Poised for a Show on San Francisco Bay

14 September 2010

With racing set to start Thursday (Sept. 16), the 46th annual Rolex Big Boat Series, hosted by California’s St. Francis Yacht Club, is setting up to showcase major sailing talent along with some sweet IRC and One-Design action over four days of competition on San Francisco Bay. Of 99 boats signed up, 26 are IRC (handicap racing) entrants, which will be further divided by rating into four classes, one of which is the newly featured light displacement--read super-fast--sport boat class. The balance of the fleet is comprised of one-design (single type) boats, with the Melges 32s leading in entrants at 27.  Not far behind, however, is the J/105 class with 24 entrants, followed by J/120s (8 entrants), Express 37s (8), and One Design 35s (6).

Preview to the Worlds: Melges 32s

The large turnout in Melges 32 class can be attributed in part to that class’s World Championship, scheduled to follow immediately on the heels of the Rolex Big Boat Series and also to be hosted by St. Francis Yacht Club. Among the teams signed up for what is being dutifully called the Melges 32 “Pre Worlds” is Doug Douglass’ (Stamford, Conn.) Goombay Smash, with two-time Olympic bronze medalist Charlie McKee serving as tactician before America’s Cup veteran Russell Coutts steps on for the Worlds.

Goombay Smash is new for Douglass, better known for his class successes on a Farr 40 of the same name, and the Pre-Worlds will be his team’s first time sailing this boat in a regatta. According to mainsail trimmer Marco Constant, getting the boat up to speed was a chore, since it had been taken out of racing configuration, but he was confident of the resin in the crew mix: a core team, including Douglass and himself, that has sailed together plenty on the Farr 40. 

“Two different techniques, two different styles, two different schools of sail,” said Constant about the feisty Melges 32s vs. the more predictable Farr 40s. “Both take an extremely high amount of finesse to sail, but the Melges 32s take less wind to get going on a plane.” He added that with San Francisco Bay’s predictably high winds during September, that single trait is sure to be good for the show.

Charlie McKee will meet his brother Jonathan play-for-play when the latter McKee takes his position as tactician aboard John Porter’s (Winnetka, Ill.)Full Throttle. Jonathan McKee, also a two-time Olympic medalist, has a Melges 24 World Championship to his credit and will have as his crew mates another set of brothers: Vincent and Corbett Porter, sons of the skipper.

Among the other headliners, Pieter Taselaar’s (Scarsdale, N.Y./Newport, R.I.) Bliksem team will perhaps be the most watched. As reigning world champions, they should match up well with Luca Lalli’s Italian entry B-Lin Sailing, which just won the 2010 Audi Melges 32 Sailing Series and has such notables aboard as two-time and reigning Melges 24 World Champion Lorenzo Bressani along with Federico Michetti, who has won the worlds a record three times, twice with Bressani at the helm.

Viewer Friendly

The St. Francis Yacht Club is considered one of the world’s most spectacular venues for sailboat racing, with the club perched high on the shore of San Francisco Bay, where spectators can watch boats chase one another to the finish line set between a special mark and the yardarm atop the club’s second-floor Race Deck.

Competitors, friends and fans can follow the regatta through the event website http://www.rolexbigboatseries.com. With streaming blogs and race results direct from the race course, GPS-based boat tracking, live video, sailors interviews and daily highlights videos, all of the site’s information will stream to the website courtesy of the StFYC’s recently launched WiMax network.

Rolex Big Boat Series is part of the Rolex Yachting Portfolio that includes over 20 world-class sailing events that take place around the world including the Rolex Miami OCR, Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, Rolex Fastnet Race, Rolex Farr 40 World Championship, New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex, and the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

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.

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