This weekend sailing enthusiasts will gather in San Francisco for the 52nd annual Rolex Big Boat Series hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club. Taking place Thursday, September 15 -18, the boating event is the premier West Coast regatta. A fleet of more than 112 vessels—ranging from a 70-foot multihull down to a trailerable sportboat—will compete in three buoy-racing areas: Cityfront, Alcatraz, and the Berkeley Circle. Entrants hail from all over the world including Mexico, Brazil, Australia, and Chile. It’s the largest Big Boat Series ever and the 12th year that Rolex is the main sponsor. “We’re excited to be hosting a record number of entries at this year’s Rolex Big Boat Series,” race director Lynn Lynch told Haute Living. “In preparation, we’ve compiled a world-class race committee who’ll ensure that racing runs smoothly and is as fair and competitive as possible. In addition to our race professionals, we are organizing more than 100 volunteers who will help out on the race course. It’s incredible to think that more than 110 boats will be racing on the Bay. It’s a massive logistical challenge, but we’ll be ready for it.”
The largest boat in the fleet is Tom Siebel’s Orion, a 70-foot trimaran. Orion won first place in 2014, but was defeated by Randy Miller’s Marstrom 32 Miller Racing in 2015, so the two will duke it out to see who wins this year’s multihull class. Another class to watch is the Sportboat Class, which will feature an interesting mix of nine boats—the 29-foot J/88, 30-foot Soto 30, and 33-foot Flying Tiger 10M to name a few—that have yet to be rated. With unique characteristics, each vessel performs distinctly and the results of the race will depend on wind and weather conditions.
One of the things that makes the Rolex Big Boat Series such a thrilling competition are the Bay’s remarkable conditions. Alex Ropers, winner of the 2014 Richard Rheem Perpetual Throphy, explains it best: “This is one of the most spectacular venues in the world. The breeze is so ‘on’, the vistas are incredible, and with the organization of the St. Francis Yacht Club, this is an absolutely outstanding event.” Six trophies are awarded each year and the most coveted is the City of San Francisco Trophy. In 1968, the De Young Museum loaned the St. Francis Yacht Club one of two golden spades that were used to break ground for the Golden Gate Bridge in 1933. There is no other trophy like it in the world, which makes it the most desirable.
The sailing festivities begin on Thursday, September 15 with the first round of races and the Rolex Party. On Friday, races 3 and 4 will take place with the Mount Gay Cocktail event promising to be a raucous lawn party complete with rum cocktails, live music, and food trucks. Race 5 and 6 take place on Saturday and the regatta concludes on Sunday with race 7 and the Rolex trophy ceremony. Note that the first race of each day starts at 11 a.m.
Photo Credit: Kurt Arrigo/ROLEX