The Big Sail: Aren’t rivalries great?

Published on November 20th, 2019

One of the pillars of college football’s identity is its rivalries. Think UCLA vs. USC, Michigan vs. Ohio State, Alabama vs. Auburn, Minnesota vs. Wisconsin. Other sports have rivalries, but a rivalry shapes the history of the programs involved in a college-football feud.

Winning the rivalry game can salvage a team’s entire season.

The rivalry game between the California Golden Bears and Stanford Cardinal has a 127 year history, and for the 16th year the two sailing teams have joined in, holding The Big Sail each November on the Tuesday before “The Big Game” which this year takes place on Saturday, November 23.

The Big Sail consumes St. Francis Yacht Club (San Francisco, CA) with bands and cheerleaders from both schools, alongside the membership with deep roots in both schools. For a club perched on the edge of the race course, it is a scene like no other.

The 2019 Big Sail featured five divisions: Varsity, Women’s, Young Alumni, Masters Alumni, and Grandmasters Alumni, and is raced in a fleet of one-design J/22s provided by St. Francis Yacht Club. Each division match-races on short courses for the best two out of three races.

For the student teams, it’s hardly a fair fight as the Bears are a club team compared to the massive varsity team budget at Stanford, but after Cal won all but the Varsity match, a school fan publication was not above taking a jab at the Cardinal team’s involvement in the college admissions scandal. Aren’t rivalries great? Here’s their report:

Tuesday marked the first time when the Cal and Stanford Sailing teams have faced each other in a head-to-head match-up since the College Admissions scandal broke earlier this year. An estimated 1,000 spectators, the Cal and Stanford Bands, and the schools’ respective cheerleaders were in attendance for the regatta in front of the St. Francis Yacht Club on San Francisco Bay.

Cal beat Stanford 4–1, with the only loss coming in the Varsity division (current students); and Cal swept the races in the four winning divisions, each in a best-of-three format. The race results, however, are only a part of a larger story—namely, the impact the college admissions scandal has had on the Big Sail and collegiate sailing. – Full report.

Here are additional reports from St. Francis Yacht Club and Stanford.

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