Despite a light wind start to the third day of racing at Rolex Big Boat Series, the St Francis YC race committee completed two races for the 1,000-plus sailors competing.
The wind built to a suitable 6-8 knots while racers waited on San Francisco Bay for the 11am start of race one. However by mid-day the wind picked up to the more typical 15-18 knot range and with a strong 3-knot ebb current to battle, race two was where fortunes were decided.
In IRC A, the class with the largest boats, Bill Turpin's Reichel/Pugh 78 Akela took line honors in the first race, followed closely by Vinctore, the Reichel/Pugh IRC 52 chartered by Jim Mitchell (SUI) with tactician Gavin Brady onboard. However, John Kilroy's TP52 Samba Pa Ti crossed the finish line ahead of Vincitore in race two and with it moved to the top of the 9-boat class.
Yesterday's class leader Criminal Mischief, the Reichel/Pugh 45 owned by Chip Megeath slipped to third overall.
Brad Copper and his Custom Tripp 43 TNT pulled into the lead of IRC B class after posting a fast finish in the day's first race, ahead of yesterday's leader Michael Diepenbrock and his Swan 45 Rancho Deluxe.
Going into Sunday's final race, Copper hopes for moderate wind, conditions the boat favors, and promised to keep an eye on his competition. 'We have tremendous respect for Rancho Deluxe. Swiftsure is a very well-sailed boat and it is better in heavier winds.'
Swiftsure, Sy Kleinman's Schumacher 54, is in third overall after taking line honors in the day's second race.
Dave Kirby continues to lead the 8-boat IRC C class with his J/122 TKO, while White Dove, the Beneteau 40.7 owned by Mike Garl maintains the top spot in IRC D. In one-design racing, Mario Yovkov's Great Sensation held its lead in the 7-boat 1D35 class in spite of Yovkov's admitted nerves over proposing marriage with a large, emblazoned spinnaker flown at the finish which read, 'Will you marry me'. Edward Durbin scored a 1-3 to add to his considerable score line in 6-boat Beneteau 36. 7 class and hold on to first place, and Bartz Schneider extended his lead in the Express 37 class.
Fortunes swapped in the 8-boat J/120 class to find Steve Madeira's Mr Magoo back in the lead over Barry Lewis' Chance.
Michael Illbruck put in another notable day in the Melges 32 fleet on his Pinta (GER), scoring a 1-6 to maintain the lead, however the team is tied on points with John Porter on Full Throttle. Joe Woods (GBR) moved into third overall with RED.
'Today was up and down, said Illbruck. 'The first race was good. We had good pace and in the second race the beats were very difficult for us. You only have an amount of luck and we didn't have any breaks. It wasn't anything specific.'
Illbruck's multi-national team prepared by calling on the experience from crew members such as Don Cowie and Grant Loretz and new views by bringing in Trevor Baylis to provide local coaching, on recommendation from Illbruck's close friend John Kostecki.
'I am the only German and there are six Kiwis,' continued Illbruck. 'We have strong roots in New Zealand. My father sailed with Kiwis and we had eight Kiwis on the Volvo Ocean Race boat. But really, it is more than just sailing. They are friends and I appreciate what they have done for us over the years. They are simply good sailors, the mood is always good, never down.'
Illbruck was quick to point out the value of having multi-talented Ray Davies on board calling tactics. 'There are good tacticians, but very few really great tacticians,' he said. 'Ray Davies is excellent, the guy is incredible. I've known him for many years, and I've always known that he was a good sailor. He was important for Team New Zealand, and aside from his abilities on the water he is a fantastic person. That's important. I would never sail with someone who isn't.'
