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A Preview to Rolex Big Boat Series 2017
Welcome to the 2017 rendition of Rolex Big Boat Series, the St. Francis Yacht Club’s signature event and the premier West Coast regatta. The 53rd edition of this regatta welcomes 89 teams to San Francisco Bay, representing a wide range of boat-size, history and performance.

Rolex Big Boat Series 2017: A Preview

The 2017 rendition of Rolex Big Boat Series welcomes 95 entries, representing a wide range of boat size, history and performance. There will be six one-design fleets (J/70s, J/105s, J/125s, Farr 40s, Express 37s and Pac 52s), three ORR fleets, a PHRF Sportboat fleet and a Multilhull fleet. In total, thirty-three entries will fly the St. Francis Yacht Club burgee. Briefly, here is what to expect:

The J/105 fleet is stronger and more competitive than ever, with 24 boats entered. Leading the cumulative standings for the season are Ryan Simmon’s Blackhawk, followed by Phillip Laby’s Godot, Bruce Stone & Nicole Breault’s Arbitrage and Rolf Kaiser’s Donkey Jack. Godot finished 1st in RBBS in 2016, followed one point behind by Blackhawk. In the season leading up to the 2017 regatta, Bruce Stone and Nicole Breault’s Arbitrage won three regattas, Shannon Ryan and Rolf Kaiser’s Donkey Jack won two regattas, and Ryan Simmon’s Blackhawk and Adam Spiegel’s Jam Session each won one regatta. Past RBBS winner Phillip Laby’s Godot was on the podium and in contention at each of these events, which accounts for his high standing for the season. Two other strong teams often in the top five in a given race, but have not been consistent enough to win regattas, have been Jeff Littfin’s MoJo and Doug Bailey’s Akula. Right behind them to round out the top ten are Pat Benedict’s Advantage3, Theresa Brandner’s Walloping Swede, and Brent Vaughan and Paul Reyff’s Jabberwocky. Expect tight starts and competitive mark-roundings. 

All eyes will be on the Pac52s, as this will be the first time this fleet puts five boats on one starting line. The new design was revealed at the Rolex Big Boat Series in 2016 and the owner/driver class has grown rapidly since then. This is a “no second place” kind of fleet, and every skipper is racing to win.

The J/120s, Express 37s and Farr 40s have all been mainstays of the Big Boat Series over the past few years. We’ll see several returning winners including David Halliwill’s J/120 Peregrine and Michael Shlens’ Farr 40 Blade 2. Kame Richard’s Express 37 Golden Moon won the fleet in 2016 and will not race in 2017, opening that podium up for grabs.

The last time the J/70s were on the Bay en masse was in 2016 for their epic Worlds with nearly 70 competitors. This year, they bring 14 entries to Big Boat Series including Director Pamela Healy, racing Commodore Diepenbrock’s Wingman Racing with a crew of all StFYC Juniors.

In the running for most-miles-traveled are some notable ORR entries: Lorenzo Berho’s Kernan 70 Peligroso from Club Izar Valle de Bravo in Mexico; Michael Craven’s Hylas 54 Perseverance from Philadelphia, PA; and Richard Ferris’s J/125 August Ice, one of the largest race boats on Lake Tahoe. The ORR fleet will also welcome five J/111s, fresh from their Worlds hosted by St. Francis Yacht Club.

Rounding out the regatta are the PHRF Sportboat fleet stacked with J/88s, a C&C 30 and a Melges 32 and the Multihull fleet with two Extreme 40s and Tom Siebel’s Mod70 Orion.

RACING will take place Thursday, September 14 through Sunday, September 17,  with the first gun at 1100 hours each morning. Race Committee intends to hold seven races with a combination of windward-leeward races and Bay tours. 

PHOTO FINISH: The final race of each day finishes in front of the Race Deck around 1600 hours. Grab a beverage and watch nearly 100 boats finish! 

THE TROPHY CEREMONY is in the Starting Line Room and Courtyard around 1600 on Sunday, September 17, featuring a regatta wrap-up video followed by the presentation of trophies for all classes, highlighted by the six perpetual trophies and Rolex timepieces.

CLUB DINING has two notable adjustments: The Grill Room is serving a la carte lunch on Wednesday, September 13, while the Wednesday Yachting Luncheon speaker is in the Northwest and Golden Gate Rooms. On Saturday, September 16, the Main Dining Room is closed for Crew Dinners.

SWAG: The Rolex Big Boat Series Regatta Store is open daily from 0800–2000 in the Domino Room.

PARKING: All spots are first-come, fir-served. The East lot is reserved for members and trailers while the West lot is open to the public. Cars parked in a restricted zone, an event-specific reserved parking spot, or blocking access will be towed. Please don’t leave any valuables in sight when you leave your car.

Unaccompanied guests, whether participating in the regatta or sponsored by a member, must check in at the Front Desk upon arrival to receive a guest card and provide a credit card number for all charges incurred while at the Club. Visiting sailors and unaccompanied guests must have their guest cards on their person.

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