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Svea Shines At St Barths Bucket

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  • Svea Shines At St Barths Bucket

    ST. BARTHS (Mar. 15, 2018) – In glorious conditions, the 31st edition of the St. Barths Bucket Regatta started today with the elegant and historically significant J Class yachts Svea, Velsheda and Topaz completing two windward/leeward races in a planned four-day series for their class. The Js comprise one of six classes competing here in this beloved international event; the other five are showcasing 23 Superyachts the likes of which few can imagine without photographs or being personally in their presence, such is the spectacle of their pure size, stunning design and miraculous engineering. Those yachts are scheduled to race a coastal course tomorrow (as are the Js) to begin their own separate three-day series.

    Today, however, it was all about Svea stealing the show, albeit not with ease. The 47 metre sloop, built to original lines drawn in 1937 for a proposed America’s Cup contender that was never built, crossed the finish line first in both races and also won both races on corrected time, but as a testament to how challenging that was, Topaz (also a replica built to original drawings) and Velsheda (an original J) each also led at some point in the second race, and the three contenders finished that race within 10 seconds (9 corrected) of each other.

    “The trick today was keeping things simple and staying out of trouble,” said Svea’s Tactician Charlie Ogletree, USA’s 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist in Tornado class. “Since we haven’t had any practice here, we decided to sail our own race, concentrate on boat speed and not get caught up in other peoples’ games.”

    The oscillating 12-15 knots of wind saw Topaz and Velsheda trade turns taking second-place finishes, so with that they are tied on point score at 5 each, with Svea showing 2 points on her scorecard.

    Much goes in to the management of Superyacht racing, and as of this regatta, the J Class rating system has changed a bit. When previously the ratings were applied across three wind bands – light, medium and heavy air – now each yacht is rated with a TCF (time correction factor) for every single knot from seven to 20 knots.

    “Previously there were significant ‘cliffs’ on the curve for some yachts,” explained J Class Measurer Andrew Yates in a J Class report from yesterday, “occurring for them where the change from one wind band to another occurred. Now this should be smoothed out for everyone.”

    Svea received her daily prize this afternoon at the Capitainerie, which serves as regatta headquarters and where, later this evening, sailors will enjoy a Fleet Welcoming Party. Addressing the attendees of the Captains’ Briefing for tomorrow’s races, also held at the Capitainerie, was Ernest Brin, Director of the Port of Gustavia, who has seen many Buckets and has been working especially hard since the hurricanes to ready things for the sailors here. To applause of appreciation he said, “We’ve had our fun in September; You have YOUR fun this week!”

    The Bucket fleet will start near the Outer Harbor tomorrow and sail counter-clockwise around the island, wind and weather permitting. Saturday is traditionally reserved for the “Not so Wiggley” Course, around and through the islands to the northwest and west of St. Barths, while Sunday usually sees the fleet sail a clockwise course around the island.

    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella" Photo Gallery

  • #2
    Svea Remains Unbeaten At St Barth's Bucket

    Velsheda Finishing Error Grants Svea Their Fourth Win

    Velsheda appeared to have done all they needed to win around today's 25.43 nautical miles 'wiggly' J Class coastal race at the 2018 St Barths Bucket, but an error in their misreading of amendment to the instructions for the finish line robbed themselves of what would have been their first win of this 2018 St Barths Bucket Regatta. Their mistake handed the Race 4 victory to Svea, which looks set to win their first J Class Regatta together.

    As the wind faded and shifted during the later stages of the multi leg course off the north west of the island, Velsheda were slicker in their gear changing, read the shifts well and were able to extend away from the persistent Svea. Up the final beat to the finish line they stayed offshore and added to their margin on their pursuers. But relief and satisfaction on board Velsheda turned to disappointment when their error became apparent.

    "It is unfortunate but there you have it." Velsheda's tactician Tom Dodson admitted, "We feel like we sailed well and felt good about it, but we misread the amendment. But we have had a couple of beers and talked about it and in the end we are happy in how we sailed."

    "Svea are quicker, a lot faster than us downwind and so we really felt we did well to have them behind us." Dodson concludes.

    For Svea the fourth win from four starts here gives them an untenable lead in the three strong J Class fleet at the regatta. Tactician Charlie Ogletree paid a warm tribute to the way Velsheda sailed, admitting they should have won the race.

