Happy to Help, Happy to Be Here
The island of St Barths is still very much in rebuilding mode in the aftermath of the devastation wreaked last year by two successive brutal hurricanes. That the history of the St Barths Bucket regatta continues unbroken with this year's regatta welcoming 26 superyachts including three J Class yachts, Velsheda, Topaz and Svea is a testament to the drive and hard work of many local individuals and organisations. The financial income the regatta generates for island businesses is believed to run to tens of millions of Euros, but never has that income been more welcome as the island fights to recover.
Peter Craig, long time Principal Race Officer for 'The Bucket' welcomes the J Class owners and crews back again this year. The Js will have two windward-leeward races Thursday and class starts for Friday, Saturday and Sunday's island passage races.
Peter Craig recalls "We all saw the photos and video news and were shocked to see the unprecedented damage. And so to see them get the island back today six months from when Irma hit is fantastic. We at The Bucket have developed great relationships here over the years, so we were in touch in the immediate aftermath and very pleased to say that the Bucket stewards allowed us to jump straight in and help where we could. We stepped in with a donation, which we would normally have made after this year's regatta and helped where we could. For example, they did not have enough chain saws to clear the roads and they were out of tarpaulins, so we were able to help just a bit. It may be just a small way but it was meaningful and when it was most needed."
There was a point, of course, where it was uncertain that there would be a regatta at all this year.
This year there is a sale of the regatta posters which cost €80 each and the proceeds are going to good causes.
"We are hoping to have another five, maybe six or eight thousand euros which we can donate after the regatta." Craig adds.
"The thing about The Bucket is it is about non profit, nothing about it is about making money. The single most important goal is to strive for the enjoyment of the owners and their guests. This is the payback to the yacht owners."
"We need to tip our hat to the Bucket Stewards – the owners of this event. In the immediate aftermath of the storms, the question was asked if there would be a regatta – at that stage there was no knowledge of how things would look in two months let alone six months. The Stewards decided we would go forward and announce we would run the regatta anyway, even if that meant for only five or six boats. Fortunately we have 26 boats which is down a little. But that is what we expected. There are a number of boats that did not come across the Atlantic this year and some have not come down from the States."
But it is known that many owners and crews are here to support the island as much as to come and enjoy their racing.
Many of the boat captains have said on behalf of their owners, "listen this island has been great for us. We know the best way we can support the island is to be at the Bucket in March."
And the return of the showcase J Class to the regatta is most welcome.
"The stewards made the decision a few years ago to offer racing under the RRS with class starts and a day of windward-leewards for the J Class. That comes with some additional cost and effort to the regatta but we are happy to do it."