The St. Francis Yacht Club's Big Boat Series presented by Rolex kicked off a seven-race series on San Francisco Bay yesterday in an 18-knot breeze

The St. Francis Yacht Club’s Big Boat Series presented by Rolex kicked off a seven-race series on San Francisco Bay yesterday in an 18-knot breeze. More than 1,000 competitors on 109 boats sailed two races in each of two Americap classes and eight one-design classes: Transpac 52, Santa Cruz 52, Farr 40, J120, Express 37, J105, 1D35 and Beneteau 40.7. Racing continues through to Sunday when five perpetual trophies and Rolex timepieces will be awarded.

In the 20-boat Farr 40 class, there is a tie for first place between Crocodile Rock, owned by Alex Geremia and Scott Harris of Los Angeles and Barking Mad, owned by Jim Richardson of Newport, R.I. Richardson attributed his 4,2 scores to good boat speed, “The currents are so significant here that it can be disheartening if you get behind a boat.”

Defending champion Samba Pa Ti owned by San Franciscan John Kilroy is in third overall. John Kostecki is calling tactics for Kilroy and his local knowledge paid off with a 2,5 score for the former world champion Farr 40.

In the Transpac 52 class, Jim Demetriades? Yassou and Bill Turpins? Alta Vita traded a first and second place in two races and are tied for first overall on points. This is the first time that the Transpac 52s have raced as a one-design class and Turpin of Los Gatos, Calif., has put in some extra work with hope of eclipsing their rivals, “We have some new sails and have spent lots of time tuning.” With a standout crew consisting of big boat sailors Jay Crum, Jeff Thorpe, Ian Klitza and Ty Pryne, with sailmaker Fuzz Foster fresh off a win as the sail coordinator for illbruck in the Volvo Ocean Race, Turpin said, “We’re playing to win on Alta Vita.”

The largest fleet, with 33 boats registered, is the J/105 fleet, which also has its season championship to be decided. Class favourites Good Timing, owned by San Franciscans David Wilson and Phil Perkins, finished the day in first-place overall. Endurance, owned by Jeff Litfin and Steve Pugh, is in fifth-place overall. Litfin re-named his boat in honour of his good friend, local sailor Mike Congdon, who passed away recently.