    "It is unfortunate and I feel bad for them. They beat us. They sailed a great race and I really would have preferred it if their win had stood, But we are happy with the first. They had a better start than us, we were second best off the line. It was a race track with not too many opportunities. It was a great race, really great, neck and neck all the way around and lots going on."

    The course took the J Class yachts from a downwind start in 12-14kts on a run to the north west to pass outside the rocky Grouper islets, reaching to Roche Table and then on a long upwind to the most westerly turning mark by the Ile Fregate. Velsheda lead Svea here by one minute and six seconds. But almost immediately, Svea came back at them on the run. After a straight bear away set they sailed a profitable heading breeze inshore and took a chunk out of Velsheda's lead.

    It was down by the Roche le Bouf that the breeze went slightly more fluky, creating a transition zone as they emerged from the disturbed lee affect of the island. Velsheda were able to extend away again here, getting back on to their headsail smarter. And on the last upwind from the Ile Fourchue, Velsheda stayed offshore while their rivals tacked in closer to the Gustavia shore and appeared to lose out a little. By the finish line, Velsheda were more than two minutes clear of their rivals.

    "We made some nice moves and our crew work was great again." Velsheda's Dodson reports, "But really we can't match them, especially downwind. So we have some work to do to find some speed. The key thing is that the newer, lighter boats accelerate quicker. We all drop to about 7.5kts in the tack but they accelerate quicker than us. So that will affect our strategy if we have to minimise our tacks."

    Svea's strategist Kenny Read confirms that the intensity of the racing is as tight as ever. "Sure we would like there to be a couple more boats here this regatta, but the intensity is there. And everyone is getting better all the time. It such a blast. This is a really great group on Svea having great fun. These guys have made some strong strides and Tom steers the boat really well. They are already becoming very polished."

    Svea go into the final day, expected to be a second round the island race, with a lead of six points over Topaz which score second today. Velsheda are now third overall, one point behind Topaz.

    Race 4

    1 Svea 3hrs 3mins 35secs, 2 Topaz 3hrs 8mins 19 seconds. DNF Velsheda

    Overall after 4 races

    1 Svea 4pts, 2 Topaz 10pts, 3 Velsheda 11pts


    Unbeaten Svea Win Their First Round the Island Race at St Barths Bucket

    Svea bounced back from one small error to retain their unbeaten record in the three boat J Class fleet at the first regatta of the season, the St Barth's Bucket. It was the first ever round the island style coastal race for the Svea crew which is lead by their tactician, 2004 Olympic silver medallist Charlie Ogletree with Kenny Read sailing as strategist.

    Though Velsheda sailed impeccably in the 12-17 kts SE'ly breeze and lead all the way around the scenic 23 nautical miles counter-clockwise circumnavigation of the island of St Barths, Svea was close enough at the finish line to save their handicap allowance and win by a mere 17 seconds.

    Key to Velsheda's early lead was the timing they chose to tack in to the island after the start. They chose to hang out early on during the short 20 minute beat to the corner, timing their tack in towards the island so that they could make the double gain of being inshore boat and getting the accelerated, lifting breeze at the corner. That was enough to allow them to break free of Svea and Topaz and build a small lead as they reached and then ran downwind along the outside, windward side of the island.

    Svea shed some time when they lost the tack of their spinnaker on the second hoist, letting Velsheda away slightly, but thereafter they showed good downwind pace and closed down the famous J Class 'original' which won this race last year from 2017's fleet of six boats.

    After the mid-race cloud cleared for the final beat back up to the finish, the breeze picked up nicely to 16-17kts. With clear skies Velsheda and Svea stayed right and made use of a nice right shift, lifting on starboard and both stepping slightly further clear of Topaz which had sailed a good race, always in touch with the two yachts in front. The straightforward course offered little in the way of tactical passing options on the downwinds especially, and it was very much a boatspeed test for the trimmers and helms.

    "We had a good race, even if we proved ourselves a little short on practice when the tack came off. We could adjust our strategy a little at that time but that cost us a bit of time. That was a clear case of lack of practice. We could not gybe until it was sorted." Recalled Svea's tactician Ogletree, "But we really just focused on our boatspeed, staying close enough to Velsheda. Tom did a great job steering the boat all the way around the course, it needed a high concentration level and he stuck to it."

    Adding their first coastal race win as a crew to yesterday's two windward-leeward race wins Svea, her name meaning 'Swede' are in clear charge of the popular Caribbean regatta at its midway stage, four points ahead of Velsheda which has now sailed 2,3,2 from the first three races.

    Velsheda's tactician Tom Dodson admitted they could not really see what more they could have done in order to open enough time on Svea. " I feel like we sailed really well. It was a good day but we cannot really deal with Svea, we are just racing her boat for boat and so we are happy to have beaten them across the line really. We had a plan and stuck to it and that seemed to work for us. We could have been a click closer to the line at the gun but we had our strategy to the corner just right and popped out ahead. We wanted to get inshore to the first headland to get to the lift, the accelerated breeze and the flatter water. That is what we thought and it worked." Dodson recalled.

    "Our boat is going well and Ronald steered really nicely and the trimmers were great. Svea got within about three boat lengths down the run and there was nothing we could do about that. We got away a little on the final beat as the breeze picked up. I feel we are sailing the boat as well as we can." Dodson adds "And what is nice is that Ronald will go from here and cruise the boat like he always has."

    Once more the 2016 launched Topaz were in the mix early but faded slightly towards the end of the race, crossing third. Topaz crew boss Tim Kröger concluded: "We sailed well. Make no mistake here we still think of ourselves as the new kids on the block in this class. We are still learning day by day. Velsheda have been at this for a decade. But we are loving it. We have a great group here and we are enjoying learning together. There is a great atmosphere on board and we know how lucky we are to be doing this, sailing on this boat in this class. Everyone comes to the boat in the morning with a smile on their face."

    "We are still lacking in a bit of upwind speed but are working on it. It is all moving on, we are working here with a retrieval system on the spinnakers like Svea have and that saves some seconds here and there but that is where we are. "

    2018 St Barths Bucket, Day 2 Round the Island Race.

    1 Svea 2h 26m 17s, 2 Velsheda 2h 26m 34s, 3 Topaz 2h 28m 40s

    Overall after three races

    1 Svea 3pts 2 Velsheda 7pts 3 Topaz 8pts
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella" Photo Gallery


    • #3
      4 Out Of 5 For Svea For Bucket Wish List

      One year ago when the J Class fleet was at it hammer and tongs, racing their first regatta of a historic season, the newly launched Svea was in Europe still completing first sea trials.
      Today they secured their first regatta victory together when they won the J Class at the popular Caribbean seasonal raiser, the St Barths Bucket.

      Showing benefits from a winter of work rebalancing and optimising, as well as ever-improving crew work and cohesion, Svea won four of the event's five races and were only denied a clean sweep by the wily, benchmark crew on Velsheda who won today. They seized the lead from Svea just over half way around the 20 nautical miles clockwise circuit around the island of St Barths and never gave it up.

      Four wins and today's second place gives Svea a winning margin of six points over Velsheda and seven on third placed Topaz.
      But while that cushion may look moderately comfortable, Velsheda's crew may fly out from the idyllic Caribbean island tonight reflecting that but for losing one race by 17 seconds and misreading the finish instructions Saturday - which cancelled out a likely win - they might have triumphed. Topaz finished their third St Barths Bucket regatta having made notable strides forward.

      The Svea crew's success is hard won and deserved. They have almost made something of a virtue of triumphing against adversity.
      After launching last year, it became apparent that the new J – which was built to an adapted original design by Tore Holm to have a centreboard – suffered from lee helm. That was an ongoing niggle last season.

      Just three races in in Bermuda, a furling swivel gave way. The crew only just saved the rig, but their America's Cup J Class Regatta was over. Immediately another race against time ensued, battling to be ready for the J Class World Championship in Newport, RI.

      And even here in St Barths they started on the back foot. Their long planned pre-regatta week of training was stymied because the swell was too big to land the shipping containers with all their race sails and hardware. All in all, that made winning today extra sweet for the Svea crew.
      "We are so excited to win. It is incredible for all of us." smiled Svea's delighted project manager and tactician Charlie Ogletree, "And we are so thankful to Tom (the owner) for what he has done for us and he has done an incredible job driving this week. This kind of racing can be difficult, it is long and requires periods of excellent concentration and he has done an excellent job. We are happy today to see him having this success."

      The winning Svea team includes a core afterguard of ex Stars & Stripes alumni including navigator Peter Isler, strategist Kenny Read and mainsheet trimmer Vince Brun alongside a real depth of talent and experience like trimmer sail designer Steve Calder and Ross Halcrow, Kiwi powerhouse Andrew Taylor while Italian America's Cup sailor Francesco d'Angelis is at the owner's side as helming coach.

      Ogletree adds, "It is great for us as a team. We are doing two more regattas so we are looking ahead now to Palma and to the Maxi Worlds in Sardinia. There is still a lot of work to do compared with the benchmark programmes Velsheda, Lionheart, Ranger and Hanuman. They have been doing this evolution programme for years. Velsheda have been doing this for double digit years and so we are happy to just prove ourselves competitive in such a short time frame.
      And of his baptism of fire into the class he recalls, "Last year was hard. I had never been involved in a J Class boat at all before, and so to launch a J Class yacht and go racing in just one year is a big ask. To get to the regattas at all was big for us. We had flashes of brilliance, a race win Bermuda and then getting second at the Worlds. Overall I think we hit a lot of marks and allowed us to make these changes for the 2018 season."

      Svea was in the Newport Shipyard from November until early February to correct the significant lee helm problem, which made the boat difficult to helm at best last year.
      "We added some area to the leading edge of the keel and extended the length of the boom. In 1937 the boat was designed with a 12 foot long centreboard (which is not permitted under current class rules). The balance was not perfect." Ogletree highlights.

      Svea has gained a small improvement in rating as her wetted surface has increased (due to the additional keel area) but is acknowledged this week as being quick downwind especially.
      Velsheda won a proper boat race today rather than a simple processional speed test as round the island races often are. At over half way around the island they trailed runaway Svea by well over one minute. But they found better pressure and a nice lift. Velsheda squeezed up to Svea got them into a lee bow and finally forced the erstwhile leaders to tack back inshore to lighter breeze and that was enough for Velsheda to keep their noses in front. Round the rocky southern tip, Svea went jaw droppingly close to the rocks as they tried to cut the corner inside their rivals, but again they had to tack away and the race win was Velsheda's.

      Their veteran tactician Tom Dodson reflected, "We feel like we had a good week. Today we sailed a nice race found some good shifts and pressure and Campbell (Field) and Rod Dawson did some great work keeping us in the breeze and working through the rocks. But it feels a little weird to have finished first across the line in four out of five races and not won the regatta. We leave here enthused for the season knowing we have to work harder and do some work on finding some more speed. I would also credit Topaz for sailing really well this regatta they won all the starts and they are looking quite polished now."

      Topaz's third today meant they narrowly lost second overall to Velsheda. Helmsman Peter Homberg said: "I have a mixture of emotions. These are such beautiful boats to sail how can you not be happy to be here in St Barths, racing with lovely people? Our team tried really hard and we sailed better than the results show. I am happy with our starts but the other guys might be a little faster than us. There is some optimising we can do to the boat but really I am not in favour of an arms race in this class like this. That is a tricky one and the class administrators need to be smart to find the balance of elegance and racing. They have to write a good rule and police it otherwise the rule gets pushed too far and it gets pressed and you hate to see that. I think it is such a wonderful thing in this class but I think we have to be careful as we do in all classes to try to prevent arms races."
      2018 St Barths Bucket, Day 4 Round the Island Race

      1 Velsheda 2hrs 23min 47sec, 2 Svea 2hrs 25mins 16sec, 3 Topaz 2hrs 28mins 3sec
      Overall Results
      1 Svea 6pts, 2 Velsheda 12pts, 3 Topaz 13pts
      " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella" Photo Gallery


      • #4
        Tom must be very happy.


        • #5
          Who is on board these days?

          Charlie obviously, Matt? Brent? Zack?


          • #6
            Who is on board these days?

            Charlie obviously, Matt? Brent? Ooops, meant Zan!


            • #7
              I think Hogan is on deck somewhere.