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Festival of Sails 2024 LEADERBOARD

Register now to receive optimal pricing for Rolex Big Boat Series

by St. Francis Yacht Club 2 Jul 08:54 PDT September 13-17, 2023
Rolex Big Boat Series © St. Francis Yacht Club

Skippers have one month to register to race in the 2023 Rolex Big Boat Series before a late entry fee of $250 is assessed.

Considered the most prestigious regatta on the West Coast with a history of legendary competition since 1964, Rolex Big Boat Series draws sailors from around the country and the world to St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco, California, for four days of high-test competition and highly fun social events. Scheduled for September 13-17, 2023, the following are invited to compete in this year's regatta:

  • One-design boats of the J/105, J/88 and Express 37 classes. Other classes with a minimum number of boats can be considered with application to the Organizing Authority.
  • Monohulls with an LOA = 30 feet. Boats with a General Purpose Handicap (GPH) of 560 or lower are required to have an Offshore Racing Congress (ORC) International certificate. Boats with a GPH higher than 560 may compete using either an ORC International Certificate or ORC Club Certificate.
  • Classic boats built prior to 1955 with an LOA = 48 feet and a current ORRez rating certificate.

Eligible boats may enter by completing the online entry form and paying the full entry fee by July 31, 2023. After that, an additional $250 late entry fee will apply.

View schedule

This year's regatta is already drawing a mix of past competitors and newcomers. Many veteran Rolex Big Boat Series racers are first heading offshore for the 2023 Transpac, including Greg Dorn's Dehler 46 Favonius, the J/125s Arsenal and Velvet Hammer, the Santa Cruz 50s Deception and Oaxaca, Bill Dana's Santa Cruz 52 Pinball Wizard and the custom Bill Lee 68 Merlin.

It's been a few years since Michael Moradzedeh's Oaxaca has raced in Rolex Big Boat Series, but he's committed to a swift return after Transpac. Just hours before hitting the starting line in the race to Hawaii, Moradzadeh said, "The crew is already looking forward to Big Boat Series. Our navigator, 63-time Pacific crosser John Jourdane, says he will have the boat back in San Francisco by August 1, so we'll have plenty of time to prepare. The hardest part, of course, will be adjusting to having more than one turning mark every 2,300 miles."

View 2023 Scratch Sheet

In addition to the perpetual trophies and Rolex timepieces contested by select fleets, this year Rolex Big Boat Series has the honor of awarding the Jesse L. Carr Perpetual Captain and Crew Trophy. Established in 1958 through a Deed of Gift to the Pacific Coast Yachting Association, this trophy recognizes the achievement of a sailing crew participating in a one-design portion of a larger regatta—in 2023, that will be the J/105 class competing at Rolex Big Boat Series.

"We're so pleased to be able to award the Jesse L. Carr Trophy this year to the top crew racing for a PICYA-member West Coast club," said Susan Ruhne, chair of Rolex Big Boat Series. "Skippers can't win without a hard-working and talented crew and it's very special to be able to award a trophy that recognizes that reality. We will have take-home trophies for every crew member to commemorate their excellence at the 2023 Rolex Big Boat Series."

Over the decades, as the trophy has made the circuit of various West Coast regattas and clubs, it's been won by several Rolex Big Boat Series competitors, including one of the regatta's founders, Robert C. Keefe.

Another highly anticipated award is the StFYC Rolex Big Boat Team Trophy, which is presented to the top-scoring three boats racing for the same yacht club, with one boat competing in the ORC fleet, one One-Design entry, and one additional entry from any class. The award debuted at the 2022 Rolex Big Boat Series and was won by San Francisco Yacht Club: David Halliwill's Peregrine, Randy Hecht's Niuhi and Don Jesberg's Viva. Two of that top-performing trio have already registered to return in 2023, along with several other veteran competitors from that club.

Crew and charter board

This dynamic regatta continues to draw newcomers, even in the oldest boats. The Classics fleet welcomes Alex Mehran's Gesture as a first timer to Rolex Big Boat Series but no stranger to competition—built in 1941 she raced competitively around the world and even faced off against Baruna, winner of the 1966 Big Boat Series with the above-mentioned Keefe running the bow.

"Gesture is Sparkman and Stephens design number 381 and shares a lot of history with Baruna and other yachts of her day. She won the 1946 Bermuda Race with owner Howard Fuller. Olin Stephens referred to her as one of his favorites and she is likely the last pre-war boat launched," said Mehran, who grew up sailing on San Francisco Bay has competed once at Rolex Big Boat Series, as crew on Tom Siebel's Vamanos in 2012.

"I am excited to get back out there on a beautifully restored classic. Gesture is probably the first non-planing boat that I have raced on the bay. The crew that Max Petrushonis has assembled is fantastic and after a lot of short-handed racing I am excited to sail with a team," said Mehran. Gesture has been undergoing a five-year restoration with Jeff Rutherford and all involved are looking forward to seeing her afloat.

"Five hundred years ago sailing was not a sport, it was a form of transportation," noted Mehran. "I love the innovation behind new composite and foiling boats, but keeping the tradition of wooden shipbuilding and restoration alive is extremely important for our sport. These yachts are celebrations of sailing's sporting history and of the women and men who commit their lives to keeping this trade and tradition alive. Including Classics in the Rolex Big Boat Series is really cool, and I appreciate that St. Francis Yacht Club, which is steeped in history, shares the passion and supports this type of racing."

Returning to race in the Classics is the 2023 Commodore of St. Francis Yacht Club, Beau Vrolyk, and his 1947 Alden schooner Mayan. "Each year we've added another beautiful Classic to the competition and our fleet has the honor of first to the bar after racing! Whether you're a new vessel or a Classic, I invite you to join us for racing on San Francisco Bay."

Register now to become a part of history at the 2023 Rolex Big Boat Series.

Notice of Race and Registration at rolexbigboatseries.com

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