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One month left to sign up for Rolex Big Boat Series

by St. Francis Yacht Club 1 Jul 20:14 BST September 15-19, 2021
J/105s competing on San Francisco Bay in the 2018 regatta © Daniel Forster / Rolex

Plans are under way for a full schedule of high-test racing and entertaining socials at the 2021 Rolex Big Boat Series set for September 15-19 at St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco.

As restrictions caused by the global pandemic continue to ease in the state of California, several dozen sailors are already signed up to race in this prestigious regatta, where Rolex Submariner watches will be awarded to skippers of select classes.

Regatta organizers recently amended the Notice of Race to include a Cal 40 class among the One Design fleets. Invited classes are:

  • Monohulls with an LOA greater than 30 feet and a current fully or partially measured ORR rating certificate;
  • Classic boats built prior to 1955 with an LOA greater than 48 feet and an ORRez rating certificate;
  • One Design boats of the J/105, J/88, J/70, J/120, Express 37 and Cal 40 classes.
"Cal 40s are legends on the West Coast racing circuit and there are several talented Bay Area skippers who race them. It will be stunning to see them compete again as a fleet," said Regatta Chair Susan Ruhne.

The event will also serve as the J/88 North American Championship and the Pacific Coast Championship for Express 37s.

"It'll be fierce. Our Express 37 fleet skippers are some of the best on San Francisco Bay. Our toughest tops are Kame Richard's Golden Moon, Jack Peurach's Elan and Bartz Schneider's Expeditious," said Sandy Wertanen, owner and skipper of Express 37 Eclipse, who will have several returning sailors aboard from her all-women crew of 2019. She's been racing in Rolex Big Boat Series since 2017, when she won the regatta just three weeks after purchasing the boat, and says the sheer thrill of competing in high winds and strong currents is addictive.

"There is no comparison. It's the most challenging buoy racing I've ever done in 30+ years of racing. I'm looking forward to staying upright on downwind legs like we did in 2019 and not blowing up any kites! I most look forward to the collective roars of laughter before and after each race, dining, drinking, dancing and socializing in the beautiful and historic St. Francis Yacht Club. We have so much fun on and off the water."

The 2021 running of Rolex Big Boat Series will see the return of Classic yachts for a second year, with Duane Hines' Rhodes 54 Ocean Queen, Beau Vrolyk's Alden schooner Mayan and Terry Klaus' Herreshoff schooner Brigadoon already signed up. "Seeing classic yachts racing in this venue, with the dramatic downwind finishes right in front of the clubhouse, is a real treat for spectators," said Ruhne.

For the Klaus family, who won the inaugural Classics division at the 2019 Rolex Big Boat Series, it's a thrill to race a legendary boat in a legendary regatta. "Racing Brigadoon has always been a family and friends affair. Adding the Rolex Big Boat Series to our schedule just brings our racing to a new level of excitement and performance," said Terry Klaus. "We have been racing Brigadoon for over 40 years and now the second generation of the original crew is carrying on the tradition."

His daughter, Lindsey Klaus, who helms the 50-foot schooner, added, "It has been an incredible journey growing up on Brigadoon with my father and I have always loved racing her. The added challenge of navigating a gaff-rigged schooner around San Francisco Bay, with its steady winds and strong currents, brings a sense of old school, salty accomplishment. Racing in Rolex Big Boat Series has not only bolstered that excitement, but raised our competitiveness to a whole new level."

Boats will compete in a total of seven races over four days, with two races per day for the first three days of racing, followed by Sunday's longer Bay Tour. All races feature a grand finale finish line in front of the StFYC Clubhouse.

Each evening will offer social gatherings for all participating boat owners and crew members, including the annual Rolex Owners Dinner on Thursday with an outstanding crew party that night, the legendary Friday Night Mount Gay Party, and the Saturday Crew Dinner.

"We're delighted to be able to host the full complement of racing and socials that make this regatta fun," said Adam Corpuz-Lahne, Senior Sailing Director of St. Francis Yacht Club. "So many talented sailors come to Rolex Big Boat Series and the fun for us is seeing them work their boats on our dynamic courses and in the challenging conditions of San Francisco Bay. It's going to be a great week to be on the water."

Ruhne confirmed that the 2021 RBBS will again be a Platinum-level Clean Regatta certified by Sailors for the Sea, continuing several years of sustainability initiatives for the event.

Registration is open until July 31, 2021, and sailors should feel confident that this premier regatta will be conducted with the utmost in health and safety practices.

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