At the four-day Rolex Big Boat Series, a one-hour postponement ashore, followed by another hour of waiting on San Francisco Bay, neither dashed spirits nor inhibited competition, which started yesterday for 107 sailors in ten classe.
J/105 Fleet off the St. Francis Yacht Club
In fact, just as it did yesterday, the wind faithfully filled in as a westerly—light at first but packing the same punch, at 18-20 knots, by the end of the day—to overpower the morning easterly and accommodate two races each in the four handicap classes (HPR, IRC A, B and D), a performance multihull class, and four one-design classes (J/105, J/120, Melges 24 and Express 37). In a fifth one-design class for J/70s, a second set of three races was added to three races from yesterday and began to tell a story of 'consistency pays off.'
'You’ve got to be in the right place with full speed and clear air,' said St. Francis Yacht Club Commodore Jim Cascino, who skippers the J/70 Eos, currently leading in that class. 'If you do that, as we were fortunate enough to do over these two days, it makes a big difference.'
Sailing on Cascino’s four-person crew was Stu Johnstone, whose family developed the J/Boat line of boats (there are 40 total sailing here, the majority in one-design classes and the others in HPR and IRC) and this latest class, which has become wildly popular in the short year and a half since its launching. His description of the Eos team’s 'little scare' in today’s second race, when the team rounded a mark the wrong way, captured the excitement and variety built into the design of multiple race courses used here.
'We started in front of Alcatraz Island and beat all the way up to the Sausalito side of the Bay towards the Golden Gate, and then took off on a screaming plane, reaching, then running all the way down to Treasure Island,' said Johnstone, explaining an approximately eight-mile race that took about an hour and a half to complete. 'That was where we rounded the mark first and saw the entire fleet round the other way on starboard, so we went around and corrected ourselves. We were last at the bottom mark.'
The Eos team fought back to second by playing the famous 'current cone' alongside Alcatraz and then screaming along the waterfront off of Crissy Field to catch boats. 'We hung in there, and then we had this crazy jibing back and forth to the finish (off the race deck at St. Francis Yacht Club).'
As they have for over 20 years, J/105 class sailors have shown up en masse for the Rolex Big Boat Series, fielding 22 teams. Skippers and crew members were discussing light-air strategies on the dock this morning, but were hopeful the breeze would pick up, as it did.
'These boats are built for heavy breeze,' said Scott Whitney, a co-owner of Risk (currently in third) with Jason Woodley, who says there are 65 J/105s that regularly sail in the San Francisco Bay area. 'In light air we have to shift gears, but basically we’re all in the same boat…literally.'
Today’s conditions benefitted Phillip Laby’s J/105 Godot, which finished second in both races to replace yesterday’s leader, Scooter Simmons’s Blackhawk, at the top of the scoreboard.
'Yesterday we were in fifth at the end of the day,' said Godot. 'We went into today not wanting to make too many mistakes, make sure we had a game plan, and follow it the whole way through. We managed to get good starts and just stay in the game, and it turns out we made some good decisions.'
Godot added that last year, his team was in an almost identical position on the second day, and on the last day, they had to beat several boats to win. In the end, they lost a tiebreaker for first. 'This year we’re back to avenge,' he said.
Rolex Big Boat Series
The only class larger in numbers than the J/105 is the Melges 24, which is sailing its Pre-Worlds and, as would be expected, sports a truly international fleet, with 13 countries represented among the 38 entrants. In that class, Franco Rossini’s Italian entry Blu Moon has a tight grip on the lead.
Rolex Big Boat Series
In the Performance Multihull class, Urs Rothacher’s SL33 BridgeRunner holds a one point lead over Jerome Ternynck’s Extreme 40 SmartRecruiters. The class has plenty of talent sailing within, including 24-year-old Kyle Langford, wing trimmer on the winning America’s Cup (Oracle) team last week, sailing aboard Peter Stoneberg’s ProSail 40 Shadow (currently fifth), and four-time Olympian and Olympic silver medalist in Tornado class (2004) Charlie Ogeltree, sailing aboard Tom Siebel’s MOD 70 Orion (currently third).
Rolex Big Boat Series
Peter Krueger’s J/125 Double Trouble, which has 'three-peated' here as a class victor in the past, posted two bullets today in HPR, jumping from fourth to second place overall and tying on point score with yesterday’s leading team, Daniel Thielman’s Tai Kuai, which remains at the top of the leaderboard due to tie-breaker rules. This morning, Donald Payan, skipper of the McConaghy 38 Whiplash, which slipped a notch to third today, described Tai Kuai as the 'scratch (fastest-rated) boat, which, in a nice breeze and a flood tide, can put the hammer down and go.' Yesterday he recalled beating Double Trouble by only 10 seconds. 'That’s basically one tack – they are terrific sailors.'
