The 44th annual Rolex Big Boat Series kicked off with classic San Francisco Bay conditions of early fog and building breeze. Over 1,000 sailors on 111 boats completed the first of four days of racing in nine classes -- four for IRC-rated boats and five one-designs, 1D35, Beneteau 36.7, J/105, J/120 and Melges 32.
In IRC A, where the largest boats are racing, the Reichel/Pugh 45 Criminal Mischief is leading. Owned by Chip Megeath, the boat was last seen on San Francisco Bay as Sjambok when Larry Ellison chartered it for the 2007 Rolex Big Boat Series and finished third. John Kilroy's TP52 Samba Pa Ti is in second, with Bill Turpin's Reichel/Pugh 78 Akela - the largest boat entered -in third.
For Jim Mitchell (SUI), who chartered the Reichel/Pugh IRC 52 Vincitore, being in fourth place in IRC A is fine with him. 'It was an awesome day,' he said moments after returning to the dock. 'It was my first day sailing in San Francisco. Our first race was really competitive with Samba. It was great.' He went on to explain that although they finished third in the first race, the second race was more challenging. 'We had some dramas as the Kiwi boys onboard would say. We cleaned the boat bottom with the spinnaker. If we would've gotten it onboard we would have been the second boat to finish.' They finished fourth.
Defending class champion Bartz Schneider on Expeditious leads the 10-boat Express 37 fleet with Mark Dowdy on Eclipse. 'I'm happy with a 1-2 and it's a great start,' said Schneider. 'However, I have to caution my crew to be careful because last year Kame Richards started out with three bullets and we overtook them. So it's not in the bag for us.' The Rolex Big Boat Series has served as the class' national championship for the past 18 years.
The largest fleet competing is the J/105 with 31 entries. Defending champion Chris and Phil Perkins on Good Timin' posted a 1-3 to narrowly lead Donkey Jack, co-owned by Rolf Kaiser and Scott Sellers, the recent class North American champions.
Brad Copper's Custom Tripp 43 TNT leads the 9-boat IRC B class; John Siegel's Wylie 42 Scorpio leads the 8-boat IRC C class; and Mike Garl's Beneteau 40.7 White Dove leads the 13-boat IRC D class.
In the 1D35 class, Masakazu Toyama (JPN) leads, while Mistral, owned by Edward Durbin, leads the 6-boat Beneteau 36.7 class.
Steve Madeira, the perennial favorite in the J/120 class, leads with his Mr. Magoo followed by Chance, owned by Barry Lewis. The Melges 32 class leader is John Porter on Full Throttle, with Pieter Taselaar tied and in second place on the points countback.
This evening competitors celebrated the first day of racing at the Rolex Party where the first daily video was shown. The regatta ends with Sunday's final Rolex Trophy Ceremony where specially engraved Rolex timepieces will be awarded to the St. Francis Yacht Club's six Perpetual Trophy winners.
Regarded by sailors as one of the world's premier sailboat racing events, the Rolex Big Boat Series joins the list of other prestigious Rolex-sponsored events in 2008: the Rolex Fastnet Race, the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship, Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, the Rolex Swan Cup and the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Rolex Big Boat Series 2008 - Sept. 11-14, 2008 - Day 1 of racing, two races completed IRC A (9 boats)
1. Criminal Mischief, Chip Megeath, Tiburon, CA, 1-2, 3
2. Samba Pa Ti, John, Jr. Kilroy, Jr, San Francisco, CA, 4-1, 5
3. Akela, Bill Turpin, Santa Cruz, CA, 2-3, 5 IRC B (9 boats)
1. TNT, Brad Copper, Pt. Richmond, CA, 1-2, 3
2. Rancho Deluxe, Michael Diepenbrock, Newport, RI, 2-3, 5
3. Swiftsure, Sy Kleinman, Saratoga, CA, 5-1, 6 IRC C (8 boats)
1. Scorpio, John Siegel, San Francisco, CA, 2-1, 3
2. TKO, Dave Kirby, Manhattan Beach, CA, J/122, 1-3, 4
3. BustinLoose, Jeff Pulford, Monterey, C, 5-2, 7 IRC D (13 boats)
1. White Dove, Mike Garl, San Francisco, CA, 2-1, 3
2. Tupelo Honey, Gerard Sheridan, San Francisco, CA, 1-4, 5
3. Acabar, Jean-Yves Lendormy, Camden, ME, 3-2, 5 1D35 (7 boats)
1. Ebb Tide, Masakazu Toyama, Seabonia YC, 4-1, 5
2. Diablita, Gary Boell, Brickyard Cove, 1-4, 5
3. Great Sensation, Mario Yovkov, San Francisco, CA, 3-2, 5 Beneteau 36.7 (6 boats)
1. Mistral, Edward Durbin, Richmond YC, 2-1, 3
2. Bufflehead, Stuart Scott, Richmond YC, 1-2, 3
3. Summer And Smoke, Pat Patterson, Angwin, CA, 3-4, 7 Express 37 (10 boats)
1. Expeditious, Bartz Schneider, San Francisco, CA, 1-2, 3
2. Eclipse, Mark Dowdy, San Francisco, CA, 5-1, 6
3. Golden Moon, Kame Richards, Alameda, CA, 2-4, 6 J/105 (31 boats)
1. Good Timin', Phil Perkins, San Francisco, CA, 1-3, 4
2. Donkey Jack, Rolf Kaiser, San Francisco, CA, 2-4, 6
3. Blackhawk, Scooter Simmons, Belvedere, CA, 8-1, 9 J/120 (8 boats)
1. Mr. Magoo, Steve Madeira, Northeast Harbor, ME, 3-1, 4
2. Chance, Barry Lewis, San Francisco, CA, 1-4, 5
3. Dayenu, Donald G Payan, San Francisco, CA, 5-2, 7 Melges 32 (9 boats)
1. Full Throttle, John Porter, Lake Geneva, WI, 1-3, 4
2. Bliksem, Pieter Taselaar, New York YC, 2-2, 4
3. Pegasus 32, Philippe Kahn, Santa Cruz, CA, 5-1, 6
For more information about the Rolex Big Boat Series, including entry lists and results, please visit www.stfyc.org