Rolex Big Boat Series, September 10-13, Event Couples As 2009 Melges 32 U.S. National Championship

3 September 2009

As release by Media Pro International - With one week until the start of the 2009 Rolex Big Boat Series, St. Francis Yacht Club (StFYC) Race Office is busy coordinating the many logistical details that accompany running one of the world's most-loved regattas. Racing this year is scheduled for September 10-13, and includes racing in seven one-design classes - 1D35, Beneteau 36.7, Express 37, J/105, J/120, Melges 32 and, for the first time, the Cal 40 class, as well as divisions for IRC-rated entries. At the conclusion of the four-day regatta, specially engraved Rolex timepieces will be awarded to the St. Francis Yacht Club's six Perpetual Trophy winners and to the overall IRC winner as the Rolex US-IRC National Champion. Although the Rolex Big Boat Series will be celebrating its 45th anniversary this year, another occurrence will take center stage, the StFYC's tribute to the late Tom Blackaller.

As is tradition for Rolex Big Boat Series, the classes that will compete for each of the StFYC's Perpetual Trophies will be kept a secret until they are announced at the Rolex Commodore's Reception on Wednesday, September 9. At the reception, hosted by StFYC Commodore John McNeill, the club will pay homage to Blackaller, a member of the StFYC who passed away in 1989, with a special presentation lead by Paul Cayard. "It just seemed logical to do something special to remember such a great personality and great sailor," said Cayard, a StFYC member who refers to Blackaller as his "sailing father, someone who had a huge effect on my sailing career".

As Cayard described Blackaller - known as much for his sailing accomplishments as his larger-than-life personality - he was an ambassador of sailing wherever he went. "Tom was the king of sailing on San Francisco Bay" continued Cayard. "He was a two-time Star world champion and America's Cup skipper, yet he still found time to race locally and to write for Bay and Delta Yachtsman every month. I know we have stars in sailing today, but I don't think we have ever had someone with as much star power as Thomas David Blackaller. He was ahead of his time and, unfortunately for us, he departed too soon."

Principal Race Officer John Craig and the StFYC Race Committee have mapped out a variety of courses on San Francisco Bay - from 8- 32 nautical miles - which will be run on two different areas, the City Front Course and North Course. Competitors race within view of the stunning San Francisco city front, Crissy Field, Alcatraz, Angel Island and the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge. Racing finishes each day in front of the StFYC, set upon the rocky shores of the Bay.

Defending Melges 32 class winner Full Throttle owned by John Porter (Lake Geneva, Wis.) returns to defend his title against class heavyweights Pegasus 32, owned by Philippe Kahn (Santa Cruz, Calif.), and class newcomer Rougarou, owned by Burton Benrud and Andy Lovell (New Orleans, La.). Calling tactics on the boat will be four time US Tornado Olympic sailor Johnny Lovell (New Orleans). Rounding out the crew are Scott Nixon (Annapolis, Md.) and John Bowden (Charleston, S.C.) from Quantum Sails, Jonathan Colarusso, Michael Danish and Karen Sproul. "We look forward to the chance to get the Melges 32 on a plane in the big breeze of San Francisco," said Benrud. "This is our first big outing and we could have not picked a better location. Look for the bright red boat on the water."

The St. Francis Yacht Club will officially welcome competitors on Wednesday, September 9 at the Rolex Commodore's Reception where the fleets competing for each of the six St. Francis Perpetual Trophies - Richard Rheem, St. Francis, City of San Francisco, Atlantic, Keefe-Kilborn Memorial and the Commodore's Cup - will be announced.

At the end of each race day, the St. Francis Yacht Club along with title sponsor Rolex will host a variety of social events including the Rolex Crew Reception on Wednesday and the Rolex Party on Thursday. Sonnen BMW will sponsor a reception on Friday in addition to the Mount Gay Crew Party. The regatta ends with Sunday's final Rolex Trophy Ceremony where specially engraved Rolex timepieces will be awarded to the St. Francis Yacht Club's six Perpetual Trophy winners, and to the winning skipper of the Rolex US-IRC National Championship.

For more information about the Rolex Big Boat Series, including entry lists and results, please visit

About St. Francis Yacht Club
Founded in 1927, St. Francis Yacht Club, within view of the Golden Gate Bridge, is a year-round host of over 40 regattas on San Francisco Bay. The club is renowned for its expertise in running world and national championships.