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Rolex Big Boat Series - Bristling showdowns on final day

by Barby MacGowan on 10 Sep 2012
Jim Swartz’s TP 52 VESPER in IRC-A - Rolex Big Boat Series 2012 © Rolex/Daniel Forster http://www.regattanews.com
On the Rolex Big Boat Series fourth and final day a majority of the eight classes competing had bristling showdowns to determine winners, while others held the line to establish early leaders as class victors, including IRC A’s Jim Swartz (Park City, Utah) and his team aboard the TP52 Vesper, which also were named the IRC North American Champions for 2012.

'In my mind, sailing is all about teamwork, and we just have a fantastic team,' said Swartz, mentioning crew members Jamie Gale, Ken Keefe and Gavin Brady as among the greatest sailors in the world. 'It really helps the program immensely when you have a group of people who know how to take care of each other.'

Ken Keefe added that the team also won the IRC East Coast Championship earlier this year. 'After having a successful summer on the East Coast and then to come here and do so well is just an incredible feat and shows how strong our team is.'

As it did last year here, Vesper also won the St. Francis Perpetual Trophy, one of six coveted awards given for best performances in specific classes at this regatta. The trophies remain on display at St. Francis Yacht Club; however, six Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner watches are presented to skippers as personal evidence of their teams having won them.

Today’s single 'Bay Tour' distance race showed all classes (four for IRC, one for Catamarans and one each for Express 37s, J/105s and J/120s) the four corners of San Francisco Bay, routing 66 teams on courses that incorporated a start near Berkeley Pier to the east, mark roundings near the Golden Gate Bridge to the west and natural obstacles such as Alcatraz and Treasure Islands for assured testing of navigational skills. Conditions remained the same as they basically had been all regatta long: amazingly free of San Francisco’s famous morning marine layer, with sunny skies, temperatures in the low 60s, and plenty of breeze going the same direction as a strong flood tide, which meant mostly smooth-water sailing.


City of San Francisco Trophy – IRC B: Yesterday’s leader in IRC B, Daniel Woolery (Alamo, Calif.) aboard the King 40 Soozal, today had to beat defending champion Brad Copper (Alamo, Calif.) and his Custom Tripp 43 TNT to win, and he did it by finishing first to TNT’s third. Woolery only slipped from the top spot on the scoreboard once this week, on Friday when TNT temporarily displaced him.

'This is my third Rolex Big Boat Series,' said Woolery. 'Since the very beginning, we’ve always managed to have a good record with more wins than losses. Others said that Soozal was the boat to beat for this regatta, and it turns out it was the case, but we had to work hard to get there.'


Richard Rheem Perpetual Trophy – IRC C: Peter Kreuger’s J/125 Double Trouble, which last year won this class with Kreuger’s boat partner Andy Costello skippering, added a victory today to four more it had garnered over the previous six races and finished a full five points ahead of its closest competition, Resolute, another J/125 skippered by Tim Fuller (Murietta, Calif.). The class, reserved for light-displacement boats in the 40-foot range, is commonly referred to as 'fast forties,' and was dual-scored using the IRC as well as the new HPR (High Performance Rule). Double Trouble was the dual winner in both systems; however, Bernard Girod’s (Santa Barbara, Calif.) Farr 400 Rock & Roll, which was fourth in IRC C, took second using HPR scoring. Resolute took third in HPR, and the overall corrected time differences proved to be much closer in this new system. 'This helps prove the new rule as being more favorable towards the latest-generation high-performance designs,' said HPR rule developer Bill Lee.

'It was a great race today,' said Double Trouble’s tactician Jeff Madrigali (Whidbey Island, Wash.), a 1996 Olympic medalist who grew up sailing here. 'We had a light-air start, but the wind built really fast and the fleets were all intermingled and boats were flying. It was fun. The week has been great, with really good weather, great race management and a wonderful group of people to sail against.'


Keefe-Kilborn Perpetual Trophy – IRC D: It was all about who beat whom in IRC D today, and Frank Morrow’s (San Francisco, Calif.) Hawkeye managed to hold off Gerard Sheridan’s (San Francisco, Calif.) Tupelo Honey for the lead, winning today’s race and finishing one point ahead of Tupelo Honey, which finished second in today’s race and claimed second overall.

