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Posted by on Mar 30, 2014 in Boating Lifestyle, Picture This, US |

2014 St. Barths Bucket Regatta: Windy Start

Gustavia has been invaded by an armada of the largest yachts in the world.

The 2014 St. Barths Bucket regatta is off to a roaring start, with 38 super yachts here this year. We are competing in one of the most lavish yacht races in the world, for the chance to take home a “bucket” trophy.  There are four classes: Les Gazelles, Les Elegantes, Les Mademoiselles, and Les Grandes Dames. I’m sailing on Twizzle, a Royal Huisman ketch in the Elegantes class that is 57 meters long (188 feet). That may sound enormous, and it is, but the smallest yacht here (Wavelength, one of Les Mademoiselles) is still over 27 meters long (almost 90 feet).

View from Twizzle's deck of St. Barths Bucket fleet.

Twizzle’s cockpit area is large enough for a crowd.

Most of the yachts have crews of twenty or more. So there are hundreds of the world’s best sailors from every nautical nation, all sporting their yacht’s logo.

Day one was very windy with a steady 22 knots blowing across the spacious decks. It was a round the island day with each of the four classes having a specific course. Basically it was a beat south, then a reach east to a rounding buoy, then a reach west and back to the finish.

Because of the size and manoeuvrability of these yachts, the race committee likes to start them individually. Winners are determined using a super yachting handicapping formula.

The sight of these giants bashing their way thru six foot swells is truly remarkable, especially on a gear busting day. Several yachts may not be able to sail on day two.

Sunset from Gustavia, St. Barths

Sunset from Gustavia Harbor brought us closer to the after party boat hop.

The after party on opening night featured a “yacht hop.” Those lucky enough to obtain admitting wrist bands were able to tour, eat and drink aboard the super yachts tied up along the quay. The party went on for hours amid the luminescent glow of the yachts, a beacon to the utmost in sailing luxury. I was able to board five yachts and found each and every one more awesome than the one before.

Day two promises a little less wind. And with the yachts and crews now more seasoned to the course, they are sure to be as competitive as money can buy.

More information, including official results, can be found at the St. Barths Bucket Regatta website.

Photos by the owner of Twizzle