Six of 11 class winners honored with Rolex watch and perpetual trophy
By Sean McNeill
Photo © Rolex / Daniel Forster
SAN FRANCISCO — The record-setting 52nd Rolex Big Boat Series hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club drew to a close today in splendid late-summer sailing conditions. After a slight delay waiting for the breeze to fill, a seabreeze of 15 to 18 knots arrived and brought with it decidedly warmer temperatures. For the first time in four days, crews shed their foul weather gear and fleeces as they took to the racecourse.
This year’s regatta attracted the largest fleet ever: 127 boats in 11 classes. Throughout its storied history, the Rolex Big Boat Series has showcased the top end of the sport and this year’s fleet featured everything from a 70-foot trimaran to a bevy of trailerable sportboats. It illustrated the variety of shapes and sizes that grand-prix racing offers these days.
San Francisco’s reliable seabreeze came in every day, starting at a gentle 8 to 10 knots and then steadily increasing into the 20s, with a peak of 30 knots yesterday. All classes completed their full slate of racing, and although there were some broken masts and scrapes and bruises along the way, the regatta went off without a hitch.
“We are very happy with this year’s regatta,” said chairwoman Susan Ruhne. “The seabreeze came in every day, there was great racing on the water, and the camaraderie ashore was at its highest level. Rolex’s involvement made it a unique experience for everyone involved, from the volunteers, to the race committee, to the staff of the St. Francis Yacht Club. It was tremendous.”
The coveted prize at all Rolex Yachting events is a specially engraved Rolex timepiece. At this evening’s awards ceremony, six class winners—ORR A, ORR B, ORR C, J/105, California 40 (also known as Farr 40) and J/70—were presented a Stainless Steel Submariner Date watch as well as a St. Francis Yacht Club perpetual trophy.
The grand prize was the St. Francis Perpetual Trophy, which was first awarded at the inaugural Rolex Big Boat Series in 1964. It was won by Victor Wild’s (San Diego, Calif.) Fox (Pac 52), winner of ORR A. Fox recorded four 1sts en route to the low score of 12 points in the seven-boat class. Fox was launched eight months ago and this was its first regatta.
“Excellence is expected and we achieved it here,” said Wild, who also won ORR A at the 2015 Rolex Big Boat Series sailing on board the TP52 Bud. “This is a place of excellence. I love the competition and environment up here; it’s the best. The conditions are the best in the world for sailing, because it’s every kind of condition. It’s the top of the world to win a Rolex.”
Tim Fuller’s (Murrieta, Calif.) Resolute (J/125) won the City of San Francisco Trophy, one of the two golden spades used for the ground-breaking ceremony of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1933, for winning ORR B. Peter Wagner’s (Atherton, Calif.) Topzy Turvy (J/111) finished second and also was the top-scoring J/111 in the fleet.
The Keefe-Kilborn Trophy, established in 1976 to honor the memory of the late St. Francis Yacht Club members Harold Keefe and Ray Kilborn, was presented to Michael Shlens’ (Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.) Blade II, which won the California 40 Class with a 2nd in the final race, good for a 3-point win over M. Tony Pohl’s (Alamo, Calif.) Twisted.
The Atlantic Perpetual Trophy, a ship’s bell from the schooner Atlantic, which established a transatlantic record in 1905 that stood for 92 years, was presented to Philip Laby’s (Oakland, Calif.) Godot, winner of the J/105 Class. In a seesaw battle that came down to the seventh and final race, Godot scored a 1-point victory over Ryan Simmons’s (Sausalito, Calif.) Blackhawk.
The Richard Rheem Perpetual Trophy, awarded in honor of Richard Rheem whose celebrated yacht Morning Star set Transpac course records in 1949 and 1955, was awarded to Scott Kokka’s (Encinitas, Calif.) Audacity (Morris 52) for winning ORR C. Another new boat in the fleet, Audacity finished with 11 points, including four 1sts, and an 8-point victory over James Mullarney’s (San Francisco, Calif.) Scorpio (Wylie 42).
The Commodore’s Cup Perpetual Trophy was awarded to the winner of the largest one-design class in the regatta, the J/70 Class which had 36 entrants. The top-finishing J/70 was Julian Fernandez Neckelmann’s (Valle de Bravo, Mexico) Flojito y Cooperando. The reigning world champions tuned up for the 2016 Alcatel J/70 Worlds (Sept. 24-Oct. 2) by winning the last race of Rolex Big Boat Series to secure the title.
Other class winners put forth consistent score lines with multiple 1sts, including:
- David Halliwell’s (New York, N.Y.) Peregrine won the J/120 Class with the low score of 9 points, accumulated on five 1sts and two 2nds. Barry Lewis’s (Atherton, Calif.) Chance placed second with 13 points.
- Dan Cheresh’s (Saugatuck, Mich.) Extreme 2 dominated the C&C 30 One-Design Class, posting six 1sts, one 2nd and a 10-point win over Steve Stroub’s (Tiburon, Calif.) Tiburon.
- Kame Richards’s (Alameda, Calif.) Golden Moon won the Express 37 Class with six 1sts and a DNC. Richards had the class wrapped up after yesterday’s race and in an act of sportsmanship elected to sit out today’s seventh race, which allowed Jack Peurach’s (San Francisco, Calif.) Elan to score a race win.
- Paul Dorsey’s (San Francisco, Calif.) Gentoo (Soto 30) won the PHRF Sportboat Class by winning the final four races consecutively. Gentoo finished 3 points ahead of Michael Thielman’s (San Francisco, Calif.) Kuai (Melges 32).
- Tom Siebel’s (Redwood City, Calif.) Orion (MOD 70) claimed the multihull class with all top-3 finishes, including four 1sts. Jerome Ternynck’s (San Francisco, Calif.) SmartRecruiters (Extreme 40) finished 2nd.
Next year’s Rolex Big Boat Series is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 13–16, 2017.
All Rolex Big Boat Series Press Releases by Sean McNeill
Today’s Feature Video: Thank Yous from Rolex Big Boat Competitors