On day two of racing, the St. Barths Bucket Regatta race committee had the four superyacht classes round buoys and rocks. The northern waters of St. Barths are rock strewn, and they serve as perfect rounding marks for a leeward/windward course...unless you hit one, as Sea Hawk did. (Evidently she only grounded with her centerboards and is not in need of serious repair.)
Racing in Paradise
The race began with a downwind leg heading north. The wind blew a steady 20 knots with higher gusts. The seas, while not a big as day one, still added to the fun.
Within minutes of the start, Meteor blew a kite and we all knew this was going to be a sail-stressing day.
The leg east was a reach and this was some of the fastest sailing of the day. Round a few rocks, then head downwind. The day could not have been more beautiful, with rugged rocks, mottled clouds, and a blue water backdrop.
But as teh wind and seas picked up, the rip and tear syndrome came back. Kite after kite was blown in the the final legs, coming down one after another like felled trees in a storm. One count had eight yachts in need of the sail loft's services before racing the next day.
Sail Loft Triage
After such a windy sail ripping day, it was up to the North Sail loft in Gustavia harbor to get it sorted out by the next morning. Some dozen ripped and tattered sails were delivered by the yacht captains after the race, with instructions to have them repaired and ready by 8am the next day. Most were spinnakers, but there were also a few mains and genoas and one mizzen staysail.
Keep in mind, the loft is a popup one, maybe 30 feet long by 20 feet wide. It is a very simple building with some lights and a floor, temporarily perched at the water's edge. It is nothing like a real sail loft. But inside, North Sails service manager Eric Wakefield led a team in what can only be described as a MASH-like setting, feverishly taping, cutting and sewing to fix the acres of ripped sails. It was going to be a long night.
Super yacht owners are used to getting what they need, when they need it. Eric told me that some of these repair jobs would normally "take a few weeks," but he only had a few hours. So there was no time to stop for a real meal: the team was wolfing down food, amidst a floor of ripped nylon.
Read 2014 St. Barths Bucket Regatta: Windy Start
More information, including official results, can be found at the St. Barths Bucket Regatta website.
Photo by the owner of Twizzle