Rolex Big Boat Series – Serving Double Duty

Published on September 17th, 2015

San Francisco, CA (September 17, 2015) – If any regatta is worthy of doubling as a major championship for one of its classes, it is the St. Francis Yacht Club’s Rolex Big Boat Series, which started today, hosting 89 boats on San Francisco Bay. Held annually for over five decades and revered for its keen offerings both competitively on the water and socially ashore, the four-day event is serving as the North American Championship for the J/105 class, which with 27 boats comprises the largest fleet here. Rolex, which has sponsored the event since 2002, became the title sponsor in 2005 and includes the St. Francis Yacht Club in its portfolio of exclusive partnerships with leading yacht clubs around the world.

Today, the unthinkable happened, when the club’s race committee – known for expertly conducting more than its fair share of regattas thanks to San Francisco’s ideal winds (consistently strong), challenging conditions (currents aplenty) and superior setting (stadium sailing at its best) – had to postpone the morning race for two hours due to lack of breeze. It left the J/105 sailors champing at the bit, but in the end nothing was missed when both of today’s scheduled races were completed in 15 knots of westerly breeze.

At press time, Ryan Simmon’s Black Hawk showed as winning today’s first race, with Shannon Ryan and Rolf Kaiser’s Donkey Jack following in second. Donkey Jack had led the entire race, but Black Hawk edged them out in a photo finish. (Scores for the second race had not yet been computed.)
As all classes here must do, the J/105s rotate each day between the “Treasure Island” circle and the “Alcatraz” circle (named for the famous island that sits precariously in the middle of the Bay).

Today J/105s started with Treasure Island, sailing a 10.9 mile course, and followed it with an 11.1 mile race on the afternoon’s Alcatraz course. The latter race’s downwind finish wowed spectators at Crissy Field and the St. Francis Yacht Club Race Deck as competitors jockeyed for position under their unusually large asymmetrical spinnakers. As tradition calls for, all classes finished their second race the same way and at the same place: between the Race Deck and a mark set just shouting distance from the shore, with the Golden Gate Bridge set to the west as a stately backdrop.

Racing continues Friday for the J/105 class as well as ORR (A, B and C), HPR, PHRF Sportboat, Multihull, J/111, J/120, Melges 24, and Express 37. Racing concludes Sunday, September 20.

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