When it comes to determining the fastest guns in the west, Rolex Big Boat Series, hosted by the venerable St. Francis Yacht Club (StFYC), has long served as the left coast’s pivotal proving ground. Of the 40 regattas StFYC hosts each year, Rolex Big Boat Series is the signature event and enjoys a proud 52-year history of testing competitors’ skills in the demanding, rewarding conditions of San Francisco Bay. Registration is now in full swing for the 2017 rendition of the regatta (September 14-17, 2017), and competitors are encouraged to sign up early to ensure their spot on the starting line.
"Rolex Big Boat Series draws the top skippers and crew from around the U.S. and abroad, who should be prepared for four days of racing in challenging conditions," said Dennis George, Rolex Big Boat Series regatta co-chair. "While the fleets vary in size, the competition in every fleet is fierce."
Racing is anticipated to take place in nine classes that include monohull and multihull vessels ranging in length from 23 to 70 feet LOA. The Race Committee will be scoring results using ORR, PHRF and BAMA (multihulls) handicap-rating rules. Additionally, the event will attract some of the hottest One Design sailors and classes, including robust fleets of J/70s, J/105s, J/111s, J/120s, C&C 30s, Express 37s and Farr 40s.
All told, this year’s fleet will be competing for six perpetual trophies, accompanied by a Swiss-made Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date Timepiece, as well as additional take-home trophies, the details of which will be announced at the Rolex Commodore’s Reception on Wednesday, September 13 in StFYC’s Golden Gate Room.
Given the regatta’s long history of offering world-class sailing conditions and enviable trophies, this late-summer regatta is known for attracting hardware exotica, and 2017 will be no different. “The Big Boat Series is the high point of the year for Orion,” said Tom Siebel, owner and skipper of the well-sailed MOD70 trimaran, Orion. “The people at St. Francis Yacht Club do a remarkable job of organization. The Race Committee does a superlative job. We will be in the Big Boat Series as long as they allow us to play.”
While Orion will likely be the sharpest knife on the Bay come September, this year’s event will also highlight the debut of some of the world’s most competitive monohulls. “I'm excited to see the new Pac 52s race,” said Susan Ruhne, regatta co-chair. “Our 50-foot entrants will hopefully consist of two classes—Pac52s and the classic ‘fast-is-fun’ boats like the Santa Cruz 50s and 52s and a Schumacher 54 that’s already entered. All told, we are hoping for double-digit entries amongst the 50-footers, many of whom have previously won their Rolex Big Boat Series class.”
Sailors love to spin yarns about the Bay’s ability to blow dogs off their chains, but the truth is that this body of water offers a wide-variety of conditions, testing each crew’s ability to fluidly shift gears. “You can expect sunny or foggy mornings, a strong afternoon sea breeze, tricky ebb and flood tides…but then of course there’s always the chance of getting something completely different!” said George. “As the local saying goes, ‘it’s never like this here!’”
While weather is a wildcard at any regatta, StFYC leaves nothing to chance when it comes to event management, both on and off the water. “We can’t guarantee breeze, but we can guarantee a world-class Race Committee that will keep the racing smooth and tight,” said Ruhne.
Online registration for the 2017 Rolex Big Boat Series is open until Tuesday, September 6, 2017. Teams are encouraged to register before August 1, after which an additional fee will apply. And while there is no official entry cap, Rolex and StFYC are gunning to see 100 boats on several starting lines come mid-September. Please visit www.rolexbigboatseries.com for more information or to register for this exciting regatta.
Rolex, the leading brand of the Swiss watch industry, is headquartered in Geneva and enjoys an unrivalled reputation for quality and expertise the world over. Its Oyster 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 all the essential components of its watches in-house, from the casting of the gold alloys to the machining, crafting, assembly and finishing of the movement, case, dial and bracelet. Rolex is also actively involved in supporting the arts, sports, exploration, the spirit of enterprise, and the environment through a broad palette of sponsoring activities as well as philanthropic programs.
About St. Francis Yacht Club
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, 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 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.