Atlantic Perpetual – Express 37: An upset in the Express 37 class had Michael Shlens’ (Palos Verdes Est., Calif.) Blade Runner knocking out long-time rival and defending champion Kame Richards’ (Alameda, Calif.) Golden Moon for victory. Golden Moon had topped the scoreboard early in the regatta and stayed there, except for a brief stint when both teams were penalized for a mark observance infraction. (Redress was later granted, and both teams returned to their former positions.)

'The Express 37 fleet is really exciting and the boats are all very equal; even after 20 miles of sailing today, we all managed to stay overlapped at the finish,' said Shlens. 'One minor error can be the difference of three or four boats. Several of the spinnaker reaches were very close and the final reach is where many positions changed within just a few miles. Golden Moon is very well sailed and Kame Richards is just an outstanding sailor, so we were trying to stay in front of him from start to finish.'

Commodore’s Cup – J/105: When Donkey Jack’s skipper Rolf Kaiser (San Francisco, Calif.) said yesterday that there were still three or four boats that could actually win in the largest class here at the regatta, he undoubtedly was including among them today’s race winner Godot, skippered by Phillip Laby (Oakland, Calif.). Godot was only one point behind Donkey Jack going into today, and now it shares the same point score, though Donkey Jack wins on a tie breaker after finishing fourth in today’s race.

'The J/105 fleet is one of the most competitive one-design fleets on San Francisco Bay,' said Donkey Jack’s main trimmer Steve Kleha (San Francisco, Calif.). 'Our tactic going into today was to win the race. Right off the line we scooted off past Blackhawk to clinch that part of the battle. After that, our spinnaker trimmer told us to go underneath Alcatraz, which earned us two places ahead of Mojo and JuJu.'


Defending champion Blackhawk, skippered by Scooter Simmons (Belvedere, Calif.), finished third overall.


J/120: In perhaps the most dramatic conclusion of the Rolex Big Boat Series John Wimer’s Desdemona redeemed itself today, after it lost its lead yesterday to defending champion Chance, skippered by Barry Lewis (Atherton, Calif.). With only one point between the boats going into today, Desdemona had to finish ahead of Chance, which it did by posting a second to Chance’s fourth and edging the team out by one point overall.

'We knew that Chance was who we had to beat, but we also couldn’t afford to just let the rest of the fleet go, so we just needed to get a decent start and sail smart,' said Wimer, who has competed in the event for 22 years. 'Our expectations are always to do well and to have a challenge; this fleet has all really good sailors and it always comes down to the last race in the regatta. That is what it came down to today.'


Catamarans: New for this year was a class for Catamarans, which thrilled spectators with their blazing speed and daring moves, especially at mark roundings where they sometimes mixed with monohulls holding a slower, steadier pace. Today saw Urs Rothacher’s (Oakland, Calif.) SL33 BridgeRunner beat Peter Stoneberg’s (Tiburon, Calif.) ProSail 40 Shadow, but Shadow had already wrapped up the series and only had to make it around the course today to win. Effecting Shadow’s handicap-adjusted performance may have been a paddle boarder who happened to be in the line of fire at the downwind finish and forced the catamaran to miss the line completely. The cat—with the same finesse it has shown over the past three days--coolly recovered from its wild detour and safely finished in 20 knots of breeze, eliciting admiration and applause from spectators on the Race Deck at St. Francis Yacht Club.

Sailed since 1964, the St. Francis Yacht Club Big Boat Series added Rolex Watch U.S.A. as a title sponsor in 2005. For next year, the event moves back one week to September 26-29.

