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51st Big Boat Series celebrates 10th anniversary with Rolex Watch USA

51st Big Boat Series celebrates 10th anniversary with Rolex Watch USA

Each September for the last 50 years, hundreds of sailors have flocked to the Rolex Big Boat Series in San Francisco, Calif. for some of the best racing offered in the U.S., if not the world.

From this perspective, the 2015 regatta, scheduled for September 17-20 at St. Francis Yacht Club, will be no different than previous Rolex Big Boat Series, but adding poignancy will be the fact that the 51st edition of the Series will mark the 10th anniversary of Rolex Watch U.S.A. as its title sponsor, which is a strong indicator of a legacy that will endure.

Having Rolex as a sponsor has brought a unique and elevated level of notoriety to this event,’ said Regatta Co-Chair Susan Ruhne. The St. Francis Big Boat Series was established in 1964, and after many years as a supporting sponsor, Rolex was named title sponsor in 2005. ‘Over the past decade we have seen the Rolex Big Boat Series transform into the internationally renowned regatta that it is today, attracting sailors from not only the region but also across the continent and abroad.’ 

The regatta stays on the cutting edge of sailing by continually adding new classes and championships to its lineup. For instance, this year adds a new PHRF sport boat class, for 35- to 40-foot boats, to the mix of ORR (added last year), HPR (for ‘Fast 40s’), Multihull and One-Design class racing.

51st Big Boat Series celebrates 10th anniversary with Rolex Watch USA

Bernard Girod’s Farr 400 Rock & Roll Racing in HPR during the 2014 Rolex Big Boat Series – Rolex Big Boat Series’ © Rolex/Daniel Forster


The Rolex Big Boat Series’ reputation for high-caliber racing and its constant evolution with the sport of sailing are why we see such an impressive turnout year after year,’ said Ruhne. She added that the event originated ‘stadium sailing’ by building its courses to utilize the amphitheater setting of San Francisco Bay, using key vantage points that include the race deck of the yacht club itself. 

Specially engraved Rolex timepieces are awarded to winners of the coveted perpetual trophies (St. Francis, City of San Francisco, Richard Rheem, Keefe-Kilborn, Atlantic and Commodore’s Cup) that remain on display at St. Francis Yacht Club.

J/105 Class President and Rolex Big Boat Series veteran Bruce Stone (San Francisco, Calif.) is looking forward to this year’s event more than ever, as it will double as the J/105 North American Championship. He has been competing at this event with his J/105 Arbitrage since 1999 and has won his class on numerous occasions, including last year. 

‘I am excited that my home club will be hosting this year’s North Americans,’ said Stone, explaining that the class rotates the event to different parts of the continent each year. San Francisco expects approximately 30 J/105s to compete in 2015. ‘This is always a challenging regatta with a wide variety of race courses, not just windward-leeward, so it will be a great test of seamanship and navigational skills for our class.

Stone said that at many regattas, sailors show up, race and go home, but at the Rolex Big Boat Series competitors interact on the docks and at the event parties, which boosts camaraderie. ‘Having Rolex as a sponsor is a huge draw, and it helps ensure extremely high quality resources and events, said Stone. 

51st Big Boat Series celebrates 10th anniversary with Rolex Watch USA

J105 Class President Bruce Stone with his wife Nicole Breault during the 2014 regatta. This year, the event will double as the J105 North American Championship – Rolex Big Boat Series – © Rolex-Daniel Forster

From Thursday through Saturday, racing takes place on two circles, with starting areas near Alcatraz and Treasure Island. From Thursday through Saturday, classes rotate between circles, sailing two races daily, with the final race always finishing in front of the club where crowds cheer on their favorite teams, often in nail-biting charges to win or place. On Sunday, the ‘Bay Tour’ traditionally sends the entire fleet on a long race around government marks. 

The Notice of Race for the 2015 edition of the Rolex Big Boat Series has been published, and registration is now open. Visit website

by Regatta News

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