27 March 2023 – Baltic Yachts
In a hotly-contested St Barths Bucket, regatta sailed in big Caribbean breezes, the fight for class honours between the evergreen Baltic 147 Visione and the newly upgraded Baltic 108 WinWin went down to the wire in a last race showdown in which the winner took all.
Both yachts went into the last of the three-race series with a 1st and 2nd apiece, but at the denouement it was the Javier Jaudenes-designed WinWin which came out on top, sailing a clean, fault-free third race to keep the hi-speed Visione at bay and take Les Gazelles Class with a 2,1,1 scoreline.
With the owner at the helm, Irish Olympic Finn sailor Tim Goodbody orchestrating tactics and Vendee Globe veteran Jonny Malbon navigating, WinWin’s well-drilled crew were keen to see how effective her new Doyle Structured Luff technology would be in the boisterous Caribbean trade winds which hit the high 20-knot mark regularly throughout the regatta.
Structural changes in the bow area to take the additional load of WinWin’s new Doyle headsail, which drives the luff to weather to dramatically reduce luff sag, had caused a hiatus in the yacht’s highly successful race programme, but she returned with real intent at St Barths this year.
Visione, incredibly in her 21st season since her launch in 2002, showed remarkable downwind speed in the high teens in race one and eventually overtook the Swan 115 Jasi before catching WinWin right on the line. The signs were looking ominous for anyone trying to unseat this iconic yacht which continues to impress on the world’s race tracks.
In the second pursuit-style race, WinWin’s lightening downwind speed in the strong 28-knot breeze and her new-found upwind ability was enough to keep Visione at bay taking the winner’s gun to set up an exciting final race.
With all to play for, the St Barths Bucket fleet was sent on what is affectionately known as ‘The Wiggly Course’, race officer Peter Craig keeping the 25 superyachts in the lee of the island of St Barths to shelter them from the persistently high winds and big sea running on the windward side. Normally a clockwise circumnavigation of the island would deliver the finale, but sailing The Wiggly Course in reverse proved equally challenging.
In a tense pursuit race between Visione, WinWin and Jasi, it was WinWin who showed the competition a clean pair of heels getting home comfortably ahead of Visione. Skipper Will Glenn, said: “Visione is an iconic boat with an incredible history, a great crew and a super competitive owner so we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We just wanted to sail clean and put into play what we have been practicing as a team, and it went well! No mistakes and that was our mantra today – keep it simple!”
Elsewhere in the Bucket fleet Baltic 117 Perseverance, launched in 2021, voted Sailing Yacht of the Year in 2022 and competing in her first big regatta, fought hard for an impressive 3rd place in the seven-boat L’Esprit 1 Class.
The St Barths Bucket was won this year by the Ted Fontaine-designed Nakupenda, built by Danish Yachts, whose 4,1,1 scoreline was impressive in a particularly competitive class. And no report on this year’s event should be without a mention of the absolutely superb Columbia, a steel-hulled replica of a 1920’s Newfoundland Grand Banks fishing schooner which was a sight to behold. She scorched round the courses revelling in the big conditions to post a 1,1,1 scoreline in the L’Esprit 2 class.
There will be a chance to see WinWin and Perseverance in action later this summer when they attend the Baltic Yachts’ 50th Anniversary Rendezvous Regatta in Sardinia which runs from 14-17 September.
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