Please select your home edition
Edition
KZRaceFurlers

2019 Rolex Big Boat Series at St. Francis Yacht Club - Day 2

by St. Francis Yacht Club 13 Sep 19:20 PDT 11-15 September 2019
Crews focused to make the most of the wind during Friday's sole race - 2019 Rolex Big Boat Series © Rolex / Sharon Green

Generally speaking, Fridays that fall on the 13th don't enjoy a strong reputation for events unfurling smoothly, and when it coincides with hot, onshore temperatures in San Francisco, the situation on the Bay can become light, patchy, or even downright breathless. Such was the case today for the 79 yachts and crews that have gathered at St. Francis Yacht Club to contest the 55th edition of Rolex Big Boat Series (September 11-15, 2019).

The morning dawned bright, blue and warm, with barely a cat's paw aggravating the Bay. While this certainly wasn't the lucky start that many competitors were hoping for at a regatta that does not drop races, the day's silver lining was a weather forecast that promised breeze by mid-afternoon. The AP flag remained hoisted with sailors idling ashore until 1400 hours, when enough sea breeze arrived to allow the race committee to score a single race.

"The high temperatures ashore make it difficult to run races," said Graham Biehl, StFYC's Race Director, noting that today played out much like the first day of racing at this high-level event, with a single—albeit high-quality—race scored in all eight fleets. "But the good news is that Saturday and Sunday look to be typical San Francisco Bay conditions."

Competitors made the most of the onshore postponement, but perhaps no crew earned as many style points as some members of skipper Dave MacEwen's Santa Cruz 52 Lucky Duck (USA 28729), who took turns cruising past the clubhouse riding a surfboard towed astern a power yacht flying the team's colors.

Once the AP flag dropped, however, all tomfoolery ceased and the Rolex Big Boat Series race-faces emerged from dry storage. This was especially evident in the ORR handicap classes, which saw action on the Alcatraz Island starting area sailing a 10.1 nautical mile course, specifically selected from StFYC's library of 43 different Rolex Big Boat Series courses based on its modest distance.

"Last year we lost our mast in race four," said Bobbi Tosse, who is serving as navigator aboard John Clauser's One Design 48 Bodacious+ (USA 48005). "It seems that each prior year there has been something we broke that took us out of trophy contention. So, this year our hopes are to have fun and not break anything major!" Bodacious+ was fortunately spared any Friday the 13th calamities, but Tosse was clear about what she and her fellow shipmates are up against in the highly competitive ORR-A class. "As far as I can see looking at the crew lists, we're the only ORR-A boat without any professional, Group 3 sailors," he said. "We're all Group 1, and we plan on prevailing using old age and guile."

While a smart tactic for Bodacious+, other boats in the ORR-A class have different ambitions for the regatta. "The boat is brand new," said Ashley Perrin, a veteran Rolex Big Boat Series competitor and captain aboard Gregory Dorn's Dehler 46 Favonius (USA 38125), which is making her Rolex Big Boat Series debut. "We're a young campaign so it would be great to have a steady improvement of results over the series, and being in the top one-third of the fleet would be really great."

As for the curveballs that Mother Nature has been throwing at the 2019 fleets, Perrin made it clear that she doesn't blame the dearth of wind on the calendar date. "The conditions can vary dramatically at the Rolex Big Boat Series and it's always satisfying if you can sail well in light air and heavy air."

Skip Ely's Santa Cruz 52 Elyxir (USA 28474) corrected out on top of Ray Paul's Swan 53 Blue (USA 61522) and Lucky Duck in ORR-A and, after a total of two races, Blue sits in first place overall, followed by Favonius and Elyxir.

Competition was likewise plenty stiff in ORR-B. "It's a competitive fleet and the boats are exciting, with sport boats and sport-boat-like boats, so it attracts some great talent," said Rich Jepsen, who is serving as vice president of US Sailing and as tactician aboard Dick Swanson's J/111 Bad Dog (USA 103). "We're an amateur crew, so we'll be happy to stay in contact with the best boat, which I think will be Kuai, the Melges 32, and there's another J/111 that we spar with, Swift Ness."

Staying in the hunt is also the name of the game aboard Flying Jenny (USA 24), skipper Sandra Askew's brand-new IC37. Unlike most of the ORR-B fleet, the 2019 edition of StFYC's signature Rolex Big Boat Series marks a series of firsts for Askew, including her first time racing on the Bay. "My crew is very competitive and we want to do well but it's a brand-new boat and this is our first regatta with her, so we're excited to see how she goes against the other boats in the fleet."

Once the finishing guns fell silent and the handicap corrections applied to finishing times, Daniel Thielman's Kuai (USA 7676) delivered the day's best ORR-B performance, followed by Paul Dorsey's Soto 30 Gentoo (USA 001) and Mark Kennedy's Melges 32 Nuckelavee (USA 174). This puts Kuai in first place overall for ORR-B, followed by Gentoo and Nuckelavee.