Going into tomorrow's final deciding race, the top five have a chance at winning. 'We just have to go out and do our best,' said Illbruck. 'We have good speed and also I think the guys on the boat know how to win. Full Throttle (renamed for this regatta) is fantastic, they do a good job. I think it's the toughest group of Melges sailors we have competed against. The Italians are very, very strong. Even though we are nine boats, these boats are good, really, really good.' Racing concludes Sunday with the Bay Tour race. Following this, the St Francis Yacht Club will host the Rolex Trophy Ceremony where specially engraved Rolex timepieces will be awarded to the St. Francis Yacht Club's six Perpetual Trophy winners. Rolex Big Boat Series 2008 - Sept. 11-14, 2008 - Day 3 of racing, six races completed
Top 3 in each class
IRC A (9 boats)
1. Samba Pa Ti, John Kilroy, Jr, San Francisco, CA, 4-1-3-1-4-1, 14
2. Vincitore, Jim Mitchell, Zurich, SUI, 3-4-1-2-2-2, 14
3. Criminal Mischief, Chip Megeath, Tiburon, CA, 1-2-2-3-8-3, 19
IRC B (9 boats)
1. TNT, Brad Copper, Pt. Richmond, CA, 1-2-2-2-1-2, 10
2. Rancho Deluxe, Michael Diepenbrock, Newport, RI, 2-3-3-1-2-3, 14
3. Swiftsure, Sy Kleinman, Saratoga, CA, 5-1-6-3-4-1, 20
IRC C (8 boats)
1. TKO, Dave Kirby, Manhattan Beach, CA, 1-3-1-1-1-2, 9
1. Scorpio, John Siegel, San Francisco, CA, 2-1-3-3-5-1, 15
3. BustinLoose, Jeff Pulford, Monterey, CA, 5-2-4-2-2-3, 18
IRC D (13 boats)
1. White Dove, Mike Garl, San Francisco, CA, 2-1-5-1-2-1, 12
2. Tupelo Honey, Gerard Sheridan, San Francisco, CA, 1-4-6-2-1-2, 16
3. Inspired Environments, Timothy Ballard, Sausalito, CA, 5-6-4-7-6-5, 33
1D35 (7 boats)
1. Great Sensation, Mario Yovkov, San Francisco, CA, 3-2-2-1-2-2, 12
2. Diablita, Gary Boell, Brickyard Cove, 1-4-4-2-1-1, 13
3. Jazzy, Bob Turnbull, San Francisco, CA, 5-1-3-3-4, 18
Beneteau 36.7 (6 boats)
1. Mistral, Edward Durbin, Richmond YC, 2-1-1-1-1-3, 9
2. Summer And Smoke, Pat Patterson, Angwin, CA, 3-4-2-3-2-1, 15
3. Bufflehead, Stuart Scott, Richmond YC, 1-2-6-4-4-2, 19
Express 37 (10 boats)
1. Expeditious, Bartz Schneider, San Francisco, CA, 1-2-1-2-2-2, 10
2. Brown Sugar, Steve Brown, Santa Ana, CA, 7-3-3-1-4-1, 19
3. Golden Moon, Kame Richards, Alameda, CA, 2-4-2-4-1-11/RAF, 24
J/105 (31 boats)
1. Donkey Jack, Rolf Kaiser, San Francisco, CA, 2-4-2-4-6-2, 20
2. Good Timin', Phil Perkins, San Francisco, CA, 1-3-1-6-8-6, 25
3. Blackhawk, Scooter Simmons, Belvedere, CA, 8-1-12-1-1-8, 31
J/120 (8 boats)
1. Mr. Magoo, Steve Madeira, Northeast Harbor, ME, 3-1-2-2-5-2, 15
2. Chance, Barry Lewis, San Francisco, CA, 1-4-1-1-7-3, 17
3. J World, Wayne Zittel, San Francisco, CA, 4-7-7-3-1-4, 26
Melges 32 (9 boats)
1. Pinta, Michael Illbruck, Munich, GER, 3-4-2-1-1-6, 17
2. Full Throttle, John Porter, Lake Geneva, WI, 1-3-3-4-5-1, 17
3. RED, Joe Woods, Torbay, UK, 4-7-1-2-3-2, 19
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.