Double Trouble was today named Boat of the Day, a new daily award instated this year. Six St. Francis Yacht Club Perpetual Trophies, which are coupled with the awarding of Rolex timepieces, have been designated to go this year to IRC A (St. Francis Perpetual Trophy), IRC B (City of San Francisco Trophy), HPR (Richard Rheem Perpetual Trophy ), J/120 (Keefe-Kilborn Perpetual Trophy ), J/105 (Atlantic Perpetual), and Melges 24 (Commodore’s Cup).
Sailed since 1964, the St. Francis Yacht Club Big Boat Series added Rolex Watch U.S.A. as a title sponsor in 2005. Six specially engraved Rolex timepieces are traditionally awarded to winners of the St. Francis Yacht Club’s Perpetual Trophies: the St. Francis Perpetual Trophy; the City of San Francisco Trophy; the Richard Rheem Trophy; the Keefe-Kilborn Memorial Trophy; the Atlantic Trophy; and the Commodore’s Cup.
USA in the race
Rolex Big Boat Series
2013 Rolex Big Boat Series
Place, Yacht Name, Type, Owner/Skipper, Hometown, Results, Total Points
HPR (HPR - eight Boats)
1. Tai Kuai, RP 44, Daniel Thielman, Tiburon, Calif., USA - 1, 1 (2)
2. Whiplash, McConaghy 38, Donald Payan, Hillsborough, Calif., USA - 3, 2 (5)
3. Rock & Roll, Farr 400, Bernard Girod, Santa Barbara, Calif., USA - 2, 4 (6)
IRC A (IRC - two Boats)
1. Vesper, TP 52, Jim Swartz, Park City, Utah, USA - 1, 1 (2)
2. Beecom, TP 52, Isao Mita, Yokohama, Kanagawa, JPN - 2, 2 (4)
IRC B (IRC - five Boats)
1. Swiftsure, Schumacher 54, Sy Kleinman , Saratoga, Calif., USA - 1, 1 (2)
2. Twisted, Farr 40, M. Tony Pohl, Alamo, Calif., USA - 2, 2 (4)
3. BustinLoose, Sydney 38, Jeff Pulford , Salinas, Calif., USA - 3, 4 (7)
IRC D (IRC - six Boats)
1. Peregrine, J 120 40, David Halliwill, New York, N.Y., USA - 2, 1 (3)
2. Mirthmaker, A 35, Tad Lacey , Belvedere, Calif., USA - 1, 2 (3)
3. Tupelo Honey, Elan 40, Gerard Sheridan , San Francisco, Calif., USA - 4, 3 (7)
J 70 (One Design - seven Boats)
1. Eos, J 70, Jim Cascino , Lafayette, Calif., USA - 2, 1, 1 (4)
2. Little Hand, J 70, Frank Slootman , Pleasanton, Calif., USA - 1, 2, 2 (5)
3. Red, J 70, Mark Howe / Cameron , Richmond, CA, USA - 5, 3, 3 (11)
J 105 (One Design - 22 Boats)
1. Blackhawk, J 105, Scooter Simmons , Belvedere, CA, USA - 1, 2 (3)
2. Mojo, J 105, Jeff Littfin , San Mateo, Calif., USA - 2, 3 (5)
3. Risk, J 105, Jason Woodley / Scott Whitney , Greenbrae, Calif., USA - 6, 1 (7)
J 120 (One Design - six Boats)
1. Chance, J 120, Barry Lewis , Atherton, Calif., USA - 1, 2 (3)
2. Desdemona, J 120, John Wimer, Half Moon Bay, Calif., USA - 3, 1 (4)
3. Grace Dances, J 120, Dick Swanson , Los Altos Hills, Calif., USA - 2, 4 (6)
Melges 24 (One Design - 38 Boats)
1. Blu Moon, Melges 24 24, Franco Rossini , Rovio, Svizzera, SUI - 4, 1 (5)
2. FULL THROTTLE, Melges 24 20, Brian Porter , Fontana, WI, USA - 3, 2 (5)
3. Rock N' Roll, Melges 24 24, Argyle Campbell , Newport Beach, CA, USA - 2, 4 (6)
Express 37 (One Design - six Boats)
1. Golden Moon, Express 37, Kame Richards , Alameda, CA, USA - 2, 1 (3)
2. Expeditious, Express 37, Bartz Schneider , Crystal Bay, NV, USA - 1, 2 (3)
3. Elan, Express 37, Jack Peurach, San Francisco, CA, USA - 4, 3 (7)
Multihull (ToT - seven Boats)
1. Gradient Vee, Marstrom M32, Randy Miller, Orinda, Calif., USA - 1, 1 (2)
2. BridgeRunner, SL33, Urs Rothacher , Oakland, Calif., USA - 2, 3 (5)
3. Orion, MOD 70, Tom Siebel , Redwood city, Calif., USA - 6, 2 (8)
For the NOR and more information, go to Event Website. Find us on Facebook at St. Francis Yacht Club – Racing, and follow @bigboatseries.