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2009 Newport Bucket Regatta: Recaps


2009 Newport Bucket Regatta Recap

The Newport Bucket Regatta hits its stride!

2009 will be remembered as the year the Newport Bucket Regatta truly hit its stride. With a record entry list of 19 yachts, the weekend developed from a horrendous forecast for a 30 knot nor'easter Saturday and zero wind Sunday, into two crystalline New England sailing days.  Without a doubt, Neptune smiled upon us.  The competition was close, the parties and entertainment were the best ever and non-adult behavior was rampant.  The perfect Bucket Cocktail.

The fleet was the best ever, including the new 125' Performance  Perini Navi Sloop, P2, and the new J-Class Sloop, HANUMAN, by the Royal Huisman Shipyard; racing against J-Class RANGER, in the first engagement between these two J-Class Designs since the 1938 Americas Cup on the very same course off Newport.  The fleet was also joined by the 147' DuBois design, TIMONEER, by Vitters Shipyard, 108' Ron Holland design, AVALON, Swan 100', VIRAGO, and MITSEEAH, the 156' Hybrid design sloop by Pendennis Shipyard, which cruises well under sail and powers at 24 knots!!

At the smaller end of the fleet, we had the Swan 68, CHIPPEWA which easily makes up for 40' in length with a well-honed Bucket attitude!  Likewise, the classic 66 foot 1958 12 Meter Yacht, EASTERNER, recently donated to the Shake-a-Leg Foundation, has been completely re-engineered by a team of naval architects to be sailed by a team of handicapped and able bodied sailors.  Paul Callahan, CEO of Shake-a-Leg, is the driving force behind EASTERNER and her campaign to sail in the 12 Meter Worlds this fall. The RC was thrilled to invite them to use the Bucket as their first tune up race.  EASTERNER's missing length was easily made up by their massive effort!

Friday night's Welcome Party at Newport Shipyard was launched with a round of Margaritas for all, then entertainment by a roving Mariachi Band.  Our Master of Ratings, Jim Teeters, was selected to officiate the smashing of the Shipyard Piñata loaded with candy, much to the children's delight!

From an opaque foggy morning with a desultory 4 - 5 knot breeze leaving the start line invisible even from the Committee Boat, 295' Huisman Schooner, ATHENA; day one of the Newport Bucket Regatta developed rapidly into a sparkling summer day with a 19 knot Sou'wester and ideal sailing conditions.

TIMONEER, the 147' DuBois/Vitters Ketch dominated the day.  Driven by a cool headed group of long toothed pros, she hit the angles and corners in perfect trim, to finish five minutes ahead of P2, in second. The J Class yacht HANUMAN, started a minute before J-Class RANGER, and in an extremely close contest, HANUMAN was able to maintain her lead.  However, RANGER shaved off 22 seconds, leaving HANUMAN in third place and RANGER 38 seconds behind, in fourth.                 

Saturday night's yacht open house was well attended by all the crews, with dinner and dancing to the Evan Goodrow Band following at the Shipyard and lasting far into the night.  This was also the night of the merry pranksters; a number dressed in stylish AVALON military flight suits, others in W-Class Superhero garb and a number of additional night stalkers, who collectively decorated the fleet with yellow Caution tape.  Next, they were caught installing a head on CHIPPEWA's foredeck, then joined by that crew as well, they inserted the sacred Bucket Bomb into the head and installed the entire rig on the foredeck of RANGER.  Adult behavior indeed!

On Sunday, the Bucket fleet was again blessed with a perfect summer day, with a 15 knot sea breeze that developed just in time to provide another round of great racing.  The recently reconstructed 100' Alden design schooner, SUMMERWIND was among the early starters and maintained her lead ahead of the 93' TAZA MAS, fully around the course to finish 7 minutes ahead, winning the day's race with TAZA MAS in second place.  Both owners are long term yachtsmen and friends, hailing from the Lone Star State of Texas!  SEA DIAMOND, the lovely 1958 Rhodes Motorsailer recently refit in Newport, started fully two hours ahead of the fleet and sailed to third place on the 22 mile course, nine minutes later.  In sum, this was a great showcase of the oldest and in many cases the most elegant of the proper yachts in the Bucket Regatta!

The competition among Les Gazelles des Mers (racing division) was a lot hotter and closer, to be sure!  The Alden 72' Sloop, FEARLESS, slipped away from the fleet to win the division by three minutes over Perini Navi P2, in second.  Two minutes later, the W Class 76, WILD HORSES finished third, with SELENE, the Swan 80 in fourth, by just two seconds.  Overall, the Bucket Rating System again proved its mettle, with 13 of 18 finishes in just over 13 minutes!