Final Results (top-three)
Place, Yacht Name, Type, Owner/Skipper, Hometown, Results, Total Points
IRC A (IRC - 6 Boats)
1. Vesper, TP 52, Jim Swartz, Park City, Utah 1, 1, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1 (8)
2. Rio, TP 52, Manouch Moshayedi, Corona del Mar, Calif. 2, 2, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2 (13)
3. Swiftsure II, Schumacher Custom 54, Sy Kleinman , Saratoga, Calif., 3, 4, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4 (24)

IRC B (IRC - 5 Boats)
1. Soozal, King 40, Daniel Woolery, Alamo, Calif., 1, 1, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1 (9)
2. TNT, Custom Tripp 43, Brad Copper, Pt. Richmond, Calif., 2, 2, 1, 1, 4/SCP, 2, 3, (15)
3. Swazik, Swan 45, Sebastien de Halleux , San Francisco, Calif., 3, 3, 4, 3, 3, 3, 2 (21)

IRC C (IRC - 6 Boats)
1. Double Trouble, J 125, Peter Krueger, Reno, Nev., 1, 1, 3/SCP, 1, 2, 1, 1 (10)
2. Resolute, J 125, Tim Fuller, Murrieta, Calif., 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 2, 2 (15)
3. August Ice, J 125 41, Richard Ferris, Tahoe City, Calif., 3, 3, 3, 3, 1, 3, 3 (19)

IRC D (IRC - 7 Boats)
1. Hawkeye, IMX 38, Frank Morrow, San Francisco, Calif., 2, 2, 1, 1, 3, 1, 1 (11)
2. Tupelo Honey, Elan 40, Gerard Sheridan, San Francisco, Calif., 1, 1, 2, 3, 2, 2, 2 (13)
3. Encore, Sydney 36 CR, Wayne Koide, San Anselmo, Calif., 3, 3, 3, 2, 5, 3, 3 (22)

Catamarans (PHRF_ToT - 7 Boats)
1. Shadow, ProSail 40 Cat, Peter Stoneberg, Tiburon, Calif., 1, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1, 2 (10)
2. BridgeRunner, SL33, Urs Rothacher, Oakland, Calif., 2, 4, 1, 2, 2, 4, 1 (16)
3. Vamonos, Sig 45, Tom Siebel, Felton, Calif., 4, 1, 4, 3, 4, 3, 3 (22)

HPR (Exhibition Class) (ToT - 6 Boats)
1. Double TRouble (HPR), J 125, Peter Krueger, Reno, Nev., 1, 1, 4/SCP, 1, 3, 1, 1 (12)
2. Rock & Roll (HPR), Farr 400, Bernard Girod , Santa Barbara, Calif., 2, 4, 1, 2, 1, 4, 4 (18)
3. Resolute (HPR), J 125, Tim Fuller, Murrieta, Calif., 3, 2, 4, 3, 4, 3, 2 (21)

J 105 (One Design - 21 Boats)
1. Donkey Jack, J 105 34.5, Shannon Ryan/Rolf Kaiser/Steve Kleha, San Francisco, Calif., 10, 3, 5, 1, 7, 1, 4 (31)
2. Godot, J 105, Phillip Laby, Oakland, Calif., 5, 5, 4, 2, 6, 8, 1 (31)
3. Blackhawk, J 105, Scooter Simmons, Belvedere, Calif., 1, 6, 9, 6, 1, 4, 10 (37)

J 120 (One Design - 7 Boats)
1. Desdemona, J 120 40, John Wimer, Half Moon Bay, Calif., 1, 1, 4, 3, 4, 2, 2 (17)
2. Chance, J 120, Barry Lewis, Atherton, Calif., 3, 3, 2, 4, 1, 1, 4 (18)
3. Grace Dances, J 120, Dick Swanson, Los Altos, Calif., 4, 4, 5, 1, 2, 3, 1 (20)

Express 37 (One Design - 7 Boats)
1. Blade Runner, Express 37, Michael Shlens, Palos Verdes Est., Calif., 4, 2/RDG, 4, 1, 4, 1, 1 (17)
2. Golden Moon, Express 37, Kame Richards, Alameda, Calif., USA - 2, 2/RDG, 2, 2, 5, 2, 4 (19)
3. Bullet, Express 37, Michael Maloney, Alameda, Calif., USA - 1, 3, 5, 3, 3, 3, 2 (20)

Rolex Big Boat Series website

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