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Breeze on From the Get-Go at Rolex Big Boat Series

“Today was pretty high winds: 25-27 knots,” said John Egleston when we talked with him at the St. Francis Yacht Club docks yesterday evening following the first day of racing in the Rolex Big Boat Series. The Eglestons and their crew sail the sleek black 56-ft 1928 P Class cutter Water Witch.

Water Witch crew
The crew of Water Witch, with owners Gena and John Egleston seated in front. They sail with a crew of 10-15, with 12 declared on their RBBS entry.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

“I pulled into the parking lot this morning and there was breeze, so we knew we weren’t going to have a postponement, and we didn’t,” said Cam Tuttle, pit on the Dehler 46 Favonius. He called it a “super-pretty day.”

Favonius and Chance
Greg Dorn’s Dehler 46 Favonius squeaks past Barry Lewis’s Chance in Race 2. Close one!
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

The Classics division was back with five entries. They have one race each day, starting and finishing in front of the St. Francis. (Other divisions have two races a day, Thursday-Saturday, and one Bay Tour on Sunday.) Michael Zolezzi’s 8-Meter Yucca, with Hank Easom at the helm, finished first, but Beau and Stacey Vrolyk’s 60-ft 1947 Alden schooner Mayan was hot on her heels.

Yucca crew
The crew of Yucca back at the dock.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Synthia Petroka, sailing aboard Mayan, told us that their one race, on the second-longest course available, took about two hours. “Nice to be out there in so much wind. We set the kite three times. There were seven legs altogether, 11.7 miles. When we got up to the mark at Cavallo Point [Sausalito], the mark had gone walkabout. We were seeing this temporary mark over here, then we saw a mark on a race committee boat. They were zooming up as Yucca and us were neck and neck looking for the mark. They [the race committee boat] got there and set it, and we rounded. The race was very exciting. We were so close with Yucca the whole time. We were a schooner short-tacking up the Cityfront. Thankfully, I wasn’t trimming any of the upwind sails,” she said with a chuckle.

The Classics start
The Classics start at 1:05 p.m., right in front of the club for the enjoyment of spectators.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

“Our mid-deck crew did an awesome job,” continued Synthia. “I’ve heard that Yucca owes us time, but I looked through all of the race instructions and it doesn’t show our ratings. We changed our sail configuration to less sail area so presumably we got a bit more of a favorable rating. But Yucca also went from a masthead to a fractional spinnaker, so hard to say. Last year, Mayan and Yucca were leading the pack and duking it out. This course really put us through the paces. It was fun!”

Spindrift V crew
Another boat with two bullets was Andy Schwenk’s Spindrift V. Andy is front and center in the Hawaiian shirt, but he’s not sailing due to his recent foot infection and surgery. However, he pulled up to the dock with a walker, not a wheelchair, even putting a bit of weight on the injured foot. He looked quite nimble when he climbed aboard his Express 37. Bart Hackworth is taking the skippering duties. He said he hasn’t sailed in this regatta in 24 years.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Aboard Chip Merlin’s Merlin, the Bill Lee 68 sled, foredeck crew Dale Scoggin recounted some mishaps. “The first race we did everything well as far as boat handling, tactics, then afterward we heard on the radio the second-place boat Adjudicator protesting Merlin for sailing around the wrong second windward mark. The Fort Mason buoy was the actual mark. We went around another buoy that we assumed was the mark. Then we re-read the description and realized that is was the yellow can, actually.”

Adjudicator
Paul Dorsey’s Adjudicator was among the boats with two bullets on Thursday. Organizers split the ORC entries into two divisions, with the planing boats, such as this Fast 40, comprising ORC A.
© 2022 Daniel Forster / Rolex

Merlin’s troubles become more serious in Race 2. “In the second race, our spinnaker halyard got wrapped around the top of the forestay. We didn’t notice at the time, but it chewed the forestay down to three strands. We could have lost the rig. When we came around the leeward mark, we couldn’t get any tension. ‘What’s going on here? We can’t get any forestay tension.’ They were putting on backstay, saying, ‘Something’s wrong.’ So we took everything down. Now we’re talking to a bunch of different riggers to come and replace the whole forestay overnight. Hopefully we’ll get that replaced and we’ll be back in action for the rest of the regatta. It’s very nice going through the water. Because of the flood, it’s so flat out there, and the boat tracks upwind so nicely.”

The yacht designer Bill Lee himself is sailing aboard Mayan.

Lucky Duck crew
The crew of Lucky Duck, with skipper Dave MacEwen in front in the gray jacket. The team had planned to race the Rogers 46, also named Lucky Duck, in this regatta, but that Duck was not so lucky. She dismasted in the Coastal Cup at the end of May. (She’s still waiting for her new rig.) At 30 feet, the sporty J/90 is just barely eligible for RBBS.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris
Elyxir crew
The crew of the SC52 (plus a couple of non-racing family members).
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

“It’s the most exciting regatta in the United States,” said Skip Ely, up from Santa Cruz again with his family’s Santa Cruz 52 Elyxir. “Sailing underneath the Golden Gate Bridge and on the San Francisco Cityfront in 20+ knots of wind — it doesn’t get any more exciting than that.”

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