C lags behind A and B alphabetically, but this does nothing to diminish the level of competition in the ORR-C class, which is competing for the StFYC's prestigious Richard Rheem Perpetual Trophy and one of the regatta's four coveted Rolex timepieces.

"The ORR-C class competition always changes a little each year," said Thomas Furlong, skipper of the Swan 42 Elusive (USA 4216). "There are always well-sailed boats in the class. Some of these boats have proven themselves in Bay conditions, and, as well-sailed boats that are optimized to the Bay's challenging conditions, they're stiff competition."

Others agree. "We've got two very competitive J/120s and a SunFast 3600 that's well-sailed," said Gerard Sheridan, skipper of the Elan 40 Tupelo Honey (USA 28908), about this year's ORR-C class. "And it's nice to see the new addition of Raven, Brice Dunwoodie's C&C 115—they're welcome in the fleet, and they're pretty fast downwind."

When asked about his thoughts on racing sailboats on a rather inauspicious calendar date, Sheridan made clear that he would happily sail offshore with bunches of bananas aboard. "I'm not superstitious at all," he said with a smile. "If someone wants to believe, maybe they can make that work for or against them, but I don't believe it!" After all, it should be noted that Sheridan and crew blew up their kite yesterday, Thursday the 12th, not Friday the 13th.

All told, Elusive proved to be the quickest horse around ORR-C's course, followed by Barry Lewis' J/120 Chance (USA 28484) and David Halliwill's J/120 Peregrine (USA 25487). Big-picture, Peregrine is perched in first place overall, followed by Chance and Elusive.

Racing continues tomorrow, Saturday, September 14, with two planned races and a significantly improved forecast, followed by Sunday's scheduled long-form Bay Tour course.

For more information and full results, please visit the Rolex Big Boat Series' website.

Related Articles

Transpac Tahiti Race Commodore's Challenge
Calling all Commodores: Get a free trip to Tahiti! The Transpacific Yacht Club (TPYC) created the Tahiti race almost 100 years ago in 1925, and it has been run only 15 times in this time. The most recent editions were in 2008, with 5 boats, and in 2012, with 2 boats. Posted on 7 Oct
2019 Kilroy Realty U.S. Match Racing Championship
Pearson Potts retains the Prince of Wales Bowl The Kilroy Realty U.S. Match Racing Championship in San Francisco Bay started with two days of long postponements that yielded what chief umpire Glenn Oliver termed "champagne conditions." T Posted on 7 Oct
Kilroy Realty U.S. Match Racing Championship day 2
The field of eight is down to four Shortly before the Saturday morning competitors' briefing at the Kilroy Realty U.S. Match Racing Championship, the San Francisco area experienced a 3.5-magnitude earthquake. Posted on 6 Oct
Kilroy Realty U.S. Match Racing Championship day 1
Patience a virtue in San Francisco Bay When racing began at midday Friday in San Francisco Bay after a two-hour delay, Team Potts posted six victories from seven matches, returning to the docks of host St. Francis Yacht Club with the lead after Day 1. Posted on 5 Oct
U.S. Match Racing Championship preview
Top men's and women's match racers to compete in San Francisco The 52nd U.S. Match Racing Championship features eight talented teams comprised of both men and women skippers and crew, who will race over three days for the coveted Prince of Wales Bowl. Posted on 1 Oct
Rolex Big Boat Series at San Francisco overall
Fastest guns in the west decided Cool onshore temperatures, ebbing fog, flooding waters and a gathering sea breeze greeted the 79 teams gathered on San Francisco Bay to contest the final day of racing at the 55th edition of the St. Francis Yacht Club's annual Rolex Big Boat Series Posted on 15 Sep
Rolex Big Boat Series at San Francisco day 3
The breeze is back at the third day After two days of light-air racing, Mother Nature finally flipped the fun switch on day three of the 2019 Rolex Big Boat Series, giving all 79 competing teams the kinds of big-air grins that make San Francisco Bay a truly world-class sailing venue. Posted on 15 Sep
Rolex Big Boat Series at San Francisco day 1
Practicing patience and anticipating breeze If nature abhors a vacuum, sailors have detested windless conditions since the days of ancient mariners. Fortunately for the 79 boats gathered on the waters of San Francisco Bay to contest the 55th edition of Rolex Big Boat Series Posted on 13 Sep
Battle flags hoisted at 2019 Rolex Big Boat Series
War is inevitably messy, but few battlegrounds are as civilized War is inevitably messy, but few battlegrounds are as civilized as St. Francis Yacht Club and its docks on the eve of the 55th edition of its annual Rolex Big Boat Series (September 11-15, 2019) Posted on 12 Sep
Celebrating the 2019 J/70 World Champions
Latest Sail-World newsletter from David Schmidt in the USA The 2019 J/70 World Championship offered nail-biting excitement that saw some of the world's best skippers and sailors line up to determine top bragging rights on the waters off of the Royal Torbay Yacht Club, which is in Torquay, United Kingdom. Posted on 10 Sep
Marine Resources 2019 - FooterNorth Sails 2019 - NSVictoryList - FooterPandB 2019 Autumn Sale - Footer