SAN FRANCISCO — The Rolex Big Boat Series is the third and concluding event of the 2016 Rolex Yachting calendar in the U.S., and it will close out the year with a bang. A record fleet of 127 boats has registered for the 52nd edition of the regatta that begins tomorrow and is hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club on San Francisco Bay.
Two Rolex regattas earlier this year, the New York Yacht Club’s 162nd Annual Regatta (June 10-12) and New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport (July 9-16), attracted 131 and 101 boats, respectively. Combined with the Rolex Big Boat Series, more than 350 boats will have competed in the three events, signaling a healthy state of big boat racing.
The St. Francis Yacht Club and New York Yacht Club are among 12 preeminent clubs around the world with which Rolex is associated. The Geneva-based watchmaker is one of the longest tenured supporters of global yacht racing, having first associated with the New York Yacht Club in 1958.
“I can’t express enough how grateful we are for Rolex’s support,” said Rolex Big Boat Series chairperson Susan Ruhne. “The brand’s involvement is a natural draw for owners and crews because they know that the race organization will be precise and the level of competition will be great. We’re very much looking forward to a record-setting Rolex Big Boat Series and setting a new standard for the regatta.”
The coveted prize at all Rolex Yachting events is a specially engraved Rolex timepiece. At the 2016 Rolex Big Boat Series, the winner will receive a Stainless Steel Submariner Date watch. This year’s fleet showcases the variety of boats offered in grand-prix racing and includes sport boats, ORR-rated boats and multihulls, as well as several sizable one-design classes. There are 38 J/70s and 26 J/105s, as well as nine boats over 50 feet in length. The C&C 30 One-Design (five boats) makes its debut at the regatta, while the Express 37 class (seven boats) races in its 26th edition of the Rolex Big Boat Series. Six “California 40s” (otherwise known as Farr 40) also are entered.
September is a busy month on the Rolex Yachting international calendar, particularly in the Mediterranean Sea. Rolex partner Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in Porto Cervo, Sardinia, last week (Sept. 4-10) hosted the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, including the Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship, and this week (Sept. 11-18) hosts the Rolex Swan Cup, including the Swan 45 World Championship. Later this year the international calendar wraps up with the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, which starts Dec. 26 in Sydney Harbor, Australia.