St Barths Bucket Regatta – History, Description and Recent Results

St Barths Bucket Regatta overview

Since 1995 the island of St Barts (a.k.a. St Barths) has hosted the exclusive St Barths Bucket sailing regatta.  The regatta is typically staged in mid-March, over the course of four days. St Barts is an ideal home for the event as the exciting topography, off-shore islands and reefs, and steady trade winds create options for several challenging courses. Sailing enthusiasts can watch the race from many different vantage points on the island. At night sail boat enthusiasts can walk down to the quai in the village of Gustavia and view the classic boats that compete in the regatta.

Save the date: The 2022 St Barths Bucket Regatta will be staged from March 17-20.

What makes the St Barths Bucket Regatta so unique is that since its inception it has always been an invitation only event,  for classic sailing boats that exceed 100′ at length at the waterline. Today the organizers of the regatta call this class of sailing boats “super sailing yachts”.

The Bucket regatta has always been about spirited yet gentlemanly competition – no money is at stake, and no advertising or sponsorships are involved. The only honor the participants are seeking is the chance to win the prized “Bucket Cup” itself. The primary reason for the popularity of the St Barts Bucket Regatta is that it is an intimate event involving the world’s most expensive sailing boats, where the emphasis is more upon competing for honor and fun than about winning cash prizes. The stated goal is to race cleanly, have fun, and  “win the party”. The job for the St Barts Bucket Race Committee is to convince the most competitive boat owners on the planet (demonstrated by the fact that they own these spectacular yachts in the first place) that having fun is more important than winning!!

History of the St Barts Bucket Regatta

The St Barths Bucket Regatta is a “by invitation only” regatta featuring cruising yachts whose length over all (LOA) is one hundred feet or more  (30.5 meters). From the outset it has been an event conceived and hosted purely for the pleasure and enjoyment of the owners of magnificent super sailing yachts. The origin of the name “Bucket” refers to the bucket of champagne that was offered to the first winner.

The first St. Barths Bucket regatta was held in March of 1995 with a fleet of 4 yachts; SARIYAH, the 131’ S & S ketch, Tom Taylor’s 108’ Ron Holland ketch, GLEAM, Nelson Doubleday’s 130’ Palmer Johnson ketch, MANDALAY and PARLAY, the Alden design 127’ Ketch.

Although the size of the yachts and the number of racing categories has grown over the years, the uncommercial spirit of the event has remained unchanged. In recent years, 40 or more super sailing yachts have gathered to compete for the coveted St Barths Bucket. There is no prize money, only the glory of winning.

The stewards of the St. Barts Bucket regatta are Netherlands-based yacht builders Royal Huisman and Vitters Shipyard, Italy-based builder Perini Navi as well as the US-based Rybovich Superyacht Marina and refit facility. There are also several longtime sponsors (“friends”) of the Bucket who contribute their support.

The regatta was held for 23 consecutive years up until March 2020 when the event was cancelled due to the difficulty of traveling during the covid pandemic. The event was also not held in March 2021 when the island of St Barts was temporarily closed to protect its residents from the spread of the virus. The St Barths Bucket regatta is scheduled to resume in 2022, running from March 17-20.

St Barths Bucket Regatta Rules

  • The Bucket Regatta is a pursuit race, with multiple categories. Smaller and slower yachts may start first
  • The first yacht to cross the finish line in any category is the winner of that category
  •  In starting, all yachts will have to rely on sail power only. The one exception is when power is needed to steer clear of other yachts or obstacles
  • If any yachts start ahead of time, 5 minutes will simply be added to their elapsed time because recalls are not allowed
  • Those who maneuver and handle their yachts outside of the congenial spirit that defines the regatta, meaning they are being too competitive and aggressive, will be excluded from the race

The Social Side of the St Barths Bucket Regatta – Things to do

This four-day invitational regatta features both world class racing and festive post-race social activities in Gustavia’s waterfront race village. Anyone visiting St Barts during the regatta can walk down to the quai, in front of the Captainerie building, and see these spectacular boats up close. Each night after the races end there are activities and music in the race village. You’ll find all of Gustavia is energized by the event during St Barths Bucket Regatta week, especially at night. Here is the social event calendar for the St Barths Bucket regatta.

How does the St Barths Bucket Regatta organize the racing categories and classes?

The St Barth Bucket regatta organizers divide the participating boats into categories based on how similarly they perform in the water. Each yacht is rated and handicapped by a team of race experts based on a displacement, draft, sail area, etc. There are many factors that they take into account when determining class breaks including, Displacement/Length Ratio (DLR), Sail Area/Displacement Ratios, race series ratings, furling jibs when tacking, etc.

The goal of the organizers of the St Barths Bucket regatta is to group yachts with relatively similar sailing characteristics together – that is to have yachts which perform in a similar fashion in a variety of different conditions compete in the same class. The 2019 regatta had six racing classes. The 2020 regatta planned to offer a ‘Corinthian Spirit (Les Voiles Blanche)’ class.

Where can I view the boats competing in St Barths Bucket Regatta?

Watching the boats sail around St Barts is a popular pastime during St Barths Bucket regatta week. During the day, sailing fans gather at hillside villas or along roads that parallel the coast in Gustavia, Point Milou, Colombier, Toiny and Flamands, ideal view points for spying the passing fleet. Fort Carl in Gustavia is another popular vantage point.

Any one who is interested in taking in a few minutes of the racing can pull over at any number of spots to see the boats competing as they circle the island. Those of you who want a more up close and personal view of the boats competing in the race can contact your WIMCO Villas concierge or hotel concierge desk and arrange to charter a boat to motor alongside the boats as they sail around the island.

Where can I stay during the St Barths Bucket regatta?

The popularity of the regatta, and its winter break / mid-March timing make St Barths Bucket regatta week the second biggest tourism week of the year after New Year’s Eve week. Those of you wanting to vacation on St Barts during this week can choose from renting a villa or reserving one or more rooms at a hotel. Given how popular the event is, you are advised to make your reservations as early as possible to insure that you get the villa or hotel rooms that best suit your specific needs.

Interested in vacationing in St Barts during the regatta?  Browse St. Barths Villas  or contact WIMCO Villas at 401-849-8012 or info@wimco.com.

Note:  WIMCO Villas is the official villa rental and concierge services partner of the St Barths Bucket Regatta.

Results from 2019 St Barths Bucket regatta

Winner  CLASS A: Les Gazelles des Mers – Hetairos

Winner CLASS B: Les Mademoiselles del Mers – Sojana

Winner CLASS C: Les Elegantes des Mers – Aquarius

Winner CLASS D: Les Femmes des Mers – Blue Too

Winner CLASS E: Les Grandes Dames des Mers – Rose Hearty

Winner CLASS F: Les Voiles Blanche – Ohana

More results and commentary from recent St Barths Bucket regattas:

2017 regatta news: https://www.wimco.com/vacation-travel-reviews-and-blog.aspx?target=/2017-st-barths-bucket-regatta/

2014 regatta news: https://www.wimco.com/vacation-travel-reviews-and-blog.aspx?target=/dates-announced-for-2014-st-barth-bucket/

2011 regatta news:  https://www.wimco.com/vacation-travel-reviews-and-blog.aspx?target=/the-2011-st-barts-bucket-regatta/

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