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Registration Open for Rolex Big Boat Series

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With an eye toward expanding a Classics Division that saw marked interest and exciting race action in its inaugural year, the Rolex Big Boat Series will return to San Francisco Bay this year on September 17-20. St. Francis Yacht Club has posted the Notice of Race and is now accepting entries.

The J/120 Peregrine, competing in ORR C, prepares to start a race in 2019.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

The regatta looks forward to another impressive field of varied and experienced fleets, as skippers in designated classes vie to receive Swiss-made Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Chronometer watches.

Classic Division

“The Classics Division celebrates the origins of the Big Boat Series, which began in 1964,” says Paul Cayard, chairman of StFYC’s board.

Mayan with crew all dressed in orange
Mayan cut a colorful and classic figure in the 2019 Rolex Big Boat Series, the first to offer a Classic Division. Beau and Stacey Vrolyk’s 1947 Alden schooner led off the Classics Division registrations this month.
© 2020 Sharon Green / Rolex

The Classics Division will race the famed Bay Tour course once per day, with starts and finishes off the club’s race deck, one of sailboat racing’s most iconic settings, on the San Francisco Marina. “Today’s classic yacht owners are passionate about the history and beauty of their yachts, which should be celebrated by racing them,” adds Cayard, a 2019 participant in the Classics Division aboard the Rhodes 54 Ocean Queen.

One Design Classes

In addition to classic yachts, the Rolex Big Boat Series is open to One Design Boats in the J/105, J/88, J/70 and Express 37 classes. Notably, Rolex Big Boat Series 2020 also serves as the J/88 North American Championship, as well as the Express 37 Pacific Coast Championship, further upping the ante in these two divisions. The Express 37 class will be celebrating 30 years of participation.

“We’re excited to host both the J/88 NAs and Express 37 PCCs at the 2020 Rolex Big Boat Series,” says regatta chair Susan Ruhne. “We’re also ready to host another very strong J/105 fleet, and we’re looking for 30 or more boats to make up the most competitive J/105 division in any regatta on the West Coast.”

J/105s at the windward mark
The massive J/105 division is a tight-knit class. Here, the leaders of the pack approach the windward mark last September.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

The regatta is open to all One Design boats of the J/120, J/105, J/88, J/70, and Express 37 classes; monohull boats with an LOA ≥ 30 feet and a current fully or partially measured ORR rating certificate; and classic boats built prior to 1955 with an LOA ≥ 48 feet and an ORRez rating certificate.

The ORR System

“We’re continuing to work with US Sailing and the ORR system as a major part of Rolex Big Boat Series,” Ruhne says. The club hosted a gathering on March 5 for skippers and owners to meet with ORR officials and the StFYC race office.

ORR B start
An ORR B start last year.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Conditions permitting, StFYC will conduct a total of seven races. Everyone except the Classics will sail two races per day for the first three days of racing. On Sunday, all divisions will sail the longer Bay Tour course, featuring a grand finale finish in front of the clubhouse. This final finish is a favorite with spectators. Every evening of the regatta will feature social gatherings for all participating sailors.

Registration is open through July 31. Find the entry form here. Congratulations to Iris Vogel, whose New York-based J/88 Deviation was the first boat to sign up.


  1. Kohana 2 years ago

    Since when did Melges 32 become “The Big Boat Series” I remember Windward Passage and Kialoa. Those were big boats. I also remember when we had a 43 foot boat and had to get a waiver to compete because we were so “small”.

    • Christine Weaver 2 years ago

      Times change; boats change; the interests of the best sailors change. The RBBS has evolved with the times. The Melges 32s may not be stately, but they are fast and fun, thrilling to watch.

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