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What's on your regatta bucket list? Early entries begin for the 2022 Rolex Big Boat Series

by St. Francis Yacht Club 3 May 01:25 BST September 14-18, 2022
Rolex Big Boat Series © Sharon Green / Rolex

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.

For West Coast sailors and traveling teams, few regattas rival the annual Rolex Big Boat Series, hosted by St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco, California, this year scheduled for September 14-18, 2022. While StFYC organizes more than 130 on-the-water days of racing annually, Rolex Big Boat Series is the club's signature event and has a 56-year history of delivering some of the country's best keelboat racing. The NOR went live in late February, and all interested skippers are encouraged to register early to lock in preferred pricing and join StFYC in creating the best-possible event.

While part of the regatta's storied reputation comes from San Francisco Bay's breeze-on September conditions, the event also attracts competitors seeking to compete for an StFYC perpetual trophy and—for select classes—a coveted Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Chronometer timepiece. Factor in the Bay's iconic setting, StFYC's world-class racecourse management and the renowned post-racing socials, and it's no surprise that the Rolex Big Boat Series is a bucket list event for so many.

For all teams, signing up early also encourages more practice time, which could put a class win within reach.

"There's a rich history behind every perpetual trophy in this regatta," says Susan Ruhne, StFYC's Regatta Chair for the 2022 Rolex Big Boat Series. "Winning a class at RBBS is a serious accomplishment. It means you and your team survived seven races on San Francisco Bay, using your knowledge of these tricky waters to beat some great sailors."

This year, for the handicap classes it also means a new rating certificate. "We're excited to shift our handicap racing from ORR to ORC," says Ruhne, referring to the rules established by the Offshore Racing Congress. "This keeps us in phase with the country's other leading keelboat regattas. We'll likely have three ORC divisions, plus several One Design classes and the Classics. Owners who want to race in the ORC divisions are smart to get their ORC ratings early."

Ruhne advises that ORC certificates are due to StFYC's race office no later than September 1.

"Our club has successfully hosted 12 regattas already this season and we are really excited and optimistic about our upcoming Rolex Big Boat Series," says Peter Gilmore, StFYC's Commodore and a multi-generation club member. "My Cal 40 has already been registered, which gives us early incentive to get our crew lined up, get in some practice and make sure the boat is ready before things get serious."

Others agree.

"I've been the beneficiary of a lot of people working hard to host regattas that I've really enjoyed," says Nicole Breault, the USA's top-ranked woman match racer, a longtime StFYC member, and the tactician and mainsail trimmer aboard Arbitrage, the J/105 she owns with her husband, Bruce Stone. "More recently, I've been involved with running match-racing regattas and clinics, and I've seen that the organizers can host even better events if they have a clear idea of how many people are coming."

While Rolex Big Boat Series regularly delivers the caliber of racing that justifies trailering a boat across hundreds—or thousands—of bone-dry statutory land miles, J/105 sailors have another reason to compete in this year's regatta.

"The J/105 North American Championship is happening on the Bay a couple of weeks after Rolex Big Boat Series," continues Breault. "You'd better believe that all J/105 teams will use the Rolex Big Boat Series as a warm-up. Both events will showcase J/105 racing at its best."

So, if you've always wanted to compete against top racing teams on an iconic racecourse that's punctuated by Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge—or if you're a veteran who has always wanted your yacht's name etched on an StFYC perpetual trophy—make 2022 your year.

If you haven't yet committed, please be advised that early bird pricing expires on May 15; standard pricing expires on July 31 and late-entry pricing (read: financial penalty circles) applies to all entries made on or after August 1. For more information about the 2022 Rolex Big Boat Series, including the Notice of Race, the current entry list and the online entry form, visit rolexbigboatseries.com

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