admired as they decorated the courses daily, and also came in top in the J-Class, with a very respectable 23rd overall. The Vitters Seamanship Trophy was given to Race Committee member Don Gunning, who worked night and day to keep this race safe, and enjoyable for everyone.
Lots of awards going around: Perini Navi Barracuda, took home the always coveted Escargot Cup – whose title is self-explanatory. The Alloy Yacht Award for the top performing Alloy Yacht went to Blue Too. In a charming speech, Alice Huisman presented the Wolter Huisman Memorial Award, given to the yacht or person who best exhibits the ‘spirit of the Bucket’ to Capt. Richard Archer of the Swan Virago, well-known for their competitive spirit, and intense emphasis on safety. The Perini Navi Cup, which had a lot of potential winners in this years bumper-crop, was given to Panthalassa, who had an excellent race, coming in 2nd in Les Grandes Dames class, and 4th overall.
BRAVO, BRAVI, BRAVE to every one of us all lucky enough to part if this always totally awe-inspiring event – or as Don Tofias, that yacht-loving, and Bucket-loving sailorman says “the 2012 edition of the St. Barths Bucket is now complete, and as always – Yachting was the Winner.”
Blogger Norma Trease, one of the most sincere Bucket fans ever, is celebrating her own 25th Bucket Regatta – but who’s counting?
This Is Us
Les Gazelles Winners
Les Grandes Dames Winners
Les Elegantes Winners
This Is Us
Les Mademoiselles Winners
All Star Crew Award
Wolter Huisman Memorial Spirit of the Bucket Trophy
Perini Navi Cup
Vitter’s Shipyard Seamanship Trophy
Don Gunning – Race Committee
Descriptions of Awards
Best Performance by an Alloy Yacht
All Star Crew Award
At each Bucket Event, every yacht is asked to cast a ballot for the yacht crew among the fleet that demonstrates the most professional service in all tasks, while maintaining the best voie de vivre, camaraderie, teamwork and respect among the crew. This is the crew that displays the pinnacle of the profession and has the most fun at it – the yacht that everyone wants to work aboard. Because the award is earned by peer recognition, it has earned serious stature within the marine industry.
Spirit of the Bucket Trophy
This award is presented each year by Alice Huisman, to the yacht that best exemplifies the spirit of the Bucket Regattas. The selection is absolutely subjective, but considers sportsmanship, safe seamanship, best hospitality and overall contribution to the event.
We have created a lot of humor around the premise that “Bribes can get you anything in the Bucket” and this is where the truth comes clear. The Bucket Regatta was really started as a Club of yacht owners who loved nothing more than sailing their yachts well, getting the best out of them, and then sharing great yarns and libation at the end of the day. There are a group of owners who have contributed a lot to the event over the years, from tenders to parties, committee boats, etc. It is this Spirit that sets this event apart from all others. It is in recognition of this Spirit that the Wolter Huisman Memorial Trophy is awarded.
Perini Navi Cup
Perini-Navi Yacht with the best result.
Vitters Seamanship Trophy
Awarded to the yacht that demonstrates the best seamanship and sportsmanship in the interest of promoting safety on the race course. All participants in the Bucket acknowledge that superyachts have serious limitations operating safely in close quarters and therefore, the RC has always valued safety well above performance. This award will recognize the yacht that best demonstrates that understanding. It also goes to prove that nice guys don’t always finish last!!
The Skullduggery Cravat is a perfectly tied Admiralty Noose, framed, with instructions in elegant calligraphy on how to tie a proper, 13 turn noose. This was originally awarded to the owner of SARIYAH in 2002, so his captain, Timothy Laughridge (Bucket Committee) could be hung at the pleasure of the Fleet.
The award was renamed and put forward by the Committee to reinforce the Bucket premise that we are NOT here to promulgate adult behavior. The Cravat will be awarded to the yacht and crew who display the best bucket humor. As a guideline, we again focus on SARIYAH, where one year they spent the evening prior to the last race, slaughtering a down feathered mattress, then they packed the feathers in with their spinnaker so when they set their ‘Chute with the Hawk logo the following day, they not only dusted the horizon with feathers, but left a rubber chicken hanging from their spinnaker pole!!!
