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2014 Newport Bucket Regatta: Recaps


The Breeze From Nowhere – Bucket Luck Prevails!!

In anticipation of a very light day for race #3 of the 2014 Newport Bucket, the Race Committee selected conservative courses of 11 miles for the Grandes Dames and 13 for the Gazelles, with provision for shortening the course even farther if necessary, in the forecast dying breeze.  Little did they know, that the author and his wife the wind goddess, had conducted the Neptune Ritual at the height of the Bucket Bash, delivering two double shots of Mount Gay Rum to the end of Charlie Dock which, after a brief incantation, supplication and flat-out begging for wind, were cast upon the waters as an offering to the Big Guy with the Trident.  The racing started in a light nor'easter with most yachts popping spinnakers as they passed our lovely Committee Boat, 97' Classic Vicem, CHANSON. However, the rum worked its magic and the sea breeze was early upon us as the wind shifted southeast and built to a reliable 11-12 knots for the rest of the day. Hail Neptune!

The yacht Meteor racing in NewportAmong the Grandes Dames, it was METEOR's day in the sun.  With two second place finishes in the regatta she started on her numbers and sailed fast downwind to meet the sea breeze head-on, shortened to her upwind sails and completed the course fast and flawlessly to finish nearly 15 minutes before ALTAIR in 2nd, with KAWIL rapidly closing from astern, just 35 seconds later in 3rd. METEOR's win broke the three way tie for class honors, with METEOR in 1st, ALTAIR in 2nd and KAWIL 3rd among Les Grandes Dames.

The breeze held and filled in for the Gazelles and by the time P2 started, the sea breeze had even reached the starting area to give her an upwind start. Unfazed, the P2 crew trimmed for the conditions and romped around the course to claim the perfect "Hat Trick" with three wins for the Regatta.  The drama ran a bit deeper elsewhere among the Gazelles, led by WILD HORSES, who evidently did not fully absorb the plot for the day and proceeded to sail the shorter course for the Grandes Dames.  Evidently, TEMPUS FUGIT was so intent on catching the W Boat that they too, spent some time sprinting to the wrong mark, which allowed MARIE to finish with a comfortable second ahead of TEMPUS FUGIT, in third.  In the cumulative class results for the Gazelles, the clear winner was P2, with MARIE in 2nd and TEMPUS FUGIT in 3rd.

Class winners P2 and METEOR were presented with beautiful handcrafted Ship's Bell Clocks from Chelsea Clock.

The awards presentation was hosted by the International Yacht Restoration School.  It was a great final gathering of the owners and crews in what had been one of the smallest Bucket Regattas in years with only seven boats, but without a doubt among the best Buckets ever.  The consistent comment was that the smaller fleet gave rise to a greater level of intimacy between the yachts and a heightened sense of camaraderie from start to finish. 

Once the Class awards had been presented and the winners saluted by all, the Discretionary Awards were celebrated.  The Newport Chippewa Bomb, is presented to the yacht that best cultivates the fun and good times that this event is known for, with the best spin of left-field good humor.  This year it was looking pretty good for the crew of WILD HORSES, after they showed up at the Bucket Bash as the W Posse in full cowboy regalia, with vests, hats and six guns blazing.  However, Captain Wes and the MARIE crew had done their homework thoroughly and discovered that the Bash Band was going to be a full Beatles retinue.  When they showed up fully dressed as Sargent Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, in full uniform with gold braid and epilates, wigs and dark glasses, they launched the party to new heights.  Crew of MarieThis was a class act and a clear "Bomb" of a win.  We're a bit concerned however, because MARIE has a legendary supply of black powder for her myriad of cannons and we've left the bomb in their care. . .

The newly minted Golden Pineapple Award, for the best hospitality within the fleet and basically, the "Winner of the Party" was also a close contest.  We thought we had a clear winner in LADY VICTORIA, which put on a table beyond compare at Friday's Open House and entertained hundreds of guests with open epicurean southern hospitality.  However, our Committee Boat, the classic CHANSON owned by the Stidolph family and fully populated with three generations aboard, set a new standard not only for good times aboard (which never stopped), but for fully joining the fun of the event.  By Sunday, our hostess had taken over as the new Bucket Cannoneer!  We trust they will enjoy their gourmet dinner for six at the Clarke Cook House's Sky Bar, sponsored by David Ray and also with our compliments!

