The average boatspeed — and pulses — of the Rolex Big Boat Series ticked up Thursday as its 2012 edition kicked off with the first-ever multihull division of seven boats blasting along in chilly 16-20 knot winds among a 66-strong total field of entries.
St. Francis Commodore Peter Stoneberg was all smiles as his ProSail 40 cat Shadow pulled a one-two result in the first two races. That puts him two points ahead of Tom Siebel’s Sig 45 Vamonos, with the bright orange hulls of Urs Rothacher’s SL33 BridgeRunner tied for third with Philippe Kahn’s blue-hulled Pegasus-MotionX, a Lightspeed 32.
The racing may have been the easiest aspect to it all for Stoneberg and the cats, as we’re sure it was a tough slog to choose courses and division rules. He couldn’t have been more pleased with the outcome so far.
It’s the 48th year of the series, and catamarans weren’t the only new bit. The IRC fleet stayed pumped up by electing to make RBBS their North American Championship. There are 24 boats entered in the IRC division, split between A, B, C, and D fleets. After stalwarts and newcomers mixed it up, we saw strong early leads with double bullets in each fleet: Jim Swartz’s TP 52 Vesper (IRC-A), Dan Woolery’s Soozal (IRC-B), Peter Krueger’s Double Trouble (IRC-C), and Gerard Sheridan’s Tupelo Honey (IRC-D).
The other twist is that the six IRC-C boats are being dual-scored with the new HPR rule. The idea is to better handicap the new generation of high-performance offshore-capable yachts, such as the Farr 400, between 36 feet and 44 feet in length. That tricky science will take a little discussion, no doubt. HPR scored the Farr 400 Rock & Roll in third versus fifth under IRC, pushing the J125 August Ice down to fourth and the 1D35 Alpha Puppy from fourth to sixth.
Among one designs, there’s a huge 21-boat J105 fleet, and seven familiar boats each in the J120 and Express 37 fleets. Racing starts at 11 a.m. each day. Check the website and look for a full recap of the Series in the October edition of Latitude 38 magazine.