34m sailing yacht Nakupenda wins the 2023 St Barths Bucket

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33m Nakupenda crowned winner of the 2023 St Barths Bucket

20 March 2023 • Written by Holly Overton

The 33.2-metre sailing yacht Nakupenda has clinched the overall victory at the St Barths Bucket 2023 after winning her class in two out of three races across an action-packed three-day regatta. 

The Danish Yachts-built sloop returned to the racecourse after competing in last's year event and was able to swap her third-place title for a first-place trophy in her class and overall. 

Credit: Martin Baum/Pantaenius

“I’m over the top about it,” said Nakupenda’s owner/driver Steve Rowland. This is his fourth regatta with Nakupenda but his first class win and overall victory after finishing with a 4-1-1 scoreline. “We were in a three-way tie going into today [the final day] with Bequia and Action, so we knew we had to beat both of them. I tried not to think of anything but getting to the finish line once we had passed Bequia [the 28-metre ketch that started ahead] in the final miles of the race and had Action [the 37-metre sloop that started behind] gaining on us from behind.” Bequia and Action finished second and third, respectively, in overall results.

Conditions on the conclusive day of the series saw the trade winds blow at around 18-24 knots, giving sailors a reprieve from the 20-26 knots earlier in the week. 

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Credit: Martin Baum/Pantaenius

According to Nakupenda’s tactician Stu Ballantyne, the team's winning move was passing inside of the 50-metre Almyra II at the Petite Groupers rock formation. “Our navigator said we had room, so we did it, passing very close to the rocks.” He added that the team also made some changes after having some trouble with spinnaker take-downs yesterday. “We needed to make the boat and our manoeuvres more reliable, so we changed the system for how we managed the drops. It minimised the risk of damage and definitely improved our performance. In fact, we improved in all areas every day.”

Credit: Martin Baum/Pantaenius

Other class winners include the 33-metre WinWin, 47.7-metre Wisp, 51.7-metre Red Dragon and the 43-metre Columbia, which was the only vessel to win all three races.

Two other awards were handed out during the prizegiving ceremony held on Sunday (19 March) to the 51.7-metre Prana for "Best Starter" and to the 51.7-metre Red Dragon for the "Owner Driver" award.

The next edition of the St Barths Bucket will take place from 21 to 24 March 2024.