A Guide to San Francisco Rolex Big Boat Series: Remembering What to Expect

Here it is again—Rolex Big Boat Series—a four-day sweep of either lots of wind or no wind. Of ridiculous tank top heat days and sun tanning at the docks, or cold and wet conditions. Of leadership and being miles ahead of the competition, or realizing time to just start enjoying the view because consistent DFL days won’t get skipper the watch.

A favorite event for locals, this is also a time when the sailing community comes together to ask, “Why do they still call it big boats?” Camaraderie is high; competition is (mostly) friendly. Thanks to topography, most Rolex BBS racers know each other well and know what to expect. Whether guest, first-timer or veteran, here are a few things to remember about Rolex Big Boat Series.

Why do they still call it big boats?

Sailors and Style
What’s special about September in San Francisco? Great regatta conditions and fall fashion of course. And just like back to school students, many Rolex BBS racers will probably be getting new outfits—whether it’s head-to-toe matching Musto ensembles or merely just a crew cap. No matter the threads, do add a 2017 Big Boat wicking pull-over, the long sleeve version and keep your hands on your gear; 23 percent* of all new apparel gets lost at BBS.

Next, let’s talk about ped statements, AKA best shoes and boots of the season. This regatta offers an opportunity to swap comparatives with dock mates whilst prepping and cleaning the boat. Aside from sole grip and style, chat about price and durability. Also get opinions about top candidate fall statement bags. We bet sailor duffels from recycled materials will prevail.

For boats, many will debut a new asym, main and/or jib. However, despite a global preponderance of sports endorsements and product placement on hulls and sails, the embellishment trend will likely skip over the 415; don’t expect much in the way of splashy wrapper decals and logo spinnakers. SF tacks conservatively (yeah, hard to believe). A guess about a new chute’s appearance is often limited to color or color ways. We’ll probably see new jewelry adorning the gals, and many vessels will sail directly from a spa rubdown.

What Holds it all Together
Ok great, we’ve covered fashion predictions and shiny new objects. Let’s move to regatta underpinnings, starting with the almost-always-happens glimpse of male skivvies: sightings both below and above deck. Guys seem immune to modesty. You’ll catch them dressing up and dressing down pre- and post-race. Is there a snag on the prop? Need to scrub the boat’s underside? Ask a guy. He’ll drop trow’ in an instant and dive into cold water. For gals at BBS the skin flash is often entertaining, even mesmerizing. By and large sailors have some of the best bodies, and it’s not often that we SF gals get a peek at abs.

Talking about milky white abs and untanned local bodies—that skin color nicely plays up the deep purple, black, red and yellow tones that will start to appear. At BBS it’s a rite of passage to collect lots of bruises and scrapes, with the goal being a return to the office Monday with bragging rights. Some racers hasten (and expand) the pity reach by posting photos after each day’s combat. Trying to determine how a bruise came about is also part of the game. Maybe coloration resulted when a crewmate reminded you of his recently replaced kneecap (which meant you unexpectedly had extra onboard duties). Or maybe that person started talking about an upcoming surgery (so you felt obligated to do more than you usually do).

By Saturday you may be sleeping in a bit, maybe even forego a morning shower

Sailors and Style
What’s special about September in San Francisco? Great regatta conditions and fall fashions of course. And just like back to school students, many Rolex BBS racers will probably be getting new outfits—whether it’s head-to-toe matching Musto ensembles or merely just a crew cap. No matter the threads, do add a 2017 Big Boat wicking pull-over, the long sleeve version and keep your hands on your gear; 23 percent* of all new apparel gets lost at BBS.

Next, let’s talk about ped statements, AKA best shoes and boots of the season. This regatta offers an opportunity to swap comparatives with dock mates whilst prepping and cleaning the boat. Aside from sole grip and style, chat about price and durability. Also get opinions about top candidate fall statement bags. We bet sailor duffels from recycled materials will prevail.

For boats, many will debut a new asym, main and/or jib. However, despite a global preponderance of sports endorsements and product placement on hulls and sails, the embellishment trend will likely skip over the 415; don’t expect much in the way of splashy wrapper decals and logo spinnakers. SF tacks conservatively (yeah, hard to believe). A guess about a new chute’s appearance is often limited to color or color ways. We’ll probably see new jewelry adorning the gals, and many vessels will sail directly from a spa rubdown.

What Holds it all Together
Ok great, we’ve covered fashion predictions and shiny new objects. Let’s move to regatta underpinnings, starting with the almost-always-happens glimpse of male skivvies: sightