A CELEBRATION OF WORLD-CLASS RACING
Widely regarded as the West Coast’s premier regatta, the Rolex Big Boat Series features four days of world-caliber competition for buoy and stadium-style racing at St. Francis Yacht Club on San Francisco Bay. In 2019, the event celebrates its 55th edition with competition open to one-design boats in the Pac52, J/125, J/105, J/88, J/70 and Express 37 classes, PHRF sportboats, multihulls and monohulls greater than 35’ LOA with a current fully or partially measured ORR certificate.
From its inception, the Rolex Big Boat Series has been the annual showcase of what is “big” in west coast sailing. As sailing trends evolve, so too does the regatta. It remains on the cutting edge of sailing by continually adding new classes and championships to its lineup. All eyes will be on the Pac 52s, the one-design fleet with the largest vessels and a new design first introduced at the 2016 Rolex Big Boat Series. This is a “no second place” kind of fleet, and every skipper is racing to win.
A REWARDING HISTORY
Founded in 1964, the inaugural Big Boat Series regatta attracted nine yachts, with Jim Wilhite’s Sparkman & Stephens 63ft yawl Athene claiming the St. Francis Perpetual Trophy after a narrow victory over Jim Kilroy’s Kialoa II. In 1972, another perpetual trophy—the Richard Rheem Trophy—was added to the competition and awarded to Bill Clute’s Ericson 39, Chiquita. The fourth perpetual, the Keefe-Kilborn Memorial Trophy, was added in 1976 and awarded to Lucian Taylor’s Peterson 40 Racy. In 1978 (with a then-record of 46 entries), the Atlantic Trophy was added and won by Bill Sullivan’s Peterson 43 Blue Norther. In 2004, the Commodore’s Cup was added and is now awarded to the winner of the largest one-design fleet in the series. Chris Perkins and Dave Wilson’s J/105, Good Timin’, won the inaugural trophy.
The Big Boat Series has always been representative of what is big in sailboat racing. It hosted the glory days of IOR and IMS racing; it accommodated Maxis, Sleds and America’s Cup Class boats as well as fiercely competitive one-design classes. The event survived the economic ups and downs of the 1980s, and soared in entries in the late 90s and early 2000s, reaching 115 entries in 2003. In 2004, St. Francis Yacht Club initiated the use of the IRC handicap formula for entries 35 feet or longer, and in 2005, after three years as presenting sponsor, Rolex Watch U.S.A. became the regatta’s title sponsor.
In 2009, 2010 and 2011, respectively, the regatta doubled as the Rolex US-IRC National Championship, the pre-worlds for the Melges 32 Class, and the Farr 30 Worlds. In 2012, the regatta hosted the US-IRC North American Championship and in 2013, it directly succeeded the 34th America’s Cup on San Francisco Bay, serving as the HPR National Championship, the J/120 North American Championship, the IRC West Coast Championship and the pre-worlds for the Melges 24 Class.
2014 was a marquee year for Rolex Big Boat Series: the 50th Anniversary. Ninety-nine teams competed in ten classes and the event showcased another year of incredible racing. 2015 doubled as the J/105 North American Championship and also marked the 10th anniversary of Rolex Watch U.S.A. as the title sponsor. In 2016, Rolex Big Boat Series set a new record for largest fleet, welcoming 125 boats to the regatta.
ORGANIZER: ST. FRANCIS YACHT CLUB
Founded in 1927, St. Francis Yacht Club is steeped in over 90 years of yachting traditions. Through the years, the Club has always served the sport, and anchored the international game of yachting on San Francisco Bay. From the beginning, the St. Francis Yacht Club’s membership roster has included many of the Bay Area’s most prominent citizens and greatest sailors. Today, sailors such as Paul Cayard, John Kostecki, John Bertrand, Stan Honey, Morgan Larson, Johnny Heineken, Daniela Moroz, Paige Railey, Nicole Breault and Russ Silvestri continue to keep the St. Francis in the forefront of sailing.
The Club’s annual regatta schedule is one of the most active in the world. Part of the attraction of racing at the St. Francis Yacht Club is the excellent and challenging year-round conditions unique to San Francisco Bay. Both physically beautiful and naturally demanding, the Bay provides a racer with the ultimate in wind, current and weather conditions for truly competitive, exciting sailing.
The clubhouse provides a boating and social venue for members and their guests featuring deep-water guest docks, outstanding dining and incredible vistas of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay. The second floor Race Deck is the premier location to view yacht racing on the renowned City Front. With the skyline of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge as a backdrop, St. Francis Yacht Club prides itself on providing visitors with every comfort and amenity while dazzling them with spectacular surroundings.
ROLEX AND YACHTING
A natural and supportive partner
Rolex has always sought to associate with activities driven by passion, excellence, precision and team spirit, naturally gravitating towards the elite world of yachting and forming an alliance that dates to the late 1950s. Today, Rolex is Title Sponsor of 15 major international events; from leading offshore races, such as the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Rolex Middle Sea Race and the biennial Rolex Fastnet Race, through to the highest-level grand prix competition at the Rolex TP52 World Championship and spectacular gatherings at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and the Rolex Swan Cup. The Swiss watchmaker’s close partnerships with the most prestigious yacht clubs around the world, including the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (Italy), New York Yacht Club (United States), the St. Francis Yacht Club (United States) and the Royal Yacht Squadron (Cowes, United Kingdom), are the foundation of its enduring relationship with this spectacular sport.