Please select your home edition
Edition
J Composites 2022 - J45 LEADERBOARD

Classics class announced for the 2019 Rolex Big Boat Series

by St. Francis Yacht Club 24 May 2019 05:33 PDT 11-15 September 2019
The Alden-designed 59-foot schooner MAYAN will race in the Classics class - Rolex Big Boat Series © Chris Ray

The July 31 deadline to enter Rolex Big Boat Series is fast approaching, and a whole new class of boat is now invited to attend. The crown jewel of St. Francis Yacht Club's racing calendar since its inaugural 1964 event, this year fans and participants will witness boats racing on San Francisco Bay that are older than the regatta.

"StFYC is thrilled to welcome the Classics Class to this year's Rolex Big Boat Series," says Susan Ruhne, Chair of the 55thedition of the regatta, to be held September 11-15, 2019. The class is open to any boat built before 1955 and measuring longer than 48 feet on deck. "The Classics will compete in one race per day that will start and end off of StFYC's Race Deck," continues Ruhne. "This will give spectators ashore a real proximity to the boats and a sight that hasn't been seen at this regatta in years."

In addition to being historic, the racing is setting itself up to be as competitive as all the other classes competing in this high-level regatta, with well-known Bay Area wooden boats already registered, including Terry Klaus' 95-year-old Herreshoff schooner BRIGADOON and Daniel Spradling's 52-foot yawl BOUNTY.

"Up to the first warning signal, the Classics Class will be a bit more relaxed than other classes," says Beau Vrolyk, the owner and skipper of the Alden-designed 59-foot schooner MAYAN, built in 1947 and previously owned by David Crosby of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young fame. "But once the first gun sounds, I think we'll see the competitive juices flowing."

As for what, exactly, that entails, Vrolyk admits that this style of sailing differs widely from the Rolex Big Boat Series' IOR, IMS, IRC and ORR handicap classes in which he has previously competed. "Pushing these heavy Classics around the racecourse requires a return to arcane sailing techniques," he says. "They lack the advantages of modern winches, lines and sailcloth, so their crews compensate with size, determination, and strength."

Like other experienced Rolex Big Boat Series sailors, Vrolyk has long-since submitted his regatta registration and begun his preparations with a new non-ablative racing bottom job and a new fisherman staysail, the latter of which he specifically ordered for the regatta's expected racecourse. Additionally, he plans to compete in four Bay Area classic-yacht races as warm-ups, and he'll ask his sailmaker to evaluate MAYAN's gollywobbler, spinnakers and advance staysail to ensure that her inventory is ready to race. "We're really looking forward to lining up, varnished-rail-to-varnished-rail, with old friends aboard these beautiful classic yachts," says Vrolyk.

In addition to Classics Class competition, this year's Rolex Big Boat Series will see the return of the J/70 class, where the top Corinthian and Open boats will win entry berths to the 2020 J/70 Worlds. Plenty of fast guns in the regatta's numerous and always well-represented One Design and ORR handicap classes are also staging returns.

While Rolex Big Boat Series competitors have a long history of bringing their A-game to San Francisco Bay, MERLIN, the famous Bill Lee-designed 70-foot sled that was launched in 1977, will return to this year's starting line, after competing in Transpac, and intent on earning her way onto the winner's podium for the first time since 1980.

"San Francisco brings back such great memories and is one of the best cities to visit and sail. My hope is that there will be a lot of competitors and that a few more sleds will register for this classic race with a lot of classic yachts," said MERLIN's new owner and skipper, Chip Merlin, who is based in Tampa, Florida and flies both the Davis Island Yacht Club and the St. Petersburg Yacht Club burgees.

"MERLIN seems to have a big reputation everywhere and not on just the West Coast!" he adds. "I have never had so many 'friends' in the sailing world as I have since I purchased MERLIN. While I always thought of it as being special, there are a lot of people who feel the same way."

Ruhne concurred: "It will be a pleasure for many regatta participants and StFYC members to see MERLIN sailing here again."

