There’s an old adage that it’s best to have a comfortable seat when the music stops. While nobody is overly concerned with creature comforts at an athletic competition, all teams wishing to secure their spot on the starting line of the Rolex Big Boat Series (September 14-17, 2017), hosted by St. Francis Yacht Club, are kindly reminded that the entry-deadline music officially stops on September 6, 2017.
Given that St. Francis Yacht Club is expecting 100 teams from around the world, this hard-and-fast entry deadline ensures that the Race Committee can properly execute the west coast’s premier regatta.
Once teams secure their “seat” at this regatta, they can look forward to four days of well-organized racing on San Francisco Bay’s jaw-dropping natural amphitheater, directly in front of the Club. On these waters, Marin County, Alcatraz Island, Angel Island and the Golden Gate Bridge provide the backdrop as Mother Nature tests competitors with a constantly changing set of tidal and meteorological challenges.
“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 performance-art project that’s cloaked as a serious competition.”
Others agree. “Nothing comes close to the consistent high-octane conditions provided by late summer on the San Francisco Bay,” said Julian Mann, owner and skipper of the well-sailed C&C 30, Don’t Panic (USA 30026). “Add in the interesting mix of courses and challenging current conditions, and the Rolex Big Boat Series makes for some really exciting sailing.”
While every class is highly competitive at Rolex Big Boat Series, all eyes will be on the newly launched Pac52 class, which will make its Rolex Big Boat Series debut as a one-design class. Six Pac52s are expected to enter by the time the entry-deadline music stops, including Victor Wild’s Fox (USA 55052), Karl Kwok’s Beau Geste (IVB 1997) and Manouch Moshayedi’s Rio (USA 3545).
“It’s massive to have the brand new Pac52 yachts coming to Rolex Big Boat Series in force,” said Commodore Kiriakis. “Classes are living, breathing organisms that shift with technology and momentum, and Pac52s are currently the apex predators of the sportboat food chain.”
In addition to Pac52s and a MOD70, St. Francis Yacht Club’s Rolex Big Boat Series regularly attracts other offshore-worthy sleds including Lorenzo Berho’s Kernan 70 Peligroso (MEX 55555), “fast 50s” including Skip Ely’s Santa Cruz 52 Elyxir (USA 287474), Michael Moradzadeh’s Santa Cruz 50 Oaxaca (USA 8927), and Sy Klienman’s Schumacher 54, Swiftsure (USA 16), plus a spread of Farr 40s, J/120s and Express 37s, and an assortment of turbo-charged PHRF boats such as Melges 32s and C&C 30s.
“For me the C&C 30 is a fun and challenging boat in all conditions, and I find it to be the most rewarding right here at home on the Bay,” said Mann. “In less than 12 knots of breeze we’re a displacement keelboat, in 12-16 knots we’re in a transitional planning mode, and in 16+ knots we’re fully on the step. Anyone who’s familiar with the Bay knows that, come late summer, that means we are consistently planning most every afternoon.”
Likewise, anyone familiar with St. Francis Yacht Club’s entry channel and inner harbor knows that tidal action can backfill it with sand. Good news: the harbor will be dredged in late August to accommodate deep-draft boats at the Rolex Big Boat Series.
While the Bay has a longstanding tradition of delivering great conditions in mid-September, the only guarantees are this: the entry-deadline music will stop on September 6; the event will commence on September 13; St. Francis Yacht Club’s Race Committee will conduct a world-class regatta; and this year’s Rolex Big Boat Series fleet will race for six perpetual trophies, each of which comes with a Swiss-made Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Chronometer.
by St. Francis Yacht Club