This year sees some changes that will be interesting to see put into play.
Probably most important for the entrants, the handicap system has undergone a serious evolution. At the start of 2015, the Superyacht Racing Association (SYRA) and the Offshore Racing Congress (ORC) announced the creation of a new superyacht handicapping rule – the ORC Superyacht Rule (ORCsy).
This new rule has been taken up by the Bucket Regattas (as well as YCCS and the Superyacht Cup Palma), who in recent years have been using the International Superyacht Rule (ISYR) overseen by Jim Teeters.
The ORCsy involves a different application process - one that requires yacht entrants provide more information than in the past, including but not limited to deck and sail plans, sail measurements and hull geometry. While most yachts will have these details on file, there is no doubt that this is already a more involved process.
A common theme at last year's event (indeed almost all regattas) was frustrations with the rating system. Arguably this will always be the case when you bring together such wildly unique vessels in a competitive realm no matter what system is used, but hopefully the increased transparency of the new system will lead to less disputes. Time will tell.
This year is also the first event since the stewardship the Bucket Regattas was passed on to the longstanding sponsors Perini Navi, Royal Huisman, Rybovich and Vitters Shipyard. At the close of 2014, Hank Halstead told SuperyachtNews that the stewardship was a necessity that evolved from the success of the Bucket Regattas. It was simply impossible to finance the growth that the Buckets warranted anymore. These new custodians have promised to change little if anything about the way the events are run and have sworn that the “Corinthian spirit” will remain very much intact. I am interested to see whether under this new stewardship the St Barths Bucket does in fact stay true to its origins and principals; the uncommercial, social and relaxed event for owners that it has always been.
In a conversation with some owners the other day, one of them commented that all too often in this industry, the owner ends up feeling like the prey to the predatory sales and marketing agendas of various companies and individuals. He and his wife (motoryacht owners) attend the St Barths Bucket every year because they enjoy the atmosphere, camaraderie, lack of agenda and social nature of the event. Let’s hope that St Barth remains a safe haven.
I look forward to seeing new and old friendly faces there next week.
To see the list of participating yachts for the St Barths Bucket 2015, click here. The Superyacht Owner will be bringing you news and interviews from the event next week.