44th Rolex Big Boat Series: Annual

44th Rolex Big Boat Series: Annual ©2007 Serge Zavarin Related topics:

9 September 2008

As published by Rolex - Defending Melges 32 class winner Pegasus 32, owned by Philippe Kahn (Santa Cruz, Calif.), returns to face a very challenging fleet. Kahn, with Richard Clarke (Canada), set a new record for the 2008 Pacific Cup race of 7 days, 15 hours, 17 minutes and 50 seconds. The prior record was set by Volvo Ocean Race winner Stan Honey in 1992. Kahn, a well-known technology visionary and creator of MotionX applications for the Apple iPhone 3G, sailed an almost-perfect Rolex Big Boat Series in 2007, posting five first-place finishes in seven races.

Returning after a 10-year absence to the Rolex Big Boat Series is Michael Illbruck (Munich, Germany), who will race his Melges 32 Pinta, winner of the 2008 Acura Miami Grand Prix and the recently completed Cala De'Medici regatta in Europe. "We will be coming to San Francisco hoping to win the Rolex Big Boat Series, but understand that there will be a lot of very competitive boats in our fleet which will make for great racing on the bay," said Don Cowie, Pinta crew leader and Olympic Silver Medalist ('92 Star). "Some of the many good things about the Melges 32 class are the people that sail them; it is a very competitive class, but also a social class which makes for a lot of fun. For Stephen Pugh (Sausalito, Calif.), capitalizing on local knowledge is his team's plan aboard Taboo. "This is our backyard, so to speak, therefore we would be considered a local favorite," said Pugh. "The competition in the Melges 32 fleet is as good as it gets. Many of the owners and crew are a 'Who's Who' of world class competitors. I would expect Pinta, Pegasus and Red to be tough to beat." Red, second in class in 2007, is owned by Joe Woods (Torquay, GBR).

Although the two-time national champion Melges 32 will be in San Francisco, the helmsman will not. USA 32 has been chartered by John Porter (Zenda, Wis.) and temporarily renamed Full Throttle. Of the nine crew, three are Porters. "The Porters sailing with me are my son Corbett and nephew Bri," explained John Porter who will drive Full Throttle, alongside tactician Harry Melges. "I have sailed a Melges 24 with my brother Brian for the last 15 years, most recently the world champs with him this year at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda. There will be some very good sailors in San Fran so we are just hoping to be competitive and sail well."

Regarded by sailors as one of the world's premier sailboat racing events, the Rolex Big Boat Series joins the list of other prestigious Rolex-sponsored events in 2008: the Rolex Fastnet Race, the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship, Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, the Rolex Swan Cup and the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

For more information about the Rolex Big Boat Series, including entry lists and results, please visit WWW.STFYC.ORG