Svea wins first J Class title at St Barths Bucket regatta
by Chris Jefferies
"We are so excited to win. It is incredible for all of us," said Svea's project manager and tactician Charlie Ogletree. "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 newest member of the J Class fleet, Svea got off to a perfect start by winning the first three races. A finishing line error on Saturday (March 17) saw Velsheda’s likely first win cancelled out, handing the fourth race to Svea and making the fifth and final race something of a formality.
However, the points table disguises how close this particular regatta was — Velsheda was first across the line in four out of five races and one of Svea’s victories was decided by a slender margin of just 17 seconds.
Svea’s triumph comes after a difficult opening season, in which the modern classic sloop lost a furling swivel during the 2017 America’s Cup J Class Regatta and faced a race against time to attend the inaugural J Class World Championship in Newport last August.
"Last year was hard,” Ogletree admitted. “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.”
“There is still a lot of work to do compared with the benchmark programmes Velsheda, Lionheart, Ranger and Hanuman,” he added. “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.”