While MERLIN's much-anticipated return to San Francisco Bay heralds back to a different chapter in the Rolex Big Boat Series' proud history, there's no question that the regatta has become a lot greener and more environmentally sensitive since MERLIN last competed. "We're not using bow stickers anymore," says Ruhne, explaining thatdespite competitors' best effortsthese placards typically peel off after a few days. "Rolex listened to competitors' requests and they made this positive change out of an environmental point of view. That's to be applauded."

Also, says Ruhne, StFYC is providing multiple new water-bottle refilling stations inside and outside the clubhouse and has fully implemented reusable or compostable hot and cold beverage service. "We're asking all sailors to do their part and reuse their water bottles," she says. "It can make a huge difference in our sustainability level over the course of the regatta. Our goal is to eliminate as much single-use plastic as possible from the regatta."

Interested skippers are reminded to register before the July 31 deadline.

For more information, please visit the Rolex Big Boat Series website.

Related Articles

Seawanhaka International Challenge Cup overall
Seawanhaka Corinthian YC triumphs over Royal New Zealand YS to bring the cup home to Oyster Bay After four days of racing, Seawanhaka Corinthian YC won the 2022 Seawanhaka International Challenge Cup 3-1 over Royal New Zealand YS to bring the Cup home to Oyster Bay, NY. Posted on 6 Jun
Seawanhaka Cup at LBYC day 3
All four semifinal teams tied at one win apiece The third day of the Seawanhaka International Challenge Cup came to a close after two flights of the semifinals were completed, leaving all four teams tied at one win apiece. Posted on 4 Jun
Seawanhaka Cup at LBYC day 2
Seawanhaka Corinthian YC undefeated after two days of racing Racing began late morning on Thursday with under 5 knots of shifty breeze for Day 2 of the Seawanhaka International Challenge Cup. Posted on 3 Jun
Seawanhaka Cup 48th edition ready to sail
Teams from nine international yacht clubs are assembled in Long Beach The excitement is coming to a head as the latest edition of the Seawanhaka International Challenge Cup for Small Yachts is ready to start. Teams from nine international yacht clubs are assembled in Long Beach to begin racing. Posted on 31 May
J/105 Women Skippers Invitational at St Francis YC
Short course, windward-leeward, three-race format in San Francisco The inaugural San Francisco J/105 Women Skipper Invitational took place this past Sunday on San Francisco Bay, hosted by St. Francis Yacht Club. Posted on 27 May
Young Bennet wins J/22 Match Race San Francisco
This achievement earned him an invitation to the US Match Racing Championship High school senior Connor Bennett won 13 out of his 14 matches in the US Match Racing Qualifier held at the St. Francis YC in the Club's evenly matched fleet of J/22s. Posted on 14 May
Seawanhaka Cup Invited Clubs announced
Larger and more international than at any time since the late 1980's The Long Beach Yacht Club is pleased to announce the invited competitors for the Seawanhaka International Challenge Cup to be held May 31 to June 5, 2022. Posted on 11 May
Early entries begin for 2022 Rolex Big Boat Series
What's on your regatta bucket list? May's flowers might be just arriving after April's showers, but serious owners are already finalizing their racing calendars for what promises to be sailing's most competitive racing season in years. Posted on 3 May
J/125 smokes Lightship Race
A close battle all the way around the race track in San Francisco The Lightship Race, the first of a 10-race series of the Ocean Yacht Racing Association of San Francisco Bay, kicks off the crewed offshore racing in Northern California. Posted on 2 May
Ryan Finn in '2 Oceans 1 Rock' attempt
Smallest boat to try the New York to San Francisco Solo Sailing Record After 92 days at sea, Ryan Finn is expected to arrive in San Francisco on April 20th, 2022 at Richmond Yacht Club on his 36' Proa design sailboat. Posted on 19 Apr
North Sails 2021 Innovation - FOOTERHella Dual Colour Floodlights - 728 x 90px - 004 gif BottomC-Tech 2021 America's Cup 728x90 BOTTOM