You couldn’t have asked for a more scenic day to wrap up the 2018 Rolex Big Boat Series on Sunday, with bright blue sky, flat water and colorful hulls and spinnakers. The flood current that dominated this regatta made for drawn-out beats and ultra-fast thrill-ride runs. Some reaching legs and jibe marks mixed things up from the routine windward/leewards, and the Point Diablo mark gave the racers a jaunt under the Golden Gate Bridge.
Friday was the one day with overcast; interesting cloud formations dotted the sky above San Francisco Bay, and the morning fog returned as the last boats were finishing Race 4. It was during Race 4 that John Clauser’s 1D48 Bodacious+ dismasted at the hounds (we hope to find out what happened in time for our report in the October issue of Latitude 38). Ironically this misfortune occurred on the least windy day.
Saturday’s racing saw the biggest breeze, with 20-25 knots and gusts tickling the 30-knot mark, and a wicked 3- to 4-ft chop challenged the racers. “I’d say these conditions are typical of San Francisco Bay, but the courses are so much longer that it’s testing people’s endurance,” said Jenn Lancaster, race director at host club St. Francis YC.
At the owners’ dinner on Thursday night, MC Kimball Livingston prevailed upon the ORR-A fleet members to bring along a junior sailor on Saturday and Sunday. "The juniors are used to sailing in heavy air, so the conditions weren’t eye-opening," said Dave MacEwen, skipper of the Santa Cruz 52 Lucky Duck, "but doing 17-18 knots downwind must have been different.” MacEwen said that the ORR-A owners were repaying childhood debts. “We need to encourage the kids to get into big boat sailing,” says MacEwen. “They’re the next generation.”
Going into Sunday’s seventh and final race, the traditional extra-long Bay Tour, some divisions were too close to call, others were all but decided, and some were a fait accompli. Family and friends cheered on the finishers from StFYC’s sunny rooftop deck. An awards ceremony in a tent on the East Lawn followed, with historically significant perpetual trophies, numerous take-home awards and five Rolex watches bestowed upon top finishers. See www.rolexbigboatseries.com for much more.