From September 16-19 the St. Francis Yacht Club will celebrate the 40th anniversary of its Perpetual Trophy Series, better known as the Big Boat Series presented by Rolex.
And, for the very first time since the regatta was created in 1964, it will utilize the IRC handicap formula. Racing takes place within viewing range of Pier 39 and the Marina District, between Treasure Island and the Golden Gate Bridge, with the finish line set off the St. Francis Yacht Club Race Deck. Over 100 boats are expected to compete in 10 one-design and handicap classes for class honours as well as a chance to take home one of six perpetual trophies - Richard Rheem, St. Francis, City of San Francisco, Atlantic, Keefe-Kilborn Memorial and the newly created Commodore's Cup. Specially engraved Rolex timepieces also will be awarded to the perpetual trophy winners.
Over the past 41 years, the Big Boat Series has been cancelled once, in 2001 following the tragic events of September 11. Since its founding the event has always endeavoured to be what Bob KEEFE, the St. Francis race committee chairman credited with the concept of the regatta: A showcase of big boat yachting talent from around the world.
In keeping with the mantra to attract larger boats to the San Francisco Bay, the 2004 event will use the IRC handicapping. "IRC has proven to be very successful scoring boats sailing in strong tidal areas like the Solent, which is very similar to sailing in San Francisco Bay,"
said Norm DAVANT, StFYC's regatta developer. "It has always been StFYC's goal to be on the leading edge of the sport and to provide the best racing for the participants. With the overwhelming acceptance of IRC internationally, StFYC made the choice to give competitors the opportunity to come to the Big Boat Series knowing the handicap system will provide fair racing for them."
The Royal Ocean Racing Club administers IRC, which was recently recognized by the International Sailing Federation as an International Rating System. The Rolex Commodores' Cup and Rolex Fastnet Race are raced under IRC.
In addition to IRC as well as all the other One-Design classes the premier class this year will be the Transpac 52 class. Nine TP 52s are expected to compete and this event serves as the TP52 national championship.
This year's Transpac 52 race circuit includes the Newport-Bermuda Race; the Chicago to Mackinac Race, and concludes in San Francisco with the Big Boat Series. In the past 12 months, the Transpac 52 class has grown to include owners in China and Japan, the Mediterranean, the East and West Coasts of the United States, and the Great Lakes.
From the initial fleet of nine boats, to its present count of well over 100 entries, the Big Boat Series is credited with defining the West Coast sailing scene.
The first trophy ever awarded was the St. Francis Perpetual Trophy, then a 24-karat-gold treasure worth $10,000. Over the years additional perpetual trophies have been added and in 2004 StFYC Commodore Tom QUIGG will unveil the Commodore's Cup. It was created to stimulate and encourage competition among and between One Design fleet yachts.
The Big Boat Series will follow the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship, to be held September 8-11 and hosted at the St. Francis Yacht Club.
St. Francis Yacht Club's Big Boat Series presented by Rolex will be featured in the television program "The Spirit of Yachting," to be broadcast internationally beginning January of 2004. For sailors worldwide, the Rolex "Spirit of Yachting" films convey the exciting highlights of the racing season. Each year, from a host of locales that offer spectacular conditions and intense competition, Rolex produces a series of 30-minute films capturing the racing action.
The Big Boat Series presented by Rolex joins other prestigious Rolex-sponsored events in 2004 including the Giraglia Rolex Cup, Rolex Farr 40 World Championship, Rolex Fastnet Race, Maxi Rolex Cup, Rolex Middle Sea Race, the Rolex Miami OCR and the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.