Sunday, August 25, at the 2013 Newport Bucket Regatta dawned yet another perfect late summer day, bright and chilly with a light northwesterly. As forecast, the wind went flat in the late morning, but everyone must have been living right, because after a half hour postponement by the RC, the sea breeze filled in providing perfect sailing conditions. Both fleets sailed relatively short courses of 12.5 miles for the Grandes Dames and 16.5 for the Les Gazelles, which tested the yachts well on all points of sail.
Luxury yacht ALTAIR started first at 12:30 and with some serious tweaking she sailed upwind as she never had before. Sailing yacht ANGELS SHARE was the fastest and therefore last boat to start, 36 minutes later. Charter yacht BRISTOLIAN distinguished herself yet again, crossing the line only one second after her gun! ALTAIR finished her best upwind leg ever, by sailing so close to Narragansett Beach pier that as they approached the 15′ depth curve there was talk of stepping ashore for a round of hot dogs! This paid off, saved her two tacks in fetching the weather mark and made her the boat to beat to the finish.
The Gazelles had to sail a couple extra miles to weather in somewhat more challenging conditions as the breeze was lighter offshore. In the end, they had a good, close contest within the class, with ANGELS SHARE squeezing past superyacht MARIE to finish a minute and a half ahead, and charter yacht SEJAA finishing a minute and a half later.
The GRANDES DAMES finish was closer with BRISTOLIAN rapidly catching ALTAIR, and charter yacht METEOR with a cloud of sails, overtaking both at a good clip. ALTAIR chose the best position, once again out of the channel and this time out of the current, where she gained a 1.5 knot advantage to close on the finish more rapidly than the boats that were actually sailing faster through the water. She was so far out of the channel that Michael Nethersole, our esteemed “Voice of the Bucket” didn’t see her, and broadcast the finish line drama between the other two boats for several minutes before ALTAIR surged into view around the Castle Hill cliffs as the clear winner, with BRISTOLIAN 40 seconds behind and METEOR 32 seconds later in third.
The fleet tied up, cleaned up and had a toast or two at Newport Shipyard before heading off to the International Yacht Restoration School (IYRS) for the Awards Ceremony. IYRS Restoration Hall was an ideal location for the Awards. Surrounded by boatbuilding shops, tools, completed classics and projects ready to begin, it created a great atmosphere for the final Bucket get together.
Among Les Gazelles des Mers, ANGELS SHARE was the clear winner with two firsts, MARIE placed second and SEJAA third. Les Grandes Dames des Mers were dominated by BRISTOLIAN with first and second place finishes, ALTAIR placed second and charter yacht GEORGIA, third.
The overall winner of the 2013 Newport Bucket Regatta is BRISTOLIAN! Originally launched as charter yacht MARI-CHA over 20 years ago, this 90′ German Frers design still rocks! She was sailed to near perfection by a Corinthian crew who enjoyed every moment of the regatta to the fullest. She’s a Bucket winner indeed!
Alice Huisman presented the Wolter Huisman “Spirit of the Bucket Award”, for the yacht that best demonstrates the real values that this event was built upon; sailing our yachts to their absolute best potential with safety and seamanship at the forefront, wholesome competition and sportsmanship, with the goal of having fun far outweighing the need to win at all costs. In this regatta, ALTAIR won the award hands down as her owner remarked about the Saturday results, “I got third yesterday and that’s great. I won’t mention that there were only four boats!” Sunday he went out, sailed a perfect race and won for real!
MARIE was presented the Vitters Trophy for Seamanship and Sportsmanship on several counts. First, she rescued her mammoth spinnaker out of the water on Saturday in a well-coordinated fire drill without casualty. She also chose to overlook a valid protest in the interest of getting beyond it and just having fun. Lastly, her crew spoiled us all at the Fleet Open House, decorated in deep South Pacific Style, and treated the fleet to great hospitality!
The Committee was a bit stumped on who won the Chippewa Bomb because sadly, the Bucket seems to be running a bit low on skullduggery and non-adult behavior, which this Award is designed to celebrate. We were truly a bit nonplussed about this when someone mentioned that we should have been out and racing with the METEOR crowd. Although the yacht is run with precision, she’s also evidently fueled by nonstop riotous banter and rollicking jest. We celebrate that and are pleased to present them with the Bomb, entrusting them to autograph it in proper fashion as all previous recipients have done while in their custody.
In sum, this was a Bucket reminiscent of the old days in Nantucket, with a smallish fleet of the world’s largest yachts just out sailing together, driving their boats to peak efficiency on the race course and enjoying the company of great friends ashore. Newport Bucket 2013 easily passed the essential litmus test; the Race Committee had a Great Time!