How a trail hike led to the race course

Published on September 11th, 2018

A hike on Angel Island several years back sparked Michael Chammout’s interest in sailing San Francisco’s premier racing event of the year, the Rolex Big Boat Series.

“I looked down and saw all the boats on the Bay and wanted to be in the mix,” Chammout said. “Seriously, it was beautiful watching all the different starts.”

But things didn’t quite go as planned after submitting his first entry for the 2017 edition of the event. Just two days before competition started, race officials pulled Chammout’s entry as the length of his boat – 34 feet – didn’t fit in a division already posted in the Notice of Race.

“I was ready to go, my crew had taken time off from their jobs for the 4-day event, race officials had even put the Rolex sticker on my boat,” said Chammout. “The club was very nice about it, though, and let us attend all the social events.”

The minimum length for the ORR C division, under which Chammout’s Beneteau 10R Mulan will race this year, was 35 feet. The NORs were modified this year to include Chammout’s boat, opening the doors for similarly sized vessels to compete in the division. The result is that Chammout is more than ready this year, he’s had crew shirts made — again — and he’s been fine tuning his boat for a 4-day, potentially heavy air campaign.

He noted that crew practice has probably been the most important aspect of preparation and he’s been regularly training with his crew. He’ll race with a roster of 12 people including his two daughters who are in their mid-20s, with a rotation of eight on any given day.

“My crew include friends, others I have recruited crew from work, Latitude 38, and an app called Go Sailing,” Chammout said. “Many of my crew learned to sail and developed their racing on Mulan — I move them around different positions so everybody gets to learn and advance their skills.

“It’s like starting a band — getting the crew to work together as a team and when the team is really cooking in harmony – that’s the magic and it’s what keeps me inspired.”

Seventy-six boats are entered in seven fleets, with the J/105 class boasting 28 teams. Racing is planned for September 13 to 16.

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Source: Marin Independent Journal



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