Last year saw 31m Wally Indio taking home class and overall honours and winning both races in the Gazelles class, while 26.2m Chantier Naval built Sejaa won top honours in the Mademoiselles class, she was back this year to defend her title. Captain Pat Maflin who participated last year and was sailing Sejaa this time around, feels that “the main advantages to this event compared with a Grand Prix event [for example] is that you have close racing, but less risk of collision and it is an ideal event for large yacht owners who wish to bring the family along."
After 10 years of friendly races, executive director, Ian Craddock shared that this year was no different: “the superyachts are always a magnificent sight under sail and Newport provides the perfect sailors’ venue both on water and ashore. [It is] a fun reunion and [celebrates] the spirit of the Bucket”. Wes Cooper, captain of the largest entry this year, 54.8m Vitters Marie, tells us that he enjoys the regatta for the many advantages it brings “primarily, bringing the owners, guests and crew together on these yachts for a few days creates such a fun factor. Having these beautiful yachts all together in Newport to sail is a spectacle for everyone to enjoy, and then of course you’ve got fierce competition but in a light-hearted manner.”
With a calendar already saturated with boat shows, regattas, races and industry events, what is the attraction to attending the Newport Bucket over the multitude of other options? "These events are a lot of fun, everybody helps each other out, it’s a pretty relaxed atmosphere and there are a lot of great social events for everyone to participate in,” says Cooper. There is the added bonus for true sailors to get back to the basics, cut the engine, unfurl the sails and let the wind carry them away. Maflin certainly attends for the sailing: “I personally think the draw for me is being able to go racing as opposed to cruising," he says. "But it certainly attracts owners and sailing fanatics alike as the large yachts can compete on a level playing field.”
Having completed the Newport Bucket, both captains will be moving on to compete in further races this year. "We'll be headed to the Caribbean for the winter and compete in the Antigua Superyacht Challenge in January, the BVI Rendezvous, the St Barths Bucket in March and possibly the Classic in April,” shares Cooper, while Maflin shares that “Sejaa has her sights set on the Newport Bermuda Race next year as well as other regattas, especially in the Caribbean”. There may be other races and competitions for owners and captains to enter, but what keeps them returning to Newport is that “the owners and guests are able to enjoy an even higher level of sailing than they are normally used to, but in a controlled and safe environment” Cooper says. “They’re very well organised and supported by industry sponsors with a number of excellent post race events for owners, guests and crew”.
This year's race was no different, with plenty of excitement over the weekend. While Sejaa was unable to hold on to her title, she did place third in Les Gazelles des Mers class, with Marie coming in second and 39.6m Wally Yachts built Angels Share being crowned the clear winner. Les Grandes Dames des Mers winner 29.2m CNB build, Bristolian also proudly took home overall winner of the 2013 Newport Bucket, with Hank Halsted saying "she was sailed to near perfection by a Corinthian crew who enjoyed every moment of the regatta to the fullest". "It was a Bucket reminiscent of the old days of Nantucket," Halsted tells us. "It was with a smallish fleet of the world's largest yachts just out sailing together, driving their boats to peak efficiency on the race course and enjoying the company of great friends ashore."