"I've been in over a dozen Buckets in St Barths I think," the owner of 52m schooner Meteor told me as the yacht pulled back into Gustavia harbour after day one of the regatta. "They are great because the racing is not a joke, the location is amazing and the fun factor is high. You combine all this and that is all you need for an event that keeps you coming back." Day one saw Meteor join the other 34 yachts in a counter-clockwise circumnavigation of the island. Conditions were good: medium winds, clear skies and calm seas made for few surprises. Meteor completed the 20.9nm medium course with the other yachts in her class (Les Grandes Dames) and the Mademoiselles, while Les Les Elegantes took the long course of 25.2nm.

While conditions were straightforward, the day wasn't without its dramas. Near the beginning of the race, a close encounter with Thalia resulted in a challenge being issued successfully to the 48.5m Vitters ketch. "The tricky thing with a regatta like this is making sure everyone understands the rules and that they are enforced," the owner said. A part from this initial encounter, the day was well-sailed, with Meteor coming a respectable fifth out of nine in her class. "There were a few parts which weren't ideal," he said. "We fetched out into the ocean and then had to come back, which probably wasn't wonderful and we lost some time. But we picked up time again with the breeze coming off the back side of the island. And we got a big bite of wind coming back around the island so we crossed the finish line fully loaded." For the owner, Meteor is made for racing and sailing. "She showed that she sails exactly as she should. This is a real sailor's boat," he stressed. "I personally wouldn't ever build a boat bigger than Meteor because I think she is just about as big as you can build and keep a mechanical helm. Once you have a hydraulic helm it doesn't feel the same anymore."

Of the new rating system, he thinks it is a positive change. "What you want is total fairness in a race like this," he said. "You want every single boat to have a chance to win. It’s not always going to be 100 per cent fair because these boats are all so different. Some boats favour upwind, others favour reaching - Meteor for example reaches better than it goes upwind. As long as it is as fair as possible."

What he didn't like about the last handicapping system was that for him it was extremely subjective. "They changed people's rating around too much," he explained. "I own a race boat as well and it is called Numbers because we wanted to build the boat very quantitatively and sail the boat very quantitatively. This new system is very fair, numbers-based and transparent about why ratings get assigned." The overall winner for Les Grandes Dames was the 55.9m Perini Navi ketch Rosehearty, who beat out fellow Perini Zenji by 13 minutes. Meanwhile Bequia, Marie and the aptly named Winwin won their respective classes. "The whole purpose of the Bucket is to get people out on boats, let them have some fun and to give them a chance to race their boats," Meteor's owner concluded. "This isn't the most serious racing in the world but this is the most fun."

A full interview with the owner of Meteor will appear in Issue 17 of The Superyacht Owner. To subscribe and ensure that you receive your copy, click here.

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