The Wolter Huisman "Spirit of the Bucket" award is presented at each event by Alice Huisman, to recognize the yacht that best exhibits our core values of sportsmanship, safe seamanship, best hospitality and overall contribution to the event.  It is this spirit that sets the Bucket Regattas apart from all other events.  This year, the Wolter Huisman Spirit of the Bucket Award was presented to Donald Tofias, owner of WILD HORSES, in recognition of the fact that over the past 18 years he has participated in over thirty Bucket events and in a number of regattas, he entered two boats!  Donald's contributions and support for the Buckets over many years are deeply appreciated.

The yacht P2The Vitters Seamanship trophy is presented to the yacht that demonstrates the best seamanship and sportsmanship in the interest of promoting safety on the race course.  It was an easy selection this year to recognize the yacht P2, for their many contributions to the sport of superyacht racing.  From the early days of racing their 50M Perini Navi cruising yacht, Mr. & Mrs. Andlinger and their team recognized the value of raising the bar on professional boat and sailhandling, and they have never stopped perfecting every move.  On the new P2, the team has been together and refined their skill set since launching, with Jonathan Kline and Mr. A attracting a force of industry leaders to perfect every move aboard.  Their contributions to superyacht safety and the consistent contributions from many of the crew to the SYRA safety committee are fully celebrated in presentation of this award.  Well done P2!

Well done also in winning the 2014 Newport Bucket Regatta with a perfect score of three firsts!  This time around, P2 did not miss a beat winning a place on the perpetual trophy and taking home a beautiful crystal bucket.  Second place overall was earned by the crew of METEOR after her great Sunday race and third place was well earned by KAWIL.  Well sailed all!!


Saturday's Report from Hank Halsted

Saturday at the Newport Bucket dawned with a distinct fall chill in the air, delivered by the persistent northerly flow that thankfully served up a good 15 knot nor’easter for the day.  The racing got underway promptly at noon on two relatively long courses, stretching from the start downwind to Narragansett Beach for the Gazelles and mid sound for Les Grandes Dammes, then a long upwind leg past the mansions to a turning mark just off Newport’s First Beach, a two mile fetch offshore then the long run home to Castle Hill.

WILD HORSES started the sequence with a high noon start and spinnaker set to launch her out of town.  ALTAIR followed two minutes later, slightly late but with a great set as well.  The other five yachts started well and without incident, launching hectares of spinnakers without drama.  Only one situation emerged when METEOR proved so anxious to get on the race course that she started 34 seconds early and thus received a five minute penalty for her finish time.  More on that later. . .

The downwind sail to the turning marks for each fleet was a great romp, well powered with a few elegant jibes in each class.  Takedowns were pretty polished in general as the fleet launched itself into the long upwind leg to the “Cliff Walk” turning mark which was set  close enough to the cliffs on Ocean Drive and to the beach itself, that the spectacle of the Newport Mansions was reversed.  This fleet of magnificent superyachts bouncing off the shoreline gave those in the mansions something to gawk at for a change!  The mark was an upwind rounding, so to reach a layline the yachts nearly had to sail through the surfers at Ruggles Avenue, then close enough to the beach for a close bikini check, before tacking to clear the mark. 

As usual, the fleet converged and the competition heated up on the run to “R2”, with P2 surfing along at 13.5 knots and passing all boats just before rounding to head for the finish.  ALTAIR managed to round a boatlength ahead of TEMPUS FUGIT, who then kicked up their windward heels, sailing high and fast to finish in second, seven minutes after P2 won for the second day in a row.  MARIE was closing fast from astern and finished a minute and a half later, followed by Wild Horses two minutes behind.  After 26 miles of racing, that was close competition indeed, among a class of well sailed yachts.

For the Grandes Dammes, the finishes weren’t that close but at the end of the day the contest between KAWILL and METEOR ended up with a slim, 18 second margin!  As to the actual finishes, ALTAIR sailed a near perfect race, banging the right corners at the right times with elegant sail handling to finish fully 12 minutes ahead of her class.  The next finisher was METEOR, seven minutes later, then KAWILL five minutes and 18 seconds after that.  However, with METEOR’s five minute penalty for starting early, her time was adjusted to leave only that slim margin.  So for the Grandes Dammes, KAWILL went from first to last and Altair from last to first, with METEOR holding a pair of duces.  Without a doubt, it will be all-in for Sunday’s racing.


