Saturday, September 28, 2013

Rolex Big Boat Series Preview

J/125 winning Rolex Big Boat Series- San Francisco,  CA (San Francisco, CA)- The 49th edition of the Rolex Big Boat Series will take center stage on San Francisco Bay as the first sailing event succeeding the 34th America’s Cup, and spectators will once again have front row seats to watch some thrilling racing action. Running from September 26-29, the event is hosted by St. Francis Yacht Club and this year serves as the HPR National Championship, the J/120 North American Championship and the IRC West Coast Championship, as well as marks the debut of the J/70 one-design class.

“This year’s Rolex Big Boat Series is shaping up to be the sport boat regatta of the year,” said St. Francis Yacht Club Commodore Jim Cascino, who has owned and raced a J/120 at prior Rolex Big Boat Series events but will skipper his new J/70 EOS this time.  “You could say that much of the ‘big’ in Big Boat Series for 2013 is about big fun and big speed coming in small (boat) packages.”

Regatta Chair Norman Davant pointed out that sailboat racing as a whole there has seen a migration from one-off designs in the 50-60 foot range to smaller one-design boats and light displacement production boats.  For almost five decades, the Rolex Big Boat Series has embraced new developments in the sport while continually working to expand the diversity of its fleets.

“There is still plenty of ‘big’ in the Rolex Big Boat Series, even though several smaller classes have been invited this year,” said Davant, explaining that the minimum boat length at the Rolex Big Boat Series traditionally has been 30 feet, but with the America’s Cup racing filling up the bay with so much activity in August and September, lots of sailors with smaller boats have been feeling “squeezed out.”  “There’s only so much racing runway out there,” said Davant, “and we felt it was the right time to allow these fleets to join our event and do what they love: race in San Francisco. We’ve developed new courses based on computer-generated models to provide the sport boat fleets challenging racing that will also give spectators fantastic viewing.”

A dedicated spectator-friendly race track has been set up for the J/70s. “It will be fast, exciting, racing along essentially the same track as the America’s Cup race courses, with the starts and finishes in front of the club and major viewing areas,” said Davant, adding that the regatta’s two other popular courses have undergone a complete overhaul, featuring a mark just outside the Golden Gate Bridge and another starting area off of Alcatraz Island.

Recognized as one of the premier West Coast regattas, the Rolex Big Boat attracts professional and corinthian sailors from around the world. With 75 boats currently registered, over 100 boats are expected to compete in the 2013 event. The four-day regatta includes daily prize givings for all classes, and six coveted awards--accompanied by Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner timepieces for skippers--are given for best performances in specific classes.

Sailing in the IRC/ HPR Big Boat division are four J/125s and a J/120.  The J/125s have enjoyed very close, one-design type of racing against one another.  Peter Kruegers' DOUBLE TROUBLE has "three-peated" the regatta, so it will be interesting to see if they're on pace to repeat again!  Chasing them hard will be Richard Ferris's AUGUST ICE from Lake Tahoe, CA; Greg Slyngstad's HAMACHI from Seattle, WA and Tim Fuller's RESOLUTE from San Diego, CA.  The lone J/120 sailing is David Halliwill's PEREGRINE from New York, NY.

The eight J/70s have a diverse fleet with teams from across California.  In addition to Commodore Cascino's EOS, the San Francisco Bay contingent includes Chris Kostanecki (JENNIFER), Frank Slootman (LITTLE HAND), Mark Howe (RED), Mark Nelson (SUGOI) and Chris Andersen (THE PERFECT WIFE).

As they have for over twenty years, the J/105 class has shown up "en masse" for the RBBS with twenty-two boats sailing for yet another Rolex Submariner watch.  Many familiar faces as well as some new ones continue to pace the fleet.  Scooter Simmons's BLACKHAWK, Bruce Stone's ARBITRAGE, Shannon Ryan/ Rolf Kaiser/ Steve Kleha's DONKEY JACK, Phil Laby's GODOT, Adam Spiegel's JAM SESSION, Jeff Litfin's MOJO have all been amongst the class leaders over the years.  Which team will pull it all together this year?  No matter what happens, they will have great one-design racing short-tacking the city-front or working the downwind angles for current advantage.

The J/120 North Americans are being held as part of this year's RBBS.  A solid six boat fleet is sailing, all of whom have either won or placed on the podium over the years in this regatta.  It's not unusual to see all six boats finish within seconds of each other after 8-12 nm of racing around the Bay.  Just about every boat sports "local knowledge" experts, so it's hard to escape since most everyone knows the "SF Bay playbook".  In any event, the six players are Barry Lewis (CHANCE), John Wimer (DESDEMONA), Dick Swanson (GRACE DANCES), Steve Madeira (MISTER MAGOO), Timo Bruck (TWIST) and the "Chicago Trio" - Woodworth, Sickler and Polcyn sailing PAKA'A.

The fleet should be treated to exceptional San Francisco Bay sea-breeze weather for all four days-- 70s during the day, sunny, windy (15-20 kts) and with plenty of tactical opportunities based on wind shifts and current "cones".  For more Rolex Big Boat Series sailing information