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2008 Newport Bucket Regatta: Recaps


2008 Newport Bucket Regatta Recap

July 23, 2008 (Newport, RI)

The 6th Annual Newport Bucket Regatta was sailed on Rhode Island Sound, July 19-20 with a fleet of 12 magnificent yachts including two Perini Navi 148’ ketches, ANTARA and KLOSTERS, plus the 156’ Perini, PERSEUS.   The large end of the fleet was also joined by WHISPER, the 118’ Holland Jachtbouw Sloop, AVALON, 108’ Ron Holland Ketch, APACHE, 100’ Custom Ketch, CARMELLA, 92’ Custom Ketch by Vitter’s Shipyard and the elegant Classic Herreshoff 138’ Schooner, ELEONORA. 

The regatta weekend was launched with the Friday night skipper’s meeting and Welcome Party, followed by a barbeque, Reggae music and dancing in celebration of the Tenth Anniversary of the Newport Shipyard.

Saturday’s race was sailed in a perfect Newport sea breeze of 15 knots and sunny skies, with the Race Committee officiating from the bold shoreline at Castle Hill Inn.  CARMELLA started the 20 mile course first and never looked back, leading WHISPER by 6 minutes at the finish, followed by CHIPPEWA a minute and a half later in third, then SELENE 6 seconds later in fourth.

Saturday night, the fleet open house at the Shipyard kicked off the festivities, with great fare, libation and hospitality shared between the yachts.  Dinner and the “Bucket Bash” followed under the Marquee, with a fine meal served and dancing until late, to the tunes of Evan Goodrow.  Evan set the tone for a raucous evening that saw Charlie Dana on the dance floor until Midnight and one of our most highly esteemed yacht owners, practicing polished tango moves with a flower pot!

Sunday, the weather served up a true Bucket prank, dawning overcast but with a good breeze that promised another ideal race.  A half hour before the first start,
a  blanket of fog suddenly enveloped the fleet leaving all but zero visibility.  A postponement was set in place then, having watched the fog ebb and flow for nearly an hour the RC poled the fleet as to willingness to carry on with the starts.  In somewhat clearing conditions, all agreed to go racing.  Then exactly as the first yacht started, the fog set in with a vengeance, leaving the fleet to sail the 20 mile course in zero visibility and a blustery 18 knot breeze.

Five yachts (wisely) withdrew from racing shortly after their start, which left seven yachts to sail the entire course in an impressively thick New England fog.  These are eerie conditions in which each yacht becomes its own universe, surrounded by its own opaque curtain which removes all feedback from observing the competition.  All yachts were handled safely to the extreme, with professional licensed crews at the radar, in the navigation station and on deck as lookouts – but it certainly added a dimension to the competition.  Life was no easier for the Race Committee, which was required to position support boats at the finish to report finish times – from 200’ away on shore, the Committee only saw one of seven yachts cross the line!

At the end of the day, WHISPER found her way around the course fastest, to cross the line 52 seconds ahead of AVALON, with ELEONORA’s magnificent schooner rig looming out of the fog to cross the line three minutes later in third place.  Also at the end of the day, Mother Nature completed her prank on us all, when just ten minutes after the last finish, the fog lifted completely to provide crystal clear visibility!!

The Awards Celebration was held at the International Yacht Restoration School with champagne and trophies presented to the fleet, as follows:

CLASS AWARDS; Race 1 and 2 combined

Les Grandes Dames des Mers (Cruising Division)
1st:       AVALON      
2nd;      ELEONORA
3rd:       ANTARA

Les Gazelles des Mers (Racing Division)
1st:       WHISPER    
2nd:      CHIPPEWA
3rd:      SELENE


1st:       WHISPER
2nd:      CHIPPEWA
3rd:      ELEONORA


The All Star Crew Award; Presented by Holland Jachtbouw and The Yacht Report to the crew that maintains their yacht to the highest professional standards in a fun, cooperative atmosphere.  This year the All Star Crew Award was presented to Johnno Johnston and the crew of ANTARA.

The Skullduggery Cravat; A framed and perfectly tied Admiralty Noose has become one of the most highly contested Bucket Awards, presented, in short, to the yacht that best promulgates the spirit of fun – and non-adult behavior – among the fleet.  This year, skullduggery was at the core of the event, particularly in the wee hours of Sunday morning, which saw any number of clever pranks pulled off between the yachts.

The clear winner this year was the AVALON ROCK STARS, who appeared at the end of Saturday’s Race, fully dressed as Sonny & Cher, the Village People, many reggae stars in full dreadlocks & tattoo sleeves – and 9 year old Eloise Kenny as Elvis! All outfits were accompanied by inflatable electric guitars & microphones, with other accompaniments as well.   As a matter of fact, we now have, buried deep in the Bucket Safe Deposit Box, several photographs of Ron Holland, Dressed as Madonna!!!

The Newport Bomb, an actual WW Aerial Bomb, is an award over which the Race Committee has no control.  This award, originally presented to the RC a number of years ago by CHIPPEWA for their aBOMBinable rating, has been passed each year from yacht to yacht, as an acknowledgement of proper Bucket Behavior (?) and overall contribution to the event.  Each recipient adds further artwork to the Bomb, and then passes it along the following year.  This year the Bomb was presented by AVALON, to WHISPER in recognition of their magnificent party spirit and great sailing.  We have no doubt it will be back next year, further embellished. 

The Bucket Regattas began in August 1986 in Nantucket, MA, as a casual race to prove bragging rights among the owners & skippers of seven of the largest yachts in town – an afternoon sail, there and back again, with a galvanized bucket as the trophy.    The flavor of the first Bucket set the tone on which “Bucket” regattas have since been sailed. The primary focus is on safe sailing, proper seamanship and winning the party, rather than winning the race. Ratings are adjusted between races to favor the slower yachts, in an effort to bring them into the winner’s circle

The Bucket Regattas have grown to become one of the most prestigious sailing events in the world, attracting the largest yachts to compete on the race course.