At the Saturday Night "Bucket Bash"

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The crew of the yacht Wild HorsesFriday's Report from Hank Halsted

The 2014 Newport Bucket got off to a good start yesterday as our collective good luck prevailed over a dismally flat forecast to call in a reasonable 11-12 knot sou'easter. The fleet started on time at high noon to sail a 16 mile course around the buoys in Rhode Island Sound. Unfortunately, the good luck of the day wasn't distributed exactly evenly among the fleet, because for the full hour of the starting sequence, the breeze was light and spotty with ninety degree shifts!

95' S&S Sloop, ALTAIR, got off to a good start in about 6 knots of building breeze that rather swept her out of Narragansett Bay. On the other hand, the magnificent 170' Huisman Schooner METEOR, barely left the starting area with sails hanging and the 180' Vitters Ketch MARIE sort of didn't leave, in a flat calm. When it came time for the last starter, Perini Navi rocket P2, the wind Gods lined up and brought on the day's SE breeze for her to power up and sail out of town. Everyone on that boat must have been living right.

P2 went on to sail a flawless race, not leaving a second behind on the course. She sailed a perfect upwind leg to the mid-sound mark, tacked once for a perfect layline to the rounding mark off India Point, fetched custom mark "G", then set her double eagles for the run to Narragansett. Mrs. A drove the entire last leg to win the day, finishing fully 5 minutes ahead of KAWIL, the 112' S&S sloop.

Among "Les Gazelles", MARIE finally found her breeze and she too, sailed a great race to finish 7 minutes out of first place. TEMPUS FUGIT, the classic Rob Humphries 90' bright hulled sloop, followed 6 minutes later in Third with the W-70 WILD HORSES four minutes later in fourth.

Two yachts race to the finish in NewportThe competition was far closer between "Les Grandes Dammes", with KAWIL and METEOR in a neck and neck contest for first place for the entire last leg. After an elegant jibe set of their spinnaker, KAWIL caught and passed METEOR on the downwind run back to "R2", then they had a "winch issue" during their takedown which forced them to leeward during a well-managed recovery. This allowed METEOR to get seriously into gear, closing, closing and closing still, until at the finish only the Race Committee had the proper angle to see KAWIL cross just three seconds ahead to win the day! ALTAIR finished third in class, just behind Gazelle TEMPUS FUGIT.

The yacht Tempus Fugit racing in NewportIn sum, what was expected to be a dismal day of waiting for breeze, turned into a great day on the race course. Bucket luck prevailed!

The Open House Evening began with the prize giving for the day's event, under the marquis at Newport Shipyard. P2 and KAWILL were both honored by the fleet for races well sailed.

As to the Open House, it's remarkable how these events take on the flavor of the neighborhood. While the event in St. Barths was characterized by exuberant partying, wild dancing, martinis, chocolates, reggae and Caribbean celebration, this was New England. It was a great gathering of great friends on the world's greatest yachts with marvelous, meaningful conversation at every turn. But everyone was sort of. . . behaving.

TEMPUS FUGIT was filled to overflowing with admirers of her marvelous classic design, layout and craftsmanship while imbibing of well mixed "pain killers", a few "dark & stormys" and lovely h'ors d'eouvres. KAWILL had their welcome mat out with a great selection of savory tidbits, and then around on "Charlie Dock", it was simply littered with hundreds of pairs of shoes in front of MARIE, P2, our Committee Boat, Vicem motoryacht CHANSON, ALTAIR and motoryacht LADY VICTORIA under command of Bucket Director Tim Laughridge. MARIE entertained hundreds of admiring guests with great wine, drinks and gourmet spread of appetizers. It was astounding how that yacht makes huge crowds look small by virtue of her the number of entertaining spaces aboard from the aft cockpit, to the helm area(s), main cockpit, upper salon and bar, then the formal salon below. Farther down the dock, P2 was chocabloc full of admirers, overflowing to the dock where even there, P2 was entertaining the dock crowd with pitchers of spiced sangria.

