The Rolex Big Boat Series in San Francisco, California doesn’t seem to skip a beat when it comes to offering cutting-edge grand prix racing. This year, the event—scheduled for its 48th edition on September 6-9, will be adding performance catamarans to the already dense roster of monohulls sailing in IRC and one-design classes.
Fog off the Golden Bridge
Adding catamarans was inspired by the America’s Cup sailing that has been taking place on San Francisco Bay. In fact, the Rolex Big Boat Series will follow an America’s Cup World Series event in August and precede another in October.
'The Rolex Big Boat Series is one of the premier events in the world, and having catamarans included in it for the first time is very exciting for us, especially in light of the interest in performance catamaran racing generated by the upcoming America’s Cup World Series events in San Francisco,' said St. Francis Yacht Club Commodore Peter Stoneberg, who will be racing in the event aboard his ProSail 40 catamaran Shadow.
'I love catamarans. You just can’t beat the thrill and adrenaline of racing them on San Francisco Bay, and this year’s Rolex Big Boat Series will be the first premier class regatta that includes a catamaran division.'
Ambiance at Saint Francis Yacht Club - Rolex Big Boat Series
According to Staff Commodore of the Bay Area Multihull Association (BAMA) Bob Naber, 'The class will enjoy exciting racing, provide viewers with a fantastic experience and show a breed of catamarans that are available to sailors outside of the America’s Cup.' The class will include performance catamarans over 35 feet, with no limitations on technology and design. They will be scored using handicap PHRF ratings issued by BAMA and race on courses similar to those used for America’s Cup racing.
With less than one month to go until the first starting gun fires, Urs Rothacher (Oakland, Calif.) has been preparing his SL33 BridgeRunner for some tight racing. BridgeRunner is a boat class that is being used by both Luna Rossa and Emirates Team New Zealand for practice and testing leading up to the America’s Cup.
'The SL33 design is very versatile and one of the fastest boats you can sail without having a full professional crew,' said Rothacher, who purchased BridgeRunner in December 2011. 'With fast multihulls, I’m not fighting against the boat; I’m fighting against the boundaries of physics, because that is about as fast as these sailboats can go.'
Ambiance at St Francis Yacht Club - Rolex Big Boat Series
Going up against BridgeRunner will be Brendon Bush’s (La Honda, Calif.) D Class Catamaran Rocket 88, which won the doublehanded division of the Three Bridge Fiasco Race and currently holds the record for elapsed time in the Delta Ditch Run.
'It will be a competitive fleet,' said Bill Turpin, who will be co-skippering with Bush. Turpin added that the team finished second overall in the 2011 BAMA Cup and is currently leading in the BAMA series this year. 'I’m really excited, because catamaran racing is totally different; it’s athletic, and the speed potential is just enormous.'
Turpin has competed in the Rolex Big Boat Series many times before in his Turbo Sled Akela. 'The venue is very nice, the conditions are always challenging, the social life during the regatta is fantastic and the race management is world-class. I think it’s really exciting that they are letting us in, and it will be very interesting to see how the cats compare to the monohulls.'
St Francis YC website