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18 September 2010, 09:16 am
Fog Plagues Rolex Big Boat Series
Melges 32 start
Melges 32 fleet start of fthe Bay Bridge

Rolex Big Boat Series 2010
San Francisco, USA

Fog prevailed for the second day at St Francis Yacht Club's, 46th Rolex Big Boat Series which is also the pre-Worlds for the Melges 32 Class.
Each class-four for IRC and five for One Designs (Melges 32s, J/105, J/120, Express 37 and One Design 35)-has completed four out of seven races planned before the event's conclusion on Sunday, when leaders among 98 teams will have established bragging rights for this time-honored, tightly contested regatta.

In IRC Class A, Jim Mitchell's (SUI) RP 52 Vincitore still leads after posting a 3-2 today, but it was Jorge Ripstein's (MEX) RP 52 Patches that turned in a stellar two-victory performance after being disqualified in yesterday's race two for going through an obstructed area of the course. "Because it's a brand new boat, we had no instruments working, and we didn't realize there was a navigational mark we had to honor," said Patches's tactician Peter Holmberg (ISV). "Today we went and bought a handheld GPS, so it's amazing we are getting around the track as well as we are. It wasn't pea soup today, but it was still difficult." Holmberg described the team's 15-second victory in race one today as classic "come-from-behind." In fourth on the final leg of a 16-mile race, Patches went north around Alcatraz Island, figuring there was nothing to lose while teams ahead of it went South. Turned out there was everything to gain with better current and wind. "That's the really great thing about San Francisco Bay," said Holmberg. "There are big gains and losses to be made. It was one of those last-ditch efforts that paid off beautifully."

Victory in the second race was less luck, more skill, with Patches jumping out in front off the line and then, two or three plays later, extending. "The boats following us had to take what was left," said Holmberg, "and overall we narrowed a six-point gap on first place (yesterday) to three."

As for Vincitore, Jim Mitchell sees that three-point gap as game advantage. "Last year we beat Patches by one point (to win the 2009 Rolex US-IRC National Championship held in conjunction with the Rolex Big Boat Series)." This will be Mitchell's last regatta with Vincitore, which he is selling to a Mexican owner at the conclusion of this event. "It's kind of like sending your kid off to college," said Mitchell, explaining that he built the boat three years ago so he could race the Mackinac with his 78-year-old father, and since, typically sails with as many as three generations of family members aboard." But not to worry: Mitchell will be back for next year's Rolex Big Boat Series with a new boat, if his current building program goes as planned.

In One Design 35 class, Jonathan Hunt's (USA) Dark and Stormy also won both of today's races to lead by five points over Masakazu Toyama (Japan) Ebb Tide. "Life can be beautiful," said Hunt. "We were looking to do well, but this is my first time driving (rather than crewing) in the Rolex Big Boat series, so I'm really pleased." Having owned Dark and Stormy just about a year and a half, Hunt explained that he finally had acquired enough experience to steer. "It's not a large class, but there are a lot of very experienced owners. We won each of today's races (and race one yesterday) by a couple of minutes, which is substantial in a one-design class."

Melges 32: Pre-Worlds
The Melges 32 fleet, in which Pieter Taselaar's (USA) Bliksem retains its lead, enjoyed a brisk 12-14 knots, with Bob Hughes (USA) and his Heartbreaker program making an aggressive effort to win race one, which also happened to be his first victory ever in the Melges 32 class. "When you win a race in this fleet, you've sailed a really, really good race." said Hughes, who is in 13 overall. "What I really enjoyed most was slugging it out with John Porter to the finish like we did back in our Melges 24 days." Porter's Full Throttle went on to win the final race of the day, placing him fifth overall. "I feel a lot better today than I did yesterday," said a smiling Porter after submitting a 2-1 scorecard for the day. "Everyone was far more focused today on their jobs. At the last mark, I was so excited to be rounding in the top five. Yesterday we finished eighth and my guys said to me, 'we're ahead of a lot of really good boats.' That's the level of competition we are up against here."

Other leaders from day one still leading are: Donald Payan's (USA) Dayenu in J 120s; Kame Richards's (USA.) Golden Moon in Express 37s; Bruce Stone's Arbitrage (USA) in J 105s; Dale Williams's Wasabi (USA) in IRC C; and Frank Morrow's (USA) Hawkeye in IRC D. In IRC B, Daniel Woolery's (USA) Soozal overtook Sy Kleinman's Swiftsure II (USA).

Follow the action at the event website - and on Regatta News -

Barby McGowan
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