Breathtaking photos, results and more on the web site: http://www.bucketregattas.com/stbarths/index.html
By Norma Trease
My mother used to say “if life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” The Saint Barths Bucket version of this was heard at the end of today’s very rainy race from Rebecca’s helmsman saying “well, at least we don’t have to wash down – or chamois!” The other upside of this unseasonable – even cold – rain falling in buckets all day was that it brought wind. Albeit the gusty, the fluky, variable winds we saw proved as much a challenge as an asset. So Day One of the Saint Barths Bucket proved to be very interesting indeed, a dramatic start to an always fascinating racing spectacle.
To begin with, this incredible fleet, featuring 47 of the worlds’ most impressive sailing yachts, hailing from every yacht building nation on earth, with a LOA of close to two kilometers in length total is mind boggling to any normal human being, even us hundreds of die-hard Bucketeers. Add in a new, fourth ratings class, and the ever-present discussions which surround the Bucket Ratings System, and the stage is set for a lot of excitement.
Day One as usual featured the ‘Round the Island Race’ clockwise. The races here are based on the pursuit racing theory which has yachts begin at staggered times based on predicted performance, which when figured correctly (as if this were possible with a fleet of this breathtaking diversity), and counting in slightly differing courses for some of the classes – could, or should result in all of the yachts coming across the finish line at the same time. Great concept, and there’s doubt that no one does it better that our ratings guru Jim Teeters, but can you imagine the fear factor in that amount enormous, and hugely valuable fleet of floating assets bearing on the same finish line at the same time? Needless to say, it rarely happens just that way.
Todays’ Bucket racing proved about as good as it gets, despite the unseasonable weather. Most of the yachts had great starts, with many of them right on the money, or bare seconds behind their allotted times. Throughout the race, which was either 20.8 or 24.5 miles depending upon your class, there was some seriously thrilling sailing. The finishes – proving that the years of data crunching behind the Bucket Ratings system actually does produce results – were in a few cases almost too close. The final mark proved a bottle neck, which saw several encounters of the heart-stopping variety, including a couple of clusters of Perini Navis coming within drink-sharing distance of each other. A definitely too intimate meeting of Whisper, Rebecca and Salperton – which came very close to producing the seriously frowned-upon protest – was averted at the last minute by the usual gentlemanly discussion. No T-bones today!
These yachts, although increasingly built to perform on the race course, are still at heart cruising vessels, and invariably, the rarely seen stresses that racing places on the yachts can – and does – cause some damage. Depending on who you spoke to, there were anything from four to eight spinnaker sails shredded, including those on Barracuda and Meteor. Most seriously damaged was the largest yacht in the fleet, the very impressive 67m Baltic Yacht Hetairos, designed by one of hottest current yacht design collaborations possible, Dysktra and Reichel/Pugh. She unfortunately hit a submerged rock and did quite a bit of damage to her keel – yet finished the race to the bitter end.
This was a race where experience really counted. The gorgeous classic 43m ketch Rebecca, which was designed by German Frers, and built at Pendennis Shipyard, has participated in many yacht races worldwide. Their well-rehearsed team, composed of experienced former and current yacht skippers, has brought them onto the winners’ podium at numerous Buckets. They chose the conservative route, carrying up on deck and rigging three different spinnakers, and in the end, although they could have chosen a more aggressive approach, went with a heavier sail, but at least, brought it back on deck safe and sound. From my point of view riding on board as an ‘extra’, the swath she cut through the eleven vessel Elegantes de Mer class, with a start as second-to-last place, and finishing right in the middle provided a fantastic view of the entire fleet as we chased and caught up with most of the yachts on the course today.
The newly formed Mademoiselles de la Mer class, dominated by no less than ten Dubois designed beauties, saw a very excited Ed Dubois chortling over his very first ever Bucket race win on Lady B, snagging both first in class and first over all. Ganesha and Salperton IV came in at 2nd and 3rd place respectively. With the vast quantity of yacht owners they make happy year after year – not to mention the aesthetic satisfaction they bring to their legion of fans worldwide – they deserve lots of prizes. Congrats to him and his great Dubois team!
In Les Grandes Dames, a/k/a the Perini Navi class, there was a battle of titans, as two of the Bucket founder captains, Tim Laughridge and Ian Craddock did guest helmsman duty on Parsifal III and Antara. The light variable winds did not at all favor these elegant, stately beauties, yet that did not stop them from battling mightily all throughout the race course. Capt. Timmy snagged a First in class with some quite aggressive driving. Axia, with her multi-generation family team, their dogged hard work, and long-time Bucket participation, well merited their close 2nd in class. The sleek Panthalassa rounded out 3rd place in Les Grandes.
