J Class back at St Barth’s

After two years of absence, the J Class fleet will race this year’s Saint Barth’s Bucket.

18 March 2022


The Saint Barth’s Bucket superyacht regatta will bring 30 boats to Saint Barthélemy from 18 to 20 March.

The J Class fleet will return for the first time since 2019, taking centre stage with two key yachts coming back to compete for the first time since 2017.

The Bucket will be the first major regatta for the Ranger’s new American owner, sailing with a hand-picked team that is rich in America’s Cup experience under helm Ed Baird, tactician John Kostecki, navigator Jules Salter and strategist Jordi Calafat. Ed Baird is keen for his first J Class program.

“For a number of us, this is the first J Class yacht we have sailed,” says Baird.

“We are just looking to make sure we can get round the course in reasonable shape. We really do not know at all how we will stack up against the other boats. The boat has been refitted and remeasured and has a different handicap now so we will just have to see.”


Jim and Kirsty Clark’s well-sailed Hanuman, which won the 2017 Bucket regatta from a record fleet of six J Class yachts, are also back. Kenny Read will be the skipper and tactician for Hanuman during the race.

“It is just amazing to be here,” he says.

“The first thing is what an amazing job this island has done. The last time we were here the island was decimated after the hurricane. I think everyone here, owners, sailors, friends have a smile on their face. They are happy to be here, and we don’t have to ruin it by going out when it is blowing too hard. At the same time, we are all here to race.”

Both returnees will face a stiff challenge from the benchmark program of recent years, such as Velsheda, who has continued to race wherever safe and possible while the class activity ebbed slightly in recent years.

Velsheda was the last J Class to race at the most recent Saint Barth’s Bucket in 2019, while three J Class yachts raced in 2018. Her owner and crew enjoy the stiff conditions expected.

“We like the Bucket and the racing we do here,” says Tom Dodson, Velsheda’s tactician.

“It’s nice to get some reaching sails out and for our navigator Campbell [Field] to be challenged, we like the mix of races here and the conditions. We like the breeze even if the rating becomes a bit hurtful as it gets windier, so we need to get good starts and get away.”

Dobson will be supported this season by British Olympian and match racer Andy Beadsworth.

The fleet is expected to herald an upturn in class racing activity this season. On 17 March, the three J Class yachts will contest two windward-leeward races on their own. Next, they’ll join the 30 strong fleet of superyachts for three days of round the island or 25-mile buoy races.

The Saint Barth’s Bucket Race Director Peter Craig enthused, “Across the whole island it means a lot to have the Bucket back,” says Peter Craig, Saint Barth’s Bucket Race Director.

“This island does quite well from tourism but regardless, it adds another dimension, it is a focal point. They are tickled to have us back.”

The exact choice and composition of the courses is yet to be decided based on wind conditions, with particular consideration for tradewinds and choppy seas that appeared at preliminary warm up Caribbean regattas.

“This year will be challenging in terms of conditions,” says Craig.

“We have seen three straight weeks of marginal top end conditions, 25-knots with big sea states. But we are hoping it abates a bit. We should be good to get the windward leeward races in, under the lee of the island on Thursday.”

Saint Barth’s is scored throughout for the Js under the J Class’ own handicap rule.



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