When it comes to determining the fastest sailors in the West, the Rolex Big Boat Series (September 12-16, 2018), hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club, offers a once-a-year opportunity for teams to race against some of the world’s most accomplished teams on San Francisco’s tide- and wind-riven waters provided, of course, that they register for the event by August 31, 2018.
Rolex Big Boat Series sailors look forward to four days of high-caliber, adrenaline-fueled racing on North America’s greatest natural sailing amphitheater, followed by lively onshore socials every evening and post-racing opportunities to explore the host city, San Francisco.
“We’re anticipating an exciting and highly competitive fleet of boats this year,” says Jennifer Lancaster, StFYC's Race Director. “Looking over the scratch sheet, we have several former winners returning this year, and we’re seeing great turn-out in several classes, especially the J/105s, where we have 30 registered teams.”
While competition will be fierce in all classes, the J/105 entry list is a “who’s who” of West Coast one-design keelboat racers, including Chris Perkins’ Good Timin’ (USA 35) crew, who sailed-away in 2017 with the Commodore’s Cup perpetual trophy (awarded to the winner of the regatta’s largest one-design class); Bruce Stone and Nicole Breault’s highly decorated Arbitrage (USA 116) team, and Phillip Laby’s Godot (USA 44) squad, which won J/105 class honors at the 2016 Rolex Big Boat Series.
“It’s thrilling, from the first start all the way to the windward mark,” says StFYC Commodore Theresa Brandner, skipper of the J/105 Walloping Swede (USA 157). “I’ve raced in the fleet for over 15 years, and there’s rarely a dull moment.”
Others agree: “You definitely need boat speed and Bay smarts to be competitive,” says Ryan Simmons, skipper of Blackhawk (USA 40). “The courses are longer and will cross multiple tide lines in every leg; you need to be going the correct way, and if you're speed is off you won't be able to hold a lane. Rolex Big Boat Series can get pretty windy and force some aggressive boat-handling maneuvers, so top crew work is important to avoid a meltdown.”
While J/105 entries have tripled in number over the past ten years, the 2018 regatta is also pulling in fresh fleets: for the first time, J/88s will race as a one-design class. “We're very excited and looking forward to the competition of a one-design race—it will be a great debut on a big stage for the J/88 fleet,” says Aya Yamanouchi, skipper of the J/88 Benny (USA 79169). “It's an honor and opportunity to be able to participate in the Rolex Big Boat Series, and the city front’s big breeze is always a welcomed challenge.”
Speaking of big breeze and polished teams coming in hot to this year’s regatta, Dave MacEwen and his Santa Cruz 52 Lucky Duck (USA 28729) crew recently took top honors in this spring’s California Offshore Race Week and StFYC’s Phyllis Kleinman Swiftsure Regatta, a popular warm-up to Rolex Big Boat Series. While MacEwen admits that the boat is primarily setup for offshore work, he and his crew have been reconfiguring for the shorter course racing of Rolex Big Boat Series.
“Big Boat Series always brings out the best teams and boats,” says MacEwen. “Last year, the racing was tight with only a few points separating the top boats. We had great boat-for-boat racing with Elyxir and Deception, the other Santa Cruz 50/52s, and Swiftsure was also extremely well-sailed, leading them to win the St. Francis Perpetual Trophy.”
As for Lucky Duck’s expectations going into this year’s regatta, MacEwen nicely sums up what many returning teams are thinking: “We’re looking forward to all of it,” he says. “The racing is fantastic and StFYC puts on great parties.”
Enter your team by Friday, August 31 to enjoy top-notch racecourse management, warm and welcoming hospitality and—class-depending—the chance to win one of six perpetual trophies, each of which comes with a Swiss-made Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Chronometer.
AN UNRIVALLED REPUTATION FOR QUALITY AND EXPERTISE
Rolex, a Swiss watch manufacture headquartered in Geneva, is recognized the world over for its expertise and the quality of its products. Its Oyster and Cellini watches, all certified as Superlative Chronometers for their precision, performance and reliability, are symbols of excellence, elegance and prestige. Founded by Hans Wilsdorf in 1905, the brand pioneered the development of the wristwatch and is at the origin of numerous major watchmaking innovations, such as the Oyster, the first waterproof wristwatch, launched in 1926, and the Perpetual rotor self-winding mechanism invented in 1931. Rolex has registered over 400 patents in the course of its history. A truly integrated and independent manufacturing company, Rolex designs, develops and produces in-house all the essential components of its watches, from the casting of the gold alloys to the machining, crafting, assembly and finishing of the movement, case, dial and bracelet. Through philanthropic programmes and a broad palette of sponsorship activities, Rolex is also actively involved in supporting the arts, sports and exploration, and encourages the spirit of enterprise, as well as the conservation of natural environments.
About St. Francis Yacht Club
The St. Francis Yacht Club was founded in 1927 and has been host to many of the most prestigious national and international championships in sailing. With over 40 regattas on its calendar annually, the StFYC is widely regarded as having one of the top racing and race management programs in the country. In addition to enjoying a worldwide reputation for on-water excellence, Platinum Clubs of the World named the St. Francis Yacht Club the Number One Yacht Club in the United States in 2012, 2014 and 2016, and Boardroom Magazine recognized it as the first yacht club to be a Distinguished Emerald Club of the World.