St. Francis Yacht Club is welcoming hundreds of skippers, crews, spectators and helpers back to San Francisco for the Rolex Big Boat Series. Racing in the 56th edition will start tomorrow (Thursday, September 16). The competitors are practicing, preparing, checking in and weighing in today.
Adapting to the New Normal
Last year, COVID-19 necessitated the cancellation of the series, along with scads of other high-profile events. This year, rather than waiting out the pandemic, we sailors, like others in so many walks of life, are learning to live with it. StFYC remained ready to pivot as needed at the advice of the club’s COVID Safety Task Force. Comprising the club’s leadership, management team, legal team and health experts, this group has been meeting weekly for more than 18 months, advising on the best health practices for club operations. “Our task force is extremely knowledgeable and has remained committed to the highest level of care for all who enter our doors,” said Commodore Bill Dana. Dana will compete in the ORR division with his Santa Cruz 52 Pinball Wizard.
“We have over 80 boats competing,” remarked Rolex Big Boat Series chair Susan Ruhne, “which is more than in 2019. So we feel confident that sailors are comfortable with the safety precautions we’ve taken. St. Francis Yacht Club’s venue is equally sublime inside and outside, which will allow us to safely host all skippers, crews, club members and guests.
“All socials will be held outside with ample space for sailors to mingle, enjoy food and beverages, and be within sight of the docks, the clubhouse and the Bay. Inside, we’ll be closely following health orders from the City and County of San Francisco.” That includes proof of vaccination to enter the building and mask wearing at all times while inside, except when actively eating and drinking. The club has installed enhanced facilities outside for competitors as well as expanded seating along the waterfront for spectators.
For Armchair Sailors
If you can’t attend in person, you can still experience the thrills vicariously by tuning in to a daily livestream of the finish line, starting at approximately 2:45 p.m. PDT and broadcast on the Rolex Big Boat Series Facebook page. San Francisco-based sailing journalist Kimball Livingston and Team USA member, sailing champion and broadcaster Genny Tulloch will serve as commentators. (Ross Tibbits profiled Genny Tulloch for the current issue of Latitude 38.)
“The daily downwind finishes can be spine-tingling to watch, with crews visibly giving their all and powering up the rigs to cross the finish line at top speed,” said Ruhne. “They pass so close to the clubhouse they can hear spectators cheering from shore.”