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Bucket About to Tip

Five J Class yachts wowed crowds in an exhibition race yesterday.

© St. Barth Bucket / Ingrid Abery

The 18th Annual St. Barth Bucket, three races for yachts from 100 to 289 feet, starts today in building winds. The fleet is down slightly from the previous two years, but it has a superstar five-boat class of J Class Yachts — 130 feet plus — racing by themselves. There hasn’t been such a gathering of the magnificent J Class boats since before World War II.

A sailor doesn’t even have to race on a boat to be excited by the Bucket. These are many of the greatest yachts in the world.

©2013 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The J Class fleet sailed an additional race, which was yesterday. Although the wind only blew 8 to 10 knots, the competition was very close until the end. Trailing for much of the 15-mile course, Jim Clark’s Hanuman "pulled a rabbitt out of a hat" by going far left, and took honors. Kenny Read, a veteran of several Volvo around the world races and many other championships, drove and was accompanied by "the Newport mafia." Jim and Kristy Clark’s special guest for the event was Richard Branson.

The biggest yacht in this year’s fleet is Maltese Falcon, famously built for Belvedere’s Tom Perkins. Although Tom no longer owns her, she still looks great. The next largest boats are the magnificent near 200-ft schooners Athos and Adela. We’re not sure if he’ll be driving, but there’s a fellow named Dennis Conner from the West Coast on Adela.

Bartians are big on the Bucket, and even kindergarteners are introduced to big boat sailing.

©2013 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Safety has always been a primary concern for the event organizers, as any collision would likely be a multi-million dollar incident. That being the case, the motto is constantly repeated: "Sail safely first, then fast, and win the party!" Très bien!

Organizers and island officials have also taken steps to preserve the health of everyone from the risk of ‘testosterone poisoning’ created by the presence of so many hard-core male sailors. As such, ‘TP’ filters have been erected around the bars to clear the air, and a special ‘TP’ hazmat team has been formed to clean up any "TP flooding."

The crowded anchorage off Gustavia, St. Barth. None of these boats are in the regatta, however. Participants to 175-ft are tied to the quay, while the boats too big for the harbor are anchored out.

©2013 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Speaking of parties, this is the island’s biggest week of the year, bigger than even New Year’s, so there will be no stopping the parties.

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It was exactly 30 years ago yesterday that ‘Her Magesty’ Laurel DeForest of the Olympia, WA-based Balfour 28 Robbie’s Wake popped the cork on a bottle of Champagne in front of a crowd of barefoot sailors, and thus declared that the first-ever Sea of Cortez Race Week had officially begun. 
Kurt Roll of San Diego recently flew to Auckland to join Dietmar Petutschnig and Suzanne DeBose of the Las Vegas-based Lagoon 440 Carinthia for another season of cruising.