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Notice of Race posted for 54th edition of Rolex Big Boat Series

by Meredith Laitos 17 Feb 16:16 GMT 12-16 September 2018
Pac52s at the 2017 Rolex Big Boat Series © Sharon Green

While there's no question that strategy, tactics and boatspeed ultimately win sailboat races, onshore preparation also pays handsome dividends, especially when you're going up against the West Coast's best sailors. The St. Francis Yacht Club's Rolex Big Boat Series (September 12-16, 2018) is widely considered to be the Left Coast's most competitive regatta—a reputation that's burnished each September by San Francisco Bay's usually plentiful breeze, the StFYC's world-class racecourse management and an always-impressive entry list. A truism shared by many of the event's previous winners is that careful planning is key to taking home one of the event's six perpetual trophies and their accompanying Rolex chronometers.

For many dialed-in owners and teams, the planning process begins now, with a conversation identifying the team's goals and schedule for the season. From there, teams reverse-engineer the logistics. In an effort to help racers realize their season's best results, the StFYC has released the Notice of Race for the 54th edition of Rolex Big Boat Series and registration is now open, providing competitors an extra two months of chronological runway to prepare for what is rapidly shaping up to be a hyper-competitive regatta.

This year's list of invited classes includes ORR; PHRF sportboats; Farr 40s; Express 37s; J/105s; J/120s; J/111s; multihulls and the head-turning Pac52s, which made their Rolex Big Boat Series debut in 2017. The Pac52s are expected to enter even more boats this year, including Tony Langley's UK-flagged Gladiator.

"We've got J/105 owners who have re-joined the fleet after a few years off, new owners joining, and a pool of 'regulars'," said Rolex Big Boat Series Regatta Chair Susan Ruhne, who anticipates somewhere between 80 and 90 entrants including up to thirty J/105s. "For an all-amateur fleet, that is amazing."

Whether 2018 marks a team's Rolex Big Boat Series debut or a chance to win yet another engraved chronometer, attention to detail is key. "Teams should plan ahead to coordinate their travel, housing and transportation," advised Ruhne, who reminded competitors that renting a van or sorting out a storage alternative is wise given that gear cannot be stored on the club and city docks. "The more teams that register early, the better, as this helps our dockmaster create a dock plan that includes everyone."

While these considerations might seem minor compared to solidifying the crew, ordering new sails or scheduling bottom jobs, seasoned Rolex Big Boat Series competitors know that clearing micro-hurdles early will enable them to focus on strategy and tactics once the racing begins. Moreover, teams that register before June 1 take advantage of an early entry discount, while teams that register between June 2 and July 31 will pay the full-sticker price. Teams that register on or after August 1 will shoulder a late-entry fee.

Just as careful skippers will use the next seven months to polish their teams and steeds, the StFYC and Rolex are leveraging this time to ensure a world-class event that surpasses standards—no easy feat when 53 editions of this storied regatta have already successfully unfurled.

"We take pride in offering our competitors a great all-around experience, and we're adjusting our onshore schedule to provide an even better event for all sailors and their families," said Ruhne. This year's social calendar will include cocktail, crew, and Mount Gay-sponsored parties and will culminate with Sunday afternoon's completely revamped awards ceremony, which will be held on the club's east lawn and will feature a clam-shell stage and massive TV screens playing sizzle-reel imagery of the regatta's best moments amidst a roaring sound system.

All told, the Rolex Big Boat Series includes four scheduled days of racing and five nights of guaranteed partying, which represents one of sailing's best value propositions, especially when placed in the context of the event's world-class competition, ideal sailing conditions and attractive local culture and cuisine available for non-racing family members. "The StFYC makes our entire facility available to visiting crews," said Ruhne, adding that visiting sailors are welcome to use the club's locker rooms, bars and restaurants. "The Race Deck is a wonderful spot for family and friends to watch boats finish the last race each day, and we have bleachers on the deck where people can watch the stadium-style sailboat racing take place at one of the sport's original stadium-style regattas."

If you and your crew are considering entering the 54th edition of the StFYC's Rolex Big Boat Series, review the Notice of Race here and start planning your event early. Not only will it save money, but it will free up your afterguard to focus on strategy, tactics and boatspeed once the starting guns sound.

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