The first Bucket regatta was organized in Nantucket, Mass, in August, 1986 to coincide with MANDALAY owner Nelson Doubleday's birthday celebrations. During an evening that evolved into a rather torrid Rum Squall, debate raged as to what each yacht and crew could accomplish, and the stage was set for bragging rights. The following day, seven yachts sailed the first Nantucket Bucket, a fifteen mile course in Nantucket Sound. Recollections are hazy as to exactly which yacht won, but records clearly indicate that no yacht finished worse than seventh.
Between 1986 and 2001, the Nantucket Bucket flourished, becoming a premier Mega Yacht Regatta that invited owners and crews of the world's largest sailing yachts to sail to peak performance in a safe venue, in the spirit of wholesome competition. The concept of pursuit racing was brought to life by the Bucket, with each Yacht assigned its own start time on a clear starting line for safety, and the start time calibrated to induce the yacht's speed handicap. Consequently, the first yacht to cross the finish line, wins.
Following the announcement that 2001 was to be the last Nantucket Bucket, the founders passed the torch to the present Bucket Race Committee; Hank Halsted, Ian Craddock and Timothy Laughridge. The summer venue was shifted in 2002, to Newport, RI, where the event has since been well hosted by the Newport Shipyard.
The first St. Barths Bucket was sailed in 1995 with a fleet of 4 yachts and fishing was a big part of the first races around St. Barths, with GLEAM the usual winner in that department. Within a decade, the St. Barths Bucket expanded beyond all reasonable expectations. With a limit of 30 yachts required by the local Authorities to keep a handle on the event, the Bucket has been all but full every year since 2005. In recent years, the fleet has overflowed with applicants even before the Notice of Race is published!
The primary reason for the success of the Bucket Regattas is that the emphasis is more upon wholesome fun than about winning. The stated goal is to 'win the party'. The omnipresent, over riding conundrum for the Bucket Raced Committee is to convince the most competitive owners on planet (demonstrated by the fact that they own these things in the first place) that winning isn't important!!