April 07' 2009 - #102
Overseas Secretary Yves Jégo Visits Saint Barth
On Saturday morning, March 21, the president of the Collectivity of St Barthélemy and members of the UMP political party were at the airport to meet the French Overseas Secretary of State when he arrived from St Martin with his wife. During his brief visit to St Barth, Yves Jégo first met with the gendarmes to discuss various aspects of their new mission as frontier police. Accompanied by Bruno Magras, senator Michel Magras, and the island’s vice presidents, the Secretary of State was able to change his schedule in order to meet the population during a walk through Gustavia. From the main dock, the delegation walked along the waterfront and examined the dock damaged by the high seas during hurricane Omar. During a stop for a cold drink and a plate of fresh fruit at the La Route des Boucaniers, Yves Jégo met with various island representatives and elected officials on the theme of sustainable development through solar power and electric cars. When they arrived at the Hôtel de la Collectivité a half-hour later, a sizable crowd welcomed Yves Jégo in the council chambers.
In his speech, Bruno Magras first discussed the high cost of living on the island—an average of 20% higher than in Guadeloupe—and asked that when the LODEOM (law for overseas development) passes, to have the amendment adopted by the Senate to adjust prices of necessary products in the other overseas departments, to be applicable in Saint Barth as well. The president then asked the Secretary of State about the fiscal agreement that is still unsettled between the COM and the general finance office. Bruno Magras lastly stated his disappointment in the decision made by the constitutional council on January 8, 2009 rejecting the idea of a deputy to represent the island in the National Assembly.
After a speech by senator Michel Magras, and one by Christian Lédée, who was named the island’s economic and social councilor in June 2008, Yves Jégo spoke, replying that he had heard the requests that Bruno Magras had made and that the government would support Saint Barth while applauding its desire to ensure its own growth. He noted that all of the decisions made about Guadeloupe following the general strikes would also be applied in St Barth as well as St Martin. Jégo also said that he regretted the decision made by the constitutional council, and indicated that the law could be modified in the future.
Yves Jégo then presented the insignias of Chevalier of the National Order of Merit to Jean-Pierre Ballagny for his “career and depth of his commitment” in terms of his service to the art, culture, and quality of life on the island. After founding the association St. B’Art in 2002, this talented painter—who is also a member of the Lions Club—was one of the creators of the association Avenir Plus, whose goal is to encourage the young people on the island. Teacher, director of a public relations office, then a local newspaper near Paris, he decided to start afresh and settled in Saint Barth after arriving on the island on a sailboat in 1988.
This official visit by the Overseas Secretary of State concluded with a visit to La Ligne de St Barth in Lorient, before lunch with the politicians at the Sereno Hotel. Yves Jégo, who had already visited the island on a personal trip, spent the weekend in Saint Barth before leaving the island for Guadeloupe and Martinique on Monday morning.
St. Barth Bucket
The Caribbean version of the Newport Bucket (originally the Nantucket Bucket), which takes place every summer in Newport, RI, the St Barth Bucket brings some of the world ’s most spectacular sailboats to the island the last weekend of March for three days of regattas around the island.
The 14th edition of the Bucket took place on March 26-29, 2009 with the largest fleet to date, with 35 on the starting line and 34 that finished. Most of these yachts measure over 100’ long, and had their owners at the helm for this unusual invitational regatta. The Bucket concept was first imagined by Tom Taylor (owner of Gleam) and Nelson Doubleday (owner of Mandalay), and organized by Tim Laughridge (Sariyah), John Clyde-Smith & Ian Craddock (Mandalay) and Mike Frierbend (Gleam).
Today a team of at least 30 people led by Hank Halsted organized the event, in conjunction with the Collectivity of Saint Barth, the Port of Gustavia, the Saint Barth Yacht Club, and the St Barth SNSM rescue at sea station. According to many of the participants, this year was the most successful regatta in the history of the race.
Among the entries were nine boats from the Penini Navi shipyards, one of the sponsors of the Bucket, including the legendary Maltese Falcon. This 289’ high-tech yacht belongs to businessman Tom Perkins, and cruises at an average of 17 knots, with a unique rig whose three rotating masts contain the 15 sails that are completely computer controlled.
The weather conditions were ideal this year for these giant yachts: sunny skies and winds between 15 and 20 knots allowed each boat to put its best foot forward staggered starts to equal the playing field and spectacular finishes. The overall winner after three days of racing was Meteor, a contemporary 170’ schooner built by Royal Huisman.
Every year, monies are donated to a worthy cause on the island. After the sailing school and the Femur last year (St Barth Foundation for Emergency Medical Equipment), this year it was the Mireille Choisy junior high school that benefitted. 10% of the entry fees were donated to the school to finance the purchase of new computers.
More to come