Yesterday’s race (Thursday 17th) saw three majestic entries in the J-Class; Hanuman, Ranger and Velsheda. These boats started their Bucket series a day earlier than the 24 superyachts and three 90-footers who will join the competition later on.
In the first of two windward-leeward races, Ranger suffered a failure of its primary winch used for both jib and spinnaker pole trim. The issue happened during the rounding of the last windward mark and therefore affected the team’s sailing. However, they were not the only team to experience issues, as Velshelda’s team also had their bad share of luck. They shredded a spinnaker on a spreader during the middle of the first downwind leg. But, it was the team behind Royal Huisman’s Hanuman that experienced plain sailing compared to their competitors. The team sailed cleanly across the finish line in first place, leaving a dramatic photo finish to Velshelda and Ranger. The team behind Velsheda managed to pull it back, and despite their bad luck they managed to cross the finish line less than five seconds ahead of Ranger.
“In the second race we crossed the starting line just in case another team might have problems and it would make a difference in our scoring,” said Ranger skipper Ed Baird, explaining that then, as predetermined, his team retired from the race due to the mechanical problem.
The second race saw just two boats competing, but the drama was still heightened when Hanuman, skippered by Ken Read, dropped its spinnaker into the water. The team received a penalty from the on-water judges who closely watched the match from the sidelines.
“To be brutally honest, we got a little overly clever and forgot we were sailing a boat that’s 185 tons and 140 feet,” said Read. “Yeah, it was a bit of a mistake (getting in a tight spot with Velsheda), but we also got out of some tight spots. In match racing, you live by the sword, die by the sword – at the end of the day that’s how it works.” In the end, Velsheda crossed the finish line in first place with Hanuman apparently finishing in second place. There is currently an inquiry into the rating system being processed for the final scores for both races. This was still being deliberated during the time of print for this article.
“The cool part of today is that the Bucket is back in a big way,” said Read, “and it’s cool that the J-Class boats could pull the curtain back on the event and show everyone some ridiculously amazing sailing!”