Adela, another long-time favourite Bucket boat, swept to first in Les Elegantes, with Blue Too and This Is Us chasing them closely. Overall winners were Lady B, Adela, and Mari-Cha III. The newly instituted daily prize givings were well-attended by many still soggy Bucketeers.
The rain stopped just in time for the chamois to be wielded, the champagne popped, and hors d’oeuvres to be prepared for the Yacht Hop, which due to some serious security measures, remained very civilized. Very popular were Bliss, Barracuda and Parsifal III, but as usual – the party winner favours always go to those dancing fools on Antara. Their theme this year was Motown, and they had the sound system, the tunes, the bling and the hairdos to carry it off in style.
The sun is out for Day Two of the Saint Barths Bucket 2012. We’re all looking forward to enjoying another great day out on the water. See you on the race course!
By Norma Trease
Emails are already flying back and forth from yachts, to skippers, owners, race crew, the Race Committee, to hotels on island and everything in between, just a short week in advance of the always breathlessly anticipated Saint Barths Bucket, March 22-25, 2012. Soon, yachts, owners and crew will be descending on this verdant little slice of Caribbean heaven, eager to share the tremendous excitement and pure sailing joy that is Bucket Racing.
Just announced by the Race Chairman Peter Craig is a spectacular fleet of more than 40 vessels, representing builders and designers worldwide. Once again, the fleet will be split into three classes: Les Gazelles, Les Grandes Dames, and Les Elegantes.
Needless to say, there will be a huge variety in the fleet, which this year will range from 27 to 62m LOA. He has published a detailed description of the various factors involved in the devilishly complicated task of calibrating the classes, so for more details, please do check St. Barths Bucket
|Les Elegantes des Mers|
|Adela||Schooner||Pendennis Shipyard||Dykstra & Partners||55m|
|Bequia||Ketch||Brooklin Boat Yard||Stephens||28m|
|Meteor||Schooner||Royal Huisman||Dykstra & Partners||52m|
|This is Us||Schooner||Holland Jachtbouw||Hoek||42m|
|William Tai||Ketch||Royal Huisman||Hood||40m|
|Les Grandes Dames des Mers|
|Andromeda la dea||Ketch||Perini Navi||Perini Navi||47m|
|Antara||Ketch||Perini Navi||Perini Navi||47m|
|Blue Too||Ketch||Alloy Yachts||Holland||34m|
|Clan VIII||Sloop||Perini Navi||Holland||45m|
|Fidelis||Ketch||Perini Navi||Perini Navi / Holland||56m|
|Ganesha||Sloop||Fitzroy Yachts||Dubois NA||39m|
|Helios II||Sloop||Perini Navi||Holland||45m|
|Parsifall III||Ketch||Perini Navi||Holland||54m|
|Les Gazelles des Mers|
|Endeavour||Sloop||Camper & Nicholson||Thomas Sopwith||40m|
|Hanuman||Sloop||Royal Huisman||Dykstra & Partners||42m|
|Hetairos||Ketch||Baltic Yachts||Dykstra / R/P||67m|
|Lady B||Sloop||Vitters Shipyard||Dubois||45m|
|Ranger||Sloop||Danish Yachrs||Burgess & Stephens||42m|
|Velsheda||Sloop||Camper & Nicholson||Nicholson||38m|
Everyone has a soft spot for one repeat Bucket boat or another, and back this year will be fleet favourites Antara, Andromeda La Dea, Axia, Parsifal III, Ranger and Sojana to mention but a few. A couple of newer beauties will be making their second Bucket appearances including Huismans Twizzle, and Hanuman; joined by Hoek-designed Marie, who fired up the crowds last year with their spectacular air shows of historic WWII planes. Making Bucket debuts this year are Holland Yachtbouw schooner Athos, at 62m the largest Bucket Boat 2012; and of course, it wouldn’t be a Bucket without a couple of brand-new Perini Navis, Clan VIII and Fidelis.
So, Bucket fans worldwide, prepare yourselves for the best week of the year coming up very soon, an annual treat for racing fans, and lovers of beautiful yachts alike. So it’s Bon Voyage and A Bientot until we see you next in Saint Barths!
When the third annual Les Voiles des St. Barth gets underway this April 2-7, there will be more that meets the eye than the simply stunning panoramic views of the colorful French West Indies island that hosts the event and the expansive blue Caribbean ocean that surrounds it. Competitive sailors and, for that matter, local residents and visitors alike will have the privilege of also indulging in the indelible impressions left by the aesthetically unmatched designs of some of the world’s finest yachts participating as well as the passion of their owners.
Among the 60+ entrants registered to date is what many call the world’s most famous yacht of all time: the 52’ (15.8 metre) yawl Dorade. Purchased in 2010 by Matt Brooks (San Francisco, Calif.), Dorade was designed by the late Olin Stephens and originally launched in 1930. She influenced nearly all developments in yacht design for the next three decades and was hugely successful in distance racing, taking overall victory in the 1931 Transatlantic race and the 1931 and 1933 Fastnet races, among others. Now, Brooks, who has spent the last year overseeing a refit and major restoration of Dorade, is utilizing Les Voiles de St. Barth as a platform for both yacht and crew preparation, with the goal of entering Dorade in her first major modern ocean race this summer: the Newport to Bermuda Race, in which she finished second in both 1930 and 1932.
“We are assembling and training a crew with the right skills, chemistry and experience to race Dorade and win,” said Brooks, who is a world champion in the Six Meter class as well as an accomplished mountain climber and world record-holding jet pilot. “We also are toughening up Dorade herself, readying her for the kind of long-range sailing she hasn’t seen in decades, keeping in mind that while she may be game, she is also an 80-year-old lady.”
Dorade will sail in the Classics division against such other standouts as Kate, an Intel 60 (18.2 metre); Cruinneag III, a 63’ (19.4 metre) ketch, and Marie Des Isles, a Gran Shpountz 65 (20 metre). Among Dorade’s crew will be John Burnham, an IOD World Champion and Shields ClassNational Champion; legendary Bermudian sailor Buddy Rego; Jesse Sweeney, Dorade’s navigator and a member of the Camper Emirates Team New Zealand’s meteorology team for the Volvo Ocean Race; and Jamie Hilton, a two-time 12 Meter World and North American Champion, who also was a member of Brooks’s team when it won the 2011 Six Meter World Cup.
“St. Barth is a legendary destination and a beautiful place to sail, and we are expecting great wind, great camaraderie among the competitors, and a good test of the new and improved Dorade,” said Brooks.
Another remarkable yacht that will be seen in St. Barth is the Hoek 115’ (35.2 metre) Firefly, the recently launched prototype for the new one-design F Class. The superyacht was designed to hold her own against larger (130’/39.7 metre) J Class yachts and sports some similarities such as a towering rig and long bow and stern overhangs to those massive yachts, which were built in the 1930s and have experienced a rebirth.
According to her designers, Firefly is a perfect mix of classic lines and retro-design details, optimizing her for the Spirit of Tradition classes hosted by some regattas, but at Les Voiles de St. Barth she will depend on her high-performance racing characteristics to prevail against eight other yachts thus far signed up in Maxi class (yachts 75’/22.86 metres and longer).
“The concept is to have a beautiful, classic-looking boat with a modern underbody, using the latest technologies in deck gear and rigging solely for use as a racing boat and/or daysailer,” said Mark van Gelderen, who supervised Fireflys nine-month building process and has been the captain since she splashed in June of 2011. Having headed straight to the Med to compete in a handful of maxi events, Firefly was further optimized to improve performance before heading to the Caribbean.
“We have a relatively young crew combined of professional sailors, very good amateurs and friends of the owner,” added van Gelderen, who will be skippering and driving together with the owner. “Within the crew we have Olympic, Volvo Ocean Race, big boat and dinghy experienced sailors a great combination of very motivated guys!”
Van Gelderen also explained that St. Barth will offer a great place for guests and crew to be entertained when not participating in racing. “There are beaches, great restaurants, shopping and peace and tranquility, all within close proximity,” van Gelderen said. “It’s the perfect combination.”
While three other Maxi Class boats — the 112′/34 metre Baltic Nilaya, the 112′/34 metre Swan Highland Breeze, and the 115’/35 metre Farr Sojana — are nicely matched size-wise to Firefly, no one is quite sure how they or five smaller Maxis in the class are going to compare speed-wise. Certainly all eyes will be on the 90′ (27.4 metre) Reichel/Pugh Rambler, which won the inaugural Les Voiles de St. Barth and has been brought out of retirement by its owner George David (Hartford, Conn.) after its successor, Rambler 100 (which won last years Les Voiles de St. Barth with David steering) lost its keel and capsized in the 2011 Fastnet.
“These races invariably start a mile or two off Gustavia (the main harbor and capital of St. Barth), which means in any kind of a northeasterly trade it is a shifty first leg to a weather mark just outside the harbor,” said David, who most recently finished second overall and second in class with Rambler at the 2012 RORC Caribbean 600. “Then there are a couple of miles reaching either way across the south side of the island, so it’s a parade after that first weather mark, and you don’t want to get there second. Our ride last year, Rambler 100, got us there first every time with boat lengths to spare. It wont be so easy in the 90 footer.”
David noted that 15 of Ramblers crew sailing in the Les Voiles de St. Barth were present at the now-famous Fastnet incident, and a majority of them have sailed in the last two runnings of this regatta.
In addition to the Classic and Maxi classes at Les Voiles de St. Barth, there will also be a Racing Class with divisions for Spinnaker, Non-Spinnaker, 52-Footers, and Multihulls. Other notable entries include the Tripp 75 Blackbird, the Carkeek 40 Decision, the X 65 Karuba 5, and the Irens 63 trimaran Paradox.
With a Tuesday (April 3) through Saturday (April 7) schedule that includes four days of intense racing and a lay day on Thursday (April 5), the regatta kicks off on Monday, April 2, with opening ceremonies and cocktails at the festive Race Village on the Quai General de Gaulle overlooking Gustavia Harbor, where the event is headquartered. Lay day events planned for Nikki Beach include lunch and a surprise sporting challenge for all crews. Evening activities include off-site parties as well as post-racing bands and entertainment in the Race Village.
Organizers unveiled the official limited edition Les Voiles de St. Barth 2012 poster by well-known St. Barth artist Antoine Heckly. Only 300 posters will be printed, with the original artwork to be auctioned off during the crew party –hosted by the real estate agency, Sibarth — at Shell Beach on Wednesday, April 4. Proceeds from this auction will be donated to FEMUR (Foundation for Emergency Medical Equipment) to fund the purchase of a CT scanner to be installed in the new Radiation Center in the island’s Hopital de Bruyn.
It has been a busy 24 hours at the Antigua Yacht Club. At dawn on the fifth day of the RORC Caribbean 600, only three yachts were still at sea vying to complete the course before tonight’s Prizegiving celebrations and all of the class winners are now provisionally decided. The bar at the Antigua Yacht Club has been in full swing, buzzing with stories between the crews and songs in a myriad of different languages.
Team Selene skippered by Benjamin Davitt finished yesterday morning. The Swan 80 sailed an excellent race to claim third place overall and will lift the prestigious Swan Caribbean Challenge Trophy later this evening.
Without doubt, the closest racing for this year’s event was in IRC One. Colin Buffin’s Swan 62, Uxorious IV, was first to finish, but the team did not celebrate a class win. Buffin and his young team knew that Amanda Hartley’s Swan 56, Clem, was extremely close to eclipsing their corrected time. Just over three and half hours passed before Clem crossed the finish line to win the class by just 21 seconds on corrected time. There were ecstatic scenes dockside as the Spanish crew of Clem celebrated their class win. The entire crew of Uxorious IV including Colin Buffin sportingly applauded their rivals. Amanda Hartley spoke of their win.
“‘We had no idea until we crossed the line and turned on our phones which went crazy with people calling in from Spain. By our calculation we thought we had lost out by five minutes. We got stuck at Guadeloupe for four hours and we could only sit and watch Uxorious get away. We are obviously extremely delighted and really appreciate Colin and his team coming over to give us such a lovely welcome back to Antigua.”
Jaime Torres’ Puerto Rican First 40, Smile And Wave, finished shortly after midnight last night to claim third in IRC One.
Scarlet Logic, co-skippered by Ross Applebey and Tim Thubron, finished the RORC Caribbean 600 shortly after 2300 last night. The Oyster 48 has been vying for the overall win for the last two days. In the end Scarlet Logic missed out, but the team had put in an incredible effort and have been rewarded with a convincing win in IRC Two. Scarlet Logic has the best corrected time in IRC One, Two and Three and as a result will be awarded the fantastic prize of a week’s accommodation at the luxurious Inn at English Harbour.
“Fantastic, elated but bloody tired,” admitted Tim Thubron, co-skipper of Scarlet Logic. The weather lined up nicely for us and we were aware that we were in with a chance of beating the big, well funded professional teams and that really spurred us on and made us push even harder. A lot of credit must go to the whole team, especially Ross Applebey. Scarlet was immaculately prepared and we hardly had a single breakage, however we did need to drop the main to replace a sail slide. The job was done and the main back up in eight minutes, that to me says it all.”
There was joy and pain for both IRC Canting Keel and the Class40s. Ernesto Cortina’s Volvo 70 Gran Jotiti finished the race in just over two days. The Spanish team is racing the yacht formerly known as Telefonica Black in the last Volvo Ocean Race. Ernesto spoke about his team shortly after finishing. “This has been a great experience, even though our result was badly affected by a lot of sail damage. Many of the sails are tired from thousands of miles of racing. However, the crew have been a joy to sail with and this race is helping us build for the future. Gran Jotiti’s aim is to create a world class amateur Spanish offshore sailing team and we have learnt a lot through this race.
Ron O’Hanley’s Cookson 50, Privateer, showed exceptional pace and boat handling throughout. Unfortunately the American team failed to start correctly and accepted a 10% penalty from the race organisers resulting in Gran Jotiti being declared winner of IRC Canting Keel.
The Class40s turned into a battle royale between Christophe Coatnoan’s Partouche and Christof Petter’s Vaquita. The two Class40s were locked in a heroic tacking duel for the final push to the finish line, a 40-mile beat from Redonda to the finish in Antigua.
Vaquita crossed the line just after sunset beating Partouche by a slender margin, just 15 minutes in a race lasting over 3 days. However, Vaquita failed to start the race correctly and to the Austrian crew’s disappointment, the class win was awarded to Partouche: “It was a tough race and we had a couple of moments that really slowed us down,” commented Christophe Coatnoan who raced two-handed with Eric Calmard. “We picked up a fishing float after Nevis without realising and we probably lost 8 miles before we knew it was there. Later at Guadeloupe, I had to dive into the water to free Partouche from yet another fishing buoy. The race was an excellent test for our new design especially for our sails as I think we used every one of them during the race.”
Vaquita’s Andreas Hanakamp commented: “Obviously we are disappointed to have been penalised but we were delighted with our performance. Partouche is a brand new Finot design, whilst Vaquita is a 2006 Akilaria. The RORC Caribbean 600 is a testing race course and a very tough race, exactly what we needed to prepare for our main competition of the season, The Atlantic Cup later this year.”
The latest competitor to finish the RORC Caribbean 600 is Bernie Evan-Wong’s Mumm 36, High Tension. Falmouth Harbour exploded with noise as the smallest yacht in the race tied up right outside the Antigua Yacht Club. Thunderous blasts from megayachts, superyachts and foghorns literally shook the dock as the whole of the sailing community in Falmouth heralded the arrival of local hero Bernie and his crew.
“I said we would be here tonight but I always like to be early for appointments,” joked the Antiguan dentist. “It was a hard but satisfying race and the beat from Redonda to the finish seemed to take forever. We could see Antigua but it just didn’t seem to be getting any bigger, however a few miles out a massive rain squall hit and veered the wind favourably for us to speed our way to Antigua. After last year’s dismasting, I think maybe someone was looking out for us!”
Tonight the RORC Caribbean 600 Prizegiving Ceremony will take place at the Antigua Yacht Club. The two yachts still racing are Igor Zaretskiy’s, First 40.7 Coyote II and the RACYC Offshore Racing Team – White Knight’s Spirit of Venus. Both are expected to make tonight’s party, which should be a momentous occasion.
The 4th RORC Caribbean 600, starts at 1100 on Monday 20th February. There isn’t a single hotel room left near Antigua Yacht Club, as competitors fly in to the magical island of Antigua from all four corners of the world – Falmouth Harbour is filled to the brim with astounding yachts.
Niklas Zennström’s JV72, Rán, and George David’s RP90, Rambler, are the hot favourites for the RORC Caribbean Trophy, but the two highly impressive yachts are almost hidden in Falmouth Harbour. Rán were out practicing today and Navigator Steve Hayles reports that conditions were a bit lighter than usual, but he expects 15-20 knots of trade winds for the race with their weather routing predicting that they could finish the race in 48 hours, may be less.
RORC member, Stan Pearson has lived and sailed the sublime waters around Antigua for over 20 years. He was one of the creators of the RORC Caribbean 600 and will be racing this year on Adela, the 181′ twin masted schooner:
“I can’t remember ever seeing Nelson’s Dockyard and Falmouth Harbour with so many impressive yachts but I know why they are here; there is nowhere in the world quite like Antigua and the ’600 is a real celebration of all that the Caribbean has to offer. The sailing is just fantastic; constant trade winds, warm water and air temperature in the high 20′s provides brilliant sailing, but this is a tough race. The course has a lot of corners and there is a lot of activity for the crews. Looking at the fleet, there are going to be some great duels going on, it is going to be a very competitive race.”
For the first time, a Volvo Open 70 will be competing in the RORC Caribbean 600. Some might suggest that the canting keel carbon fibre flyer could have been designed for this course. Ernesto Cortina’s Gran Jotiti has a highly talented Spanish crew and could well be a contender for line honours and an overall win.
IRC Zero has 16 entries and may well be the class to watch for the overall winner. George David’s Rambler 100 is the trophy holder and George David’s all-star crew will not be giving it up without a fight.
With a combined water line length that would soar 500ft above the Eiffel Tower, there are some truly amazing yachts in IRC Zero. The 214′ ketch Hetairos is an impressive sight. The crew of 36 have been out practicing all this week and on board there are enough sails to cover a full size football pitch. Sojana is expected to have a Superyacht duel with 124′ Pernini Navi, P2, owned by businessman and philanthropist, Gerhard Andlinger. Sojana was on mark laying duty today. The only laid mark of the course is the North Sails mark, off Barbuda. No doubt the crew, will be using the exercise to practice the first 45 miles of racing.
In the Spirit of Tradition class Adela will line up against Windrose. This will be the first time these magnificent yachts have raced against each other offshore, however Adela did get the better of Windrose in The Superyacht Challenge inshore regatta. A close battle with these two powerful yachts fully off the leash is a mouth-watering prospect. Past RORC Commodore, Andrew McIrvine and a team of 11 RORC members including current Commodore, Mike Greville, have chartered the 145ft Windrose.
The multihull record for the RORC Caribbean 600 has not been beaten since the inaugural race in 2009. The 63′ Trimaran, Paradox, skippered by Olivier Vigoureux says the six crew on board are out to ‘beat the current record’. The American, French and British crew members have raced in the Figaro Race, Transat Jacques Vabres, America’s Cup and Mini Transat.
Anders Nordquist’s Swan 90, Nefertiti, has an international crew including Rolex Middle Sea Race winner, Christian Ripard from Malta. They should have a close battle with Wendy Schmidt’s Swan 80, Selene, and Irish entry, RP78, Whisper.
There are a huge variety of yachts racing in IRC One, including Hound, skippered by Hound from Maine USA. The 60′ classic will be competing in the Caribbean 600 for the first time with a family crew of avid racers. Hound has competed in the last 8 Newport-Bermuda races, winning her class twice.
Ondeck’s 40.7 Spirit of Venus is chartered to the Royal Armoured Corp Offshore Racing Team. The majority of the 11 strong crew are part of the Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank Regiment which returned from Afghanistan last spring.
Lt Col Paul Macro RTR: “Soldiers have to work together as a team, under time pressure, when cold, wet and tired, in difficult and even dangerous conditions. The adventurous team spirit required by a successful offshore racing crew is the same as that required by the crew of a tank or any other armoured vehicle.”
There are four Class40s competing. Close duels are expected right through the fleet, but a hard fought and close encounter is expected in this class. Trade wind sailing provides perfect conditions for Class40s, with long reaches and downwind legs, these pocket rockets are capable of surfing at speeds of up to 25 knots. Class40s from America, Austria, France and Great Britain are taking on the 600 mile Caribbean odyssey; Tim Fetch’s Icarus Racing, Christophe Coatnoan’s Partouche, Andreas Hanakamp’s Vaquita and Peter Harding’s 40 Degrees, co-skippered by Hannah Jenner. The Class40s will be level-racing under their own rules. First to finish will claim the Concise Trophy; a full barrel of English Harbour rum.
IRC Two includes the smallest yacht in the fleet, Bernie Evan-Wong’s Mumm 36, High Tension. Antiguan dentist, Bernie has competed in all four RORC Caribbean 600 races, however last year, High Tension did not finish the race.
“It is definitely a case of unfinished business,” said Bernie. “We have actually used our downfall to modify the rig, so we have made something good out of the incident. Like many Antiguans, I am amazed how this race has developed since 2009, I have been sailing in the Caribbean for over 50 years and what has been really missing is a well-run, exciting offshore race. The RORC Caribbean 600 has provided that and made my dreams come true.”
Unequalled in the Caribbean, Nelson’s Dockyard in English Harbour Antigua is a hallowed place for sailors young and old. The remarkable streets and celebrated Georgian buildings chronicle over 300 years of maritime history.
The dockyard is a unique setting, which commands admiration and this January, a fitting yachting regatta will take place in these esteemed surroundings.A dazzling array of the world’s most prestigious sailing yachts will attend The Superyacht Challenge Antigua.
A rare occasion to celebrate sailing, for a truly impressive guest list, which is now fully committed to the event.
Adela –181’ Twin Masted Schooner incorporating every conceivable modern yacht system with a graceful and classic profile both on deck and throughout a sumptuous interior. A predecessor of the J-class America’s Cup, combining exceptional performance with the charm and elegance of a golden era.
Drumfire — 80’ Bermudan Sloop, which won the 2011 Superyacht Cup Palma. A classic design with exceptional performance both inshore and offshore. The smallest yacht at the regatta can punch well above its weight. Superb craftsmanship throughout with flush decks and the latest in sail control systems, offer exceptional sail-handling ability.
Marama — 100’ Ketch with a unique personality, starting life as an abandoned project before being transformed into a distinctive yacht of functional rather than fashionable design. The interior has the feel of a modern penthouse, the deck and rig lay out are honed for speed. A truly individual endeavour.
Marie – 180’ Ketch nominated for the 2011 Robb Report ‘Best of the Best’ custom megayachts, combining classic aesthetics and contemporary design. The hull and exterior styling is reminiscent of the Golden Age of Yachting, yet offering all the spacious comforts and amenities of a 21st century yacht, a real downwind flyer.
Rebecca – 140’ Ketch the largest ketch to be built at Pendennis to date and without doubt one of the finest looking, modern sailing yachts in the world. Stylish, eye-catching with power and grace under sail with a light and elegant interior including a sole made from antique Heart Pine salvaged from a mill built in 1711.
Sojana — 115’ Ketch holder of the Round Antigua Record and the Lord Nelson Trophy, the magnificent yacht is as luxurious cruising as it is speedy on the racecourse. Below decks, there is a wealth of dark mahogany paneling, with gold-plated fittings and lavish fabrics. The latest in hi-tech sails, push-button winches and sleek lines have made Sojana a highly successful racing yacht of unquestionable pedigree.
This Is Us – 141’ Twin Masted Schooner, a glorious creation with low freeboard and dramatic overhangs, designed to offer an exhilarating ride. Full of power and beauty, this head-turning yacht is a truly modern classic with a sumptuous interior. However, carbon spars and rigging deliver exceptional sailing performance. A contemporary yacht of immense character intended to deliver awe-inspiring Caribbean adventures.
Timoneer – 147’ Ketch offering complete comfort for ocean cruising. A classic profile with balanced overhangs and a sweet sheer. The beautifully designed award-winning interior boasts a wealth of hand-polished cherry wood, contributing to a relaxed and traditional atmosphere. An exceptional conception, offering passion, creativity and craftsmanship designed for remote seafaring adventures.
Virago – 100’ Sloop winner of the 2011 St. Barths Bucket Regatta. Built by Nautor’s Swan, as a high performance racer cruiser, Virago competes at grand prix sailing events the world over. The undoubtedly luxurious design is complimented by sophisticated engineering to provide an extraordinary power to weight ratio. Given the fine fayre of warm trade winds with an accompanying seas state, the yacht is capable of speeds in excess of 20 knots. In the right conditions, probably the fastest yacht at the regatta.
Windrose – 152’ Schooner made headlines around the world after breaking the Transatlantic crossing record twice. With low freeboards, dashing sheer and long sweet overhangs, Windrose is a favourite among classic connoisseurs. However, her traditional appearance belies hidden technological advancements. This magnificent schooner captures the spirit of the early 20th century’s Golden Age of Sail, whilst sacrificing little in the way of speed, sail handling and luxury.
A significant number of highly prestigious yachts have strongly expressed their interest to take up the invitation to compete including; Elena, Hyperion, Nefertiti, P2 and Thalima.
The Superyacht Challenge Antigua will strive to deliver an exceedingly enjoyable occasion for all of the participants. Promoting fair sailing, good companionship and life-long memories.
In time-honoured tradition, the victor will simply receive a keg of rum and the kind-hearted admiration from an astonishing selection of yacht owners and their crew.