Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Rolex Big Boat Series Preview

J/105 sailing San Francisco Bay (San Francisco, CA)- 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.

"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 including robust fleets of J/70s, J/105s, J/111s, J/120s, and ORR handicap class.

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.

“September is the sweet spot for weather,” said Jim Kiriakis, Commodore of St. Francis Yacht Club, who added that while it can get breezy in the afternoon, the Bay rarely delivers “nuclear” conditions in September. “The day develops from morning’s tranquility into a dynamic breeze often in the 15-25 kts range that provides great competition.”

J/70s sailing San FranciscoDespite the fact the AUDI J/70 World Championship is taking place simultaneously half a world away on the Mediterranean, a great fleet of thirteen J/70s are looking forward to yet another four-days of awesome competition on the Bay.  The event has become popular with the J/70s since it offers a wide-range of sailing conditions as well as “random-leg” racing.  Often the first race in the morning is a Windward-Leeward race starting off either the face of Alcatraz Island or down in the infamous Berkeley Circle.  Then, if it’s breeze-on early, a second W/L takes place before the afternoon race- designed to get all boats racing back to finish off the line in front of St Francis YC.  Then, of course, is the famous “Around the Bay Race” that traditionally takes place on Sunday- a.k.a.- the “Bay Tour” that can be from 18 to 25nm in length.  Ironically, even for J/70s, those can turn out to be “short races”, especially if it is an “ebb tide” event, which it will be for 2017.  Those conditions permit J/70s to sail at 6-7 kts VMG upwind while planing downwind at speeds averaging 13 kts in full-on planing-mode conditions.

Looking forward to that challenge are a number of West Coast’s top J/70 crews, such as the Snow/ Brigden team on COOL STORY BRO, Pat Toole’s famous 3 BIG DOGS crew from Santa Barbara YC, Justin Kromelow’s LOOSE LUCY, Scott Sellers’ 1FA, David Schumann’s BOTTLE ROCKET, and Peter Cameron’s PRIME NUMBER.  Joining them from Amagasaki, Japan is Akinori Takezawa’s crew on PETIT STAR.

As usual, the J/105 class turns out in droves for this event, being one of their most popular regattas all season-long. Two-dozen J/105s will be lining up on the starting line. Leading the cumulative standings for the J/105 season series are BLACKHAWK, followed by GODOT, ARBITRAGE and DONKEY JACK. The fleet is deeply talented, including numerous RBBS Rolex watch winners to J/105 North American Champions to Block Island Race Week Rolex watch champions!  Sure to be on the leaderboard over the four days will be crews like Bruce Stone & Nicole Breault’s ARBITRAGE, Ryan Simmons’ BLACKHAWK, Shannon Ryan & Rolf Kaiser’s DONKEY JACK, Chris & Phil Perkins’ GOOD TIMIN’, Adam Spiegel’s JAM SESSION, Rick Goebel’s SANITY from San Diego, CA, and Jeff Littfin’s MOJO.

The J/120s have always loved the event and virtually every team on the Bay is in attendance.  Who will it be this time in this incredibly tight-knit fleet?  Seemingly, one boat seems to hit the “easy button” and just powers away, for no apparent reason.  And, each year its been different teams!  In any event, the players are Barry Lewis’ CHANCE, Tom Grennan’s KOOKABURRA, Timo Bruck’s TWIST, Steve Madeira’s MIST MAGOO, and Dave Halliwill’s PEREGRINE.

In the PHRF Sportboat class, three J/88s are taking on all comers in their seven-boat class.  Hoping to grab silver are Gary Panariello’s COURAGEOUS, Jeremy Moncada’s JUNO, or Marc McMorris’ M-SQUARED.

Finally, the 23-boat ORR class has a very wide-range of boats and may get broken up into two divisions.  Nevertheless, five J/111s that are fresh off sailing for five days in their recent J/111 World Championship will be out for blood, yet again.  With all that “training” against a very tough fleet of one-design crews, they will be formidable sailing in the ORR handicap division; those crews include J/111 World Champion Peter Wagner and his SKELETON KEY team, Gorkem Ozcelebi’s DOUBLE DIGIT, Dick Swanson’s BAD DOG, Nesrin Basoz’s SWIFT NESS and Doug & Jack Jorgenson’s PICOSA crew for Los Angeles (2nd in the Worlds).  Fighting them tooth and nail will be two of the famous J/125s- Richard Ferris’ AUGUST ICE for Lake Tahoe YC and Viggo Torbensen’s TIMESHAVER for Dana Point YC south of L.A.  Finally, two J/44s will be right in there, Paul Stemler’s PATRIOT from Newport Harbor YC and Jack Clapper’s PHANTOM from Mill Valley, CA.  Sailing photo credits- Sharon Green/ Ultimate For more Rolex Big Boat Series sailing information a data-flip-widget="flipit" href="">Add to Flipboard Magazine.