Perseverance was the key to victory in four classes – Gazelles, Elegantes, Mademoiselles, Grande Dames – on Day 3 of the St. Barths Bucket 2015, hosted by the popular Caribbean yacht charter destination – St. Barth. Sailing the “wrong way around” course meant the 35 participating superyachts launched their massive spinnakers at the start and took a clockwise tour of the island, testing sailing skills with a particularly lengthy beat up the backside. And though the superyachts, for safety’s sake, sail by rules that keep them at least 40 metres apart at all times, the competition was as close as anyone could wish for.
Winning the day in Gazelles was the 44.9-metre sloop Visione, which also took overall regatta honors to win the coveted “Bucket,” which was held high with victor’s pride by owner Hasso Plattner at the final awards ceremony.
“When P2 was winning, we knew we had to be second,” said Visione’s tactician Jens Christiansen, explaining that in the pursuit-style format used here, Visione had started 18 minutes after the 38.1-metre Perini Navi charter yacht P2 and 15 minutes after the 33.4-metre Vitters Shipyard sloop Inoui, which had been second and third, respectively, behind Visione going into today. “Things got tense when we broke a code sail sheet on the way to the first mark. We got another sheet on and thought we had it under control when bang, it broke again. We really had it highly loaded; we didn’t lose boats but we lost 400-500 metres.” Thankfully, things went uphill after that. “We caught them (P2) quite quickly and passed them on the other side of the island, beating them by quite a lot in the end. The 10-11 knot winds suited us well. We were sailing very fast on the long beat, going farther out because we are that much faster than anybody else and staying clear of other boats in other classes so as not to get entangled in them tacking on each other.”
Visione’s first Bucket was in 2004, and the yacht has competed in half a dozen or so Buckets since. Built in 2003, well before many others here, she is still the boat to beat on principle. “We are the fastest, and we always start last. With the old rating, however, we always had to sail more than a perfect race to be able to win. We’ve been close by finishing second overall once or twice, but never winning. Now with the new rating system (captured within the new ORCsy rule), we can win.”
P2 took a sixth in the race to fall behind Visione and runner-up Inoui (which finished second today), in the overall standings.
The 30.2-metre sloop Cape Arrow, chartered by Pier Luigi Loro Piana, turned in all second-place finishes to top the Mademoiselles.
“We did two very good races on the first two days and managed to stay in front of boats that were faster upwind than we were,” said Cape Arrow’s tactician Thomaso Chieffi, veteran of four America’s Cup campaigns and a Volvo Ocean Race winner (as tactician aboard ABN Amro). “Today, we weren’t hoping to win the series; we were looking to maintain our second, but with the little change of rating that occurred overnight to the leading boat (Bequia, which won both race one and race two and took on five more minutes of handicap for race three, in which she finished sixth) and the fact that today was more our race, it made us eventually score a second and win the series overall. We are very pleased with the result. It came a little bit out of the blue, but we feel somehow that we deserve it. For peace of mind we checked the results, and we would have won the series regardless of the rating change.”
The 46.4-metre Royal Huisman ketch Elfje started 21 minutes behind the 44.6-metre schooner Adela and edged her out at the finish by eight seconds to win in Elegantes today. The two boats ended up sharing overall class victory in the interest of an amicable resolution to a safety rule debate, while close contender superyacht Marie, the 54.6-metre Vitters Shipyard ketch that had been tied with Adela and Elfje going into today, finished sixth for a third overall.
” This was one of the more interesting dilemmas I have come across in my 22 years of race management, ” said Race Chairman Peter Craig. “In short, the new ORCsy rule rounds to 30 seconds for starts in the interest of safe racing – a requirement for superyacht racing. When the first 2 races were rescored because of an inadvertent measurement issue with one certificate, the rounding factor was the difference in determining the class winner. With the two yachts overlapped at the finish of the final deciding race, the suggestion for dual class winners by Elfje and Adela is an example of good sportsmanship that is in line with the spirit of the Bucket. The two owners and crews are to be commended.”
As for the ORCsy rule that is in its infancy and was being closely analyzed here, Elfje’s tactician Mike Sanderson said, “It’s going to be brilliant. It’s going to take superyacht racing from being pure entertainment to something where we can compete properly and know how to change things each year to perform better.”
Taking overall victory in Grand Dames, the 37.6 metre charter yacht Axia was spot-on with its timing at today’s start and went on to turn in an equally brilliant performance over the course of the day to beat out yesterday’s leader, the 55.9-metre Perini Navi charter yacht Rosehearty.
“Today was by definition, truly a medium-wind day,” said tactician Robbie Doyle. “If it had been a light-wind course, we would have owed Rosehearty more time, and it would have been really tough for us. They would have had another five or six minutes, which is what we beat them by.” Doyle was explaining the race committee’s choice each day, under the new rule, to officially designate the wind conditions as light, medium or high, which in turn effects starting times and sometimes order of starts within classes. “When the medium-wind flag went up, we knew it was going to be a good race for us, especially because it was on the bottom edge of medium, which favors us. Still, it was a tough day, Rosehearty sailed a good race. We caught her at the top mark by setting ourselves up on a lay line that was right on, knowing that if they tacked right in front of us they may not make it. They decided to continue on to do a conservative approach to the lay line, and we just got our bow through them and were able to squeeze them up and hurt them, forcing them to sail right.”
In addition to the ORCsy rule being used here for the first time, the 2015 Bucket Regatta this year featured new stewards in ownership: Perini Navi, Royal Huisman, Vitters Shipyard and Rybovich.