Photograph of the dock party at the 2014 Newport Bucket Regatta Across the way, our Committee Boat offered great hospitality and Captain Laughridge and the owners of LADY VICTORIA may have set a new standard for Newport entertaining, serving 80 lobsters at stations and enjoying the evening with Bucket friends until 1AM! Meanwhile, TEMPUS FUGIT re-staged their party into one of the vacant tents on the quay, serving multiple pizzas, beer and soda to all who passed by for late evening conversation and snacks. This was a marvelous low-key Bucket gathering and dockside gam.

As to the Golden Pineapple Award for the "Winner of the Party", the Jury's out. Simply too much great hospitality to choose from!

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Photo of the crew of Marie celebrating victory!Hank Halsted's Blog Report #1

With the 2014 Newport Bucket Regatta just a week away, the Newport Shipyard anticipates the arrival of the most elegant Superyachts in New England this summer.  It is interesting to note that the 2014 Newport Bucket Fleet has the greatest concentration of Bucket top performers of any Bucket Regatta ever! 

Photograph of the yacht MeteorThe magnificent MARIE, 180' Classic Ketch by Vitters Shipyard, returns after winning the St Barths Bucket in March this year.  She will be challenged by METEOR, the 170' Classic Dykstra design Schooner by the Royal Huisman Shipyard, which won her Class in the 2010 Newport Bucket. Photograph of the yacht AltairThe Custom 96' S&S Sloop, ALTAIR, joins the fleet after winning her class in the 2014 St Barths Bucket and placing 2nd in last year's Newport bucket. The W-76 WILD HORSES re-joins the fleet to try to best her 2nd place class finish in the '12 Newport Bucket and we are thrilled to have P2 back in the Newport fleet.  She is a yacht with a handful of 2nd place finishes, which is always sailed to perfection and this could just be her event! We are also joined by the classic Rob Humphries design 90' Sloop, TEMPUS FUGIT, which sailed 3rd in Class in this year's Loro Piana Virgin Gorda Regatta.  Our seventh entry, 112' S&S Sloop, KAWILL (ex. GITANA, ex. ZINGARO) is the only yacht ever to win the Bucket twice (as Zingaro)!

In short, for this edition of the Newport Bucket Regatta we have a fleet of winning yachts with lots of talent in board.  Without a doubt this will be a great few days of yacht racing.

Since the very first Nantucket Bucket nearly 30 years ago, the Bucket Regattas have been focused on Corinthian sailing competition, seamanship, a large dose of creative left-field fun and most of all, hospitality and sharing the joy of this magnificent sport among the fleet.  Since our beginnings, the primary goal of every Bucket Regatta, far above bringing home the gold, has been the mandate to "Win the Party".

Photograph of the dock of The Newport ShipyardConsidering the plethora of awards that we've handed out over the years for all kinds of notable behaviors, we were a bit bashful last spring in St Barths when we introduced the Golden Pineapple Award for the yacht that truly Wins the Party.  As it turned out, we should have thought of it a quarter century ago!  The response was tremendous and the competition during the St Barths Open House hotly contested between a number of yachts; with AXIA showing up in full 007 Regalia with an operating casino in the main salon, SILENCIO fully wrapped in ribbons, with live Reggae and serving an alleged 40 varieties of Caribbean rum, and SEAHAWK pulsing disco with dancers in the tiniest sailor suits imaginable.  The competition for the Golden Pineapple was fierce and fun.  The award was an elegant dinner for the Owner and guests at the Hotel Isle de France, well won and appreciated by SEAHAWK.

For this year's Newport Bucket, our dear friend and unwavering Bucket supporter, David Ray, has offered to underwrite the Golden Pineapple Award with Dinner for six in the Sky Bar at the Clarke Cooke House.  The Bucket Committee will provide a liberal libation budget to accompany. Therefore  at Friday night's Bucket Fleet Open House, the Golden Pineapple is in play and the challenge is on.  The yacht that is judged to put forward the best hospitality for the fleet will be our guest at the Cooke House.  Thank you David!

We are all looking forward to three days of great racing off Newport. Having experienced a bit of a flat and rainy summer in New England, the law of averages is on our side for three perfect New England summer days.

Shoreside people can enjoy meeting and mingling for four special evenings. "The Bucket Bash" will have its trademark good food, well stocked bar, and lively dance floor. Sunday's awards celebration will be at the popular IYRS venue.

We look forward to seeing you here!

The full schedule and more are posted on the event web pages: