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2023 Rolex Big Boat Series at St. Francis Yacht Club - Day 3

by Rolex Big Boat Series 17 Sep 2023 06:05 BST
2023 Rolex Big Boat Series © Sharon Green /

"Champagne sailing" is not the norm on San Francisco Bay. It is highly unusual to have a run of light weather in September, or to even have a run of days with the same weather. But sailors saw more of the same during the third day of racing at the 2023 Rolex Big Boat Series: a low marine layer with light and variable winds from the west-southwest.

In several classes, abnormal conditions made for unexpected shakeups as well as extremely tight standings going into the final day of racing.

In the Classics, for instance, today's standings wrapped up with the top three boats—Yucca, Gesture and Mayan—all tied for first with impressively small deltas: three seconds between 1st and 2nd and 22 seconds between 2nd and 3rd.

"Now I'm going to spend my whole night wondering how I lost those three seconds!" said Commodore Beau Vrolyk, skipper on Mayan.

Fair handicaps create close racing in ORC

The handicap ratings in the ORC classes are not fixed, but vary according to the wind strength and the type of course sailed. This is done to recognize the inherent differences in performance among the many different boat types here at Rolex Big Boat Series to produce fair racing.

Today's Medium-rated wind conditions were a repeat of yesterday, and close results all mirrored the previous day. In ORC C, Tom and Cam Hutton's J/100 H-Pod and Peter Wagner's J/111 Skeleton Key are racing neck and neck. Yesterday H-Pod won both races by only two and then seven seconds. Today they trailed Skeleton Key by 17 seconds after 1.5 hours of racing, and then won the second longer race by 56 seconds after 2.5 hours of racing.

"Our class is an amazing testament to ORC ratings," said Tom Hutton. "We have had three races wherein H-Pod, as the slowest boat by handicap, has finished within a few seconds of Skeleton Key, the fastest boat by rating and boat speed. We both had similar starts and sailed in similar waters in clear air. Amazing."

Going into tomorrow's final day Skeleton Key leads the class by 4 points after 6 races.

Likewise, in ORC D there was actually a tie in corrected time for 4th place in today's first race between Robert Walden's Cal 39-2 Sea Star and Mike Mahoney's Tartan 101 Story Maker. Moreover, the points gap between the class leader, John Arens's J/109 Reverie, and the runner-up Don Jesberg's Cal 40 Viva, has closed to only 2 points.

In other ORC Classes the leaders are continuing to do well: Shepard Kett's Santa Cruz 50 Octavia has all bullets in six races in ORC A, and Marc Morris on Cape 31 M2 earned a 2-1 today to open up a 5-point gap with the class runner-up Cape 31, Dirk Freeland's Full Send. It's also notable that Daniel Thielman's Melges 32 Kuai earned their first bullet of the series in today's first race with a defeat of M2 by a little over one minute in 1.5 hours of racing.

One Design

The J/105 podium remains an absolute wild card. Ryan Simmons' Blackhawk is still holding on to first but has yet to score a bullet. Bruce Stone and Nicole Breault's Arbitrage has a first in their score line and are hot on Blackhawk's heels, with Mojo just a stride behind. Any small shift, decision or mistake could easily shake up these standings.

Christos Karamanolis' Pelagia picked up two more firsts in the J/88 class and sits five points ahead of Brice Dunwoodie's Ravenette.

Shawn Ivie's Limitless has a lock on the top podium spot in the Express 37 fleet, with the runner-up boat 17 points behind and just one race left to contest the champions of the 2023 Rolex Big Boat Series.

Crew dinner - Fueling up before 2023 Rolex Big Boat Series Grand Finale

Following the racing action, classy dresses, jackets and ties replaced the foul weather gear. Competitors gathered for the Crew Dinner at the Main Dining Room of St. Francis Yacht Club - had the time to relax and exchange experiences from the racecourse. A strong sense of camaraderie permeated the sailors at the dining tables, replacing the previously dominant atmosphere of fierce competition out at sea.

Sunday's Grand Finale will determine the final winners for each class. Crews will race on the traditional single long-course Bay Tour. The Trophy Ceremony will be the perfect ending to this year's Rolex Big Boat Series.

After day 3, here are the standings:

Classics (6 entrants)

  • 1st: Yucca
  • 2nd: Mayan
  • 3rd: Gesture

J/105s (31 entrants)

  • 1st: Blackhawk
  • 2nd: Arbitrage
  • 3rd: Mojo

J/88s (8 entrants)

  • 1st: Pelagia
  • 2nd: Ravenette
  • 3rd: Butcher
Express 37 (8 entrants)
  • 1st: Limitless
  • 2nd: Spy vs Spy
  • 3rd: Expeditious

ORC A (7 entrants)

  • 1st: Octavia
  • 2nd: Bacchanal
  • 3rd: Saoirse

ORC B (7 entrants)

  • 1st: M2
  • 2nd: Full Send
  • 3rd: Kuai

ORC C (6 entrants)

  • 1st: Skeleton Key
  • 2nd: H-Pod
  • 3rd: Chance

ORC D (6 entrants)

  • 1st: Reverie
  • 2nd: Viva
  • 3rd: Bloom County

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