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Big Boat Series Revs Up

Ready to rumble. Starting tomorrow, 66 boats will compete in the 48th Rolex Big Boat Series.

© Rolex/Daniel Forster

With less than 24 hours until the first gun of the 2012 Rolex Big Boat Series, 66 boatloads of sailors are busy today making final preparations. Celebrating its 48th year, Big Boat competition will run Thursday through Sunday (September 6-9), with several new twists.

Wet toes are sometimes a liability of Big Boat racing on the Bay!

© Rolex/Daniel Forster

Perhaps the most notable change this year is the addition of a high performance catamaran class — this first-ever decision was inspired, we’re told, by the recent America’s Cup World Series competition here. The class includes a variety of designs more than 35 feet (with no limitations on technology and design). They’ll be handicapped using BAMA-issued PHRF ratings and will compete on courses similar to those used during the ACWS.

This year’s event also serves as the IRC North American Championship, in which 24 of the total fleet (in four divisions) will vie for top honors, and is expected to attract many of the country’s top racers. Also notable this year is the debut of the new HPR scoring system, developed to make racing in dissimilar light-displacement boats more equitable. Interestingly, boats will be scored by both IRC and HPR in an effort to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the new system.

Knock-downs and torn spinnakers are common most years. But if the predicted light air materializes, carnage could be minimized.

© Rolex/Daniel Forster

The wild card this year may be the weather. NOAA is predicting very light air — at least along the Cityfront — for both Thursday and Friday, with improving conditions over the weekend. But then, forecasters are often wrong. Besides, with several hundred sailors praying for good breeze, who knows what might result.

We’d encourage you to check out the action from your own boat, but please stay clear of boats that are obviously racing — regardless of right of way. And if you can’t get out on the water, be aware that races will be streamed live via the St Francis YC website (click the "webcam" button). As always, Big Boat action is a show you don’t want to miss.

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