In their second engagement on the race course, the new Huisman J-Class Sloop, HANUMAN was able to best J-Class RANGER by a minute and 50 seconds.  Without a doubt, these two magnificent yachts are destined to a great future within the re-emerging J-Class fleet!

In another Bucket first, the 156' Pendennis Shipyard Hybrid Sloop, MITSEAAH, was challenged on day one in keeping up with the racing yachts on the upwind leg.  Respecting the fact that the Bucket is also here to showcase the best attributes of each yacht while cultivating good racing, MITSEEAH was invited to start the race under full power with 7000 horsepower thundering, cross the line at 20+ knots, then execute a high speed 360 degree turn and roar off to the windward mark, where she re-converted to a sailing yacht, shut down the power and got into the race!  Her start was truly a sight to behold!  Her left-field handicap worked well too; she crossed the finish line in fifth place!

"Tsunami seas battered the Jamestown & Newport shores Sunday"

The awards were presented over cocktails and light fare at Ochre Court , one of Newport 's less than humble, shorefront "summer cottages", which created an ideal setting for the event.

In the overall results, the Perini Navi, P2 was the winner of the 2009 Newport Bucket Regatta, followed by the 108' Ron Holland Ketch, AVALON, and TIMONEER, the 147' Dubois/Vitters Shipyard Ketch in Third.

Among les Gazelles des Mers, P2 won her class over J-Class HANUMAN in second, and the W-Class 76' Sloop FLYING HORSES, in Third.  The close competition among the Gazelles is underscored by the fact that with a total of just over three minutes elapsed time difference between the J-Class yachts in two races, HANUMAN was second in class and RANGER ended up 6th!

"The Victorious P2 Crew"

Competition among Les Grandes Dammes des Mers was not so close, but an elegant display of proper yachting.  SUMMERWIND's strong performance Sunday allowed her to win the Class, with TAZA MAS in second.  By points, TIMONEER and AVALON tied for third but the award went to TIMONEER, recognizing her Saturday's win.

The Superyacht Racing Protocol, which outlines the COLREGS based safety rules for superyachts on the race course, had its third trial at the Newport Bucket.  With rule clarifications and modifications after the St. Barths Bucket and the Superyacht Regatta in Palma , the current iteration of the Protocol worked well to define the ever shifting rights of way between yachts.  The use of VHF Channel #17 as a bridge to bridge communication tool for the "Safety Tactician" aboard each yacht to clarify rights of way was again well-used and effective.  We have actually begun to see the traditional yacht racing protest flags and "one finger salutes", replaced by a congenial call on the VHF to clarify intentions.  Most civilized!

In fact, the on-course behavior between yachts was so congenial that it was hard to find a likely candidate for the Vitters Seamanship/Sportsmanship Award, which is typically presented to the yacht that gives up the most distance in the interest of safety.  The winner of the Vitters Award was TAZA MAS, in recognition of her participation in the first Newport Bucket and several since.  Not being a race boat, she may also own rights to the most hours sailed in the Regatta!  In fact, one year we actually had to deliver the finish line to the yacht!!  But she's always sailed as a proper yacht, in the full spirit of fun!

The coveted "Newport Bone", properly mounted on a varnished teak plaque for last place, was awarded this year to the Classic 12 Meter Sloop, EASTERNER, which was forced to retire due to gear failure.  We wanted Paul Callahan and the Shake-a-Leg crew to know they'll always be welcome in the Bucket.

"Paul Callahan accepts the Newport Bone for the Shake a Leg Foundation"

The Holland Jachtbouw -- Yacht Report All Star Crew Award was handily won by SEA DIAMOND first, because they had a ball bringing their Hawaiian roots to the surface, and second because the image of their skipper, Craig Babb in a coconut two piece with a grass skirt, was simply too bizarre to comprehend.

"The AVALON crew, Masters of Skulduggery"

Lastly, the Skullduggery Cravat, the cherished Admiralty Noose, as usual brought forward remarkable efforts.  From superheroes to dockside shenanigans, the efforts were in (marginal) good taste and created a lot of fun.  All were eclipsed once again however, by the AVALONIANS, who showed up for the regatta in AVALON military flight suits, complete with dog tags and cast their fun spell over the fleet.  The contest was still a bit close when the waiter at Castle Hill showed up in the same regalia to serve the Race Committee a few bottles of fine champagne and another flight suit with dog tags and name tag for the RC Chairman's wife!  Well, suffice it to say that we can still be bought!!!