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March 25, 2011

The Greatest Spectacle in Sailing?

Drumbeg, a Dubois/Vitters 140 enters the harbor at Gustavia, giving a graphic depiction of the size of Bucket boats. By the way, those aren’t small boats in the background. For example, the big ketch in the upper left is the 154-ft Mari-Cha III, which like a lot of big yachts, just showed up to be part of the scene.

©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Several skippers who have been running mega sailing yachts for years tell us that the St. Barth Bucket has arguably become the greatest spectacle in sailing. The semi-serious racing event for sailing yachts over 100 feet attracted the maximum 40 entries and had to turn away many others. In addition, a number of 100-ft plus sailing yachts are sprinkled around the outer anchorage just to be on hand for the sailing and social festivities. As we said in Wednesday’s ‘Lectronic, it looks like a red light district, what with all the masts over 150 feet required to show red lights.

Many of the Bucket entries are push-button mega cruising yachts. But not Hanuman, the 138-ft J Class yacht owned by Silicon Valley’s Jim Clark. After practice sails, she was teeming with crew from the deck to the masthead to the shore. Unloading sails required the use of the topping lift, an electric winch, and 10 burly guys. Fortunately, they only had to take about 20 of them off the boat.

©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC
It sort of looks like an Islamic call to prayers, but it’s actually the crew of the 179-ft Holland/Vitters Marie repairing a torn chute. Marie’s owners are Texans who like to party big, so they brought along the ‘Texas Air Force’, which consists of four fighters from World War II — a P-51, a B-25, a P-40, and a FG1D. Instead of bombing opposing boats, they’ll be putting on an air show every afternoon. The planes hadn’t been flown so far since World War II.

©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

You can’t run boats without sailors, so the docks are crawling with world-class helmsmen and crew. And where you get lots of virile young men, you get lots of attractive young women, don’t you? Add a little alcohol and dancing in the tropical nights, and you can only imagine the social scene.

Lots of Southern California sailors will remember Marina del Rey-based Reggie Cole, who used to run the SC 70 Kathmandu. He’s been running other big yachts around the world for years now. Why the owner of the boat he’s running now wanted to hire a goat for three hours at a cost of $500 — it had something to do with the boat’s Viking dance number on stage — is beyond us. But leave it to Don Antonio des Mortes, former captain of Latitude’s Ocean 71, to come up with one on short notice.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC
Because he’s an artist and circumnavigator, David Wegman likes to put on a mini Bucket for kids and others. The little yacht he’s holding has a hull made of — what else? — French bread.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Of course, there are lots of non-world class sailors, such as ourselves, drifting about, and even we get invited onto nice yachts. For example, today we’ll be sailing with Mill Valley’s Patrick Adams on the Swan 100 Varsovie. We may be sailing on other boats for Saturday and Sunday’s races, you never know.

Oh, those tropical St. Barth nights! Playing the squeeze box at Entre Deux is Bruno Greaux, who gave up a great port captain gig in order to be able to sail more. Remy, one of the great guys in the port captain’s office is playing guitar. It’s the ubiquitous Wegman in back playing a bass he made out of a cello he found in a dumpster. Forget the movie stars and models, these are the people you want to know.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"The Bucket has become even bigger than Christmas," the Harbormaster and Port Captain Ernest Brin tells us. "The island has a normal population of 8,500, but 2,000 more come for the Bucket. But it’s a beautiful scene."

Think adventure isn’t the biggest aphrodisiac? Try telling that to the smart, sweet and buff Tori, with her new friend Bridger, who unfortunately is about to ship out to run a furniture factory in – we’re not making this up – Ho Chi Minh City.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

We know some of you out there are going to grouse, "What a buch of crap, I’d never be able to do anything like that!" Not true at all. Just get on the phone and charter a bareboat out of St. Martin for next year’s Bucket. And next year you’ll find yourself smack dab in the middle of the biggest sailing extravaganza you’ve ever seen. Just check out this entry list:

Les Elegantes des Mers Division
Elena of London, 180-ft Herreshoff schooner
Marie, 179-ft Hoek ketch
Meteor, 169-ft Royal Huisman schooner
Christopher, 150-ft Holland ketch
Windrose, 152-ft Holland Jachtbouw schooner
Rebecca, 140-ft Frers ketch
This Is Us, 141-ft Hoek schooner
Gloria, 126-ft Beeldsnijder schooner
Gaia, 101-ft Spirit sloop
Bequia, 90-ft Stephens yawl
White Wings, 76-ft White sloop

Les Grandes Dames des Mers Division
Maltese Falcon, 289-ft Custom Dynarig
Ethereal, 190-ft Holland ketch
Twizzle, 188-ft Dubois ketch
Parsifal III, 177-ft Perini Navi ketch
Klosters, 154-ft Perini Navi ketch
Antara, 152-ft Perini Navi ketch
Helios II, 148-ft Holland sloop
Drumbeg, 140-ft Dubois sloop
William Tai, 133-ft Hood ketch
Genevieve, 125-ft Dubois sloop
Axia, 123-ft S&S ketch
Blue Too, 112-ft Holland ketch
Paraiso, 105-ft Fontaine sloop

Les Gazelles des Mers Division
Mirabella V, 246-ft Holland sloop
Kokomo, 192-ft Dubois sloop
Hyperion, 150-ft Frers sloop
Lady B, 141-ft Dubois sloop
Hanuman, 138-ft J Class sloop
Ranger, 135-ft J Class sloop
P2, 125-ft Perini Navi sloop
Moonbird, 121-ft Dubois sloop
Sojana, 115-ft Farr ketch
Song of the Sea, 113-ft Swan sloop
Marama, 102-ft Preslec ketch
Leopard, 100-ft Farr sloop
Varsovie, 100-ft Swan sloop
Virago, 100-ft Swan sloop
Zefiro, 100-ft Farr sloop
Symmetry, 96-ft Frers sloop

Racing Forecast

The Island YC’s Doublehanded Lightship gets going tomorrow, and although the weatherman is calling for rain, he’s also calling for 15 to 25 knots of breeze from the southwest! That should make for a romper-stomper of a race, especially with the 5.5-ft swing and the trip to the Light Bucket coinciding with the meat of the morning’s ebb.

It’s not too late to sign up for the SSS Corinthian Race.

© 2011 Erik Simonson

Next weekend sees the second installment of the ’11 Singlehanded Sailing Society schedule with the Corinthian Race on April 2. BAMA’s signature Doublehanded Farallones is up for its 32nd contest on April 9, and registration is already up. If you need something to get you thinking about race strategy, check out the GPS replay of last year’s race.

May the Honeymoon Never End

Of all the idyllic islands in the South Pacific, none are more famous as honeymoon destinations than Tahiti and her sister islands. In fact, the starry-eyed newlyweds who jet in from all over the world to celebrate comprise a huge percentage of French Polynesia’s annual tourism tally.

When we met Sue and Bill in La Cruz last month it was obvious that they were lovers, but we didn’t realize they’d soon be getting officially hitched.

©2011 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

On rare occasions, honeymooners also arrive by sailboat — such as Bill Teasdale and Sue Dalton of the Bellevue, WA-based Jeanneau 49 DS Dilligaf. They just tied the knot last week in Seattle after a 10-year ‘courtship’ and will soon set sail from Banderas Bay for the sun-kissed landfalls of French Polynesia on an open-ended itinerary. So, contrary to the norm, this is one honeymoon that will begin with a 3,000-mile ocean crossing.

But that will only be the beginning. Because they’re both avid scuba divers, they plan to take their time diving and exploring the less-traveled corners of the Pacific. And you might say that doing so will bring them full circle, as they met in 2001 during a scuba trip at remote Truk Lagoon. We offer our congrats and wish them the best of luck. And may the honeymoon never end!

"I really want a cat," writes San Jose’sTerry Lampthan. "Not a catamaran, because I’m a monohull person.