Since it began in 1964, the Big Boat Series has been widely recognized as the premier West Coast regatta. Never content to rest on its laurels, it’s no surprise that—in its 52nd edition—this will be the largest Big Boat Series ever, with a record-setting 127 entries. The next largest fleet raced in 2013, with 104 boats. 2016 also marks the regatta’s 12th year of sponsorship by Rolex, a company that continually brings the Big Boat Series to the next level with world-class socials and a fully decked-out Club.
This year’s fleet will showcase the variety of boats that grand-prix racing offers these days. In addition to several sizeable one-design classes, there will sportboats, ORR-rated boats and multihulls including the 70-foot, Orion, and the Extreme 40, SmartRecruiters. There are six “California 40s” (otherwise known as Farr 40s), thirty-eight J/70s and twenty-six J/105s, as well as nine boats over fifty feet.
For many J/70 sailors, Rolex Big Boat Series will be a Pre-Worlds event, as Alcatel J/70 Worlds begins on San Francisco Bay on September 24. The J/105s will be hotly contested as they have been duking it out all summer, most recently at the Aldo Alessio Regatta where 19 J/105s raced in a challenging flood tide. There will be new classes—five C&C 30s—and classic classes—seven Express 37s racing in their 26th Rolex Big Boat Series.
To accommodate this massive fleet, the Race Committee will set courses in three areas: Berkeley Circle, Alcatraz and Cityfront. Races will be a combination of round-the-buoys and Bay tours and the majority of finishes will occur just off the club’s Race Deck, in true Big Boat Series style.
“The Big Boat Series is here to give the sailors what they want,” said St. Francis Yacht Club Commodore, Kimball Livingston. “The first time out, 52 years ago, wooden boats fit that description. We’ve been through aluminum, fiberglass and carbon fiber. Today, boats are twice as fast and getting faster. Any way you go at it, San Francisco Bay tastes nasty, and there’s no better place to sail.”
As per usual, the after-racing socials will draw a crowd. Wednesday night kicks off with the Commodore’s Reception in which the Commodore will announce which six classes are competing for the six perpetual trophies and new Rolex watches. On Friday at the Mt. Gay Lawn Party, sailors and friends will enjoy rum drinks, food trucks and live music. In between there will be great food available all day, from breakfast on the docks in the mornings to “Beer on the Docks” after racing, a favorite StFYC tradition.
Amidst it all, we’ve gone green! Thanks to a partnership with official our green partner, Whitecaps Marine Outfitters, every sailor will receive a Big Boat Series reusable water bottle. All cups at social will be biodegradable and all food waste will be composted. Thanks to these and additional efforts, Rolex Big Boat Series is a Gold-level certified “Clean Regatta” through Sailors for the Sea.