Pictured: A pair of “California 40s” (also known as Farr 40) trades tacks while practicing for the Rolex Big Boat Series on San Francisco Bay. (©ROLEX/Daniel Forster)
SAN FRANCISCO — A record fleet of 127 boats has registered for the 52nd edition of the Rolex Big Boat Series. The regatta begins tomorrow and is hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club on San Francisco Bay.
Since it began in 1964, the Rolex Big Boat Series has been widely recognized as the West Coast’s premier regatta. Always a popular draw with sailors from around the world, it’s no surprise that this year features the largest fleet ever. This year also marks the regatta’s 12th year of sponsorship by Rolex Watch U.S.A., and the St. Francis Yacht Club is among 12 preeminent clubs around the world with which Rolex is associated.
“When it comes to sailing on the West Coast this is our annual gathering of the tribes,” said St. Francis Yacht Club Commodore Kimball Livingston.
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.
The coveted prize at all Rolex Yachting events is a specially engraved Rolex timepiece. At the 2016 Rolex Big Boat Series, six class winners—ORR A, ORR B, ORR C, J/105, California 40 (also known as Farr 40) and J/70—will receive a Stainless Steel Submariner Date watch.
The St. Francis Yacht Club also awards six perpetual trophies to the same classes. The St. Francis Perpetual Trophy, first awarded at the inaugural Rolex Big Boat Series in 1964, is presented to the winner of ORR A. 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, will be presented to the winner of ORR B. The Richard Rheem Perpetual Trophy, awarded in honor of Richard Rheem, whose celebrated yacht Morning Star set Transpac course records in 1949 and 1955, will be awarded to the winner of ORR C.
The Atlantic Perpetual Trophy, a ship’s bell from the schooner Atlantic that set a transatlantic record in 1905, will be presented to the winner of the J/105 Class. The Keefe-Kilborn Trophy, established in 1976 to honor the memory of the late St. Francis Yacht Club members Harold Keefe and Ray Kilborn, will be presented to the winner of the California 40 Class. The Commodore’s Cup Perpetual Trophy is awarded to the winner of the largest one-design class in the regatta, which this year is the J/70 Class.
The race committee will use three of four separate racing areas—in the vicinity of Alcatraz, Treasure Island, Fort Mason and the Berkeley Circle (northeastern San Francisco Bay)—each day and hopes to complete seven races for all classes. The J/70 Class, however, is scheduled to sail 11 races, all starting on the Berkeley Circle. Racing will be clearly visible from Fisherman’s Wharf, the Embarcadero, Marina Green and Crissy Field. The first intended start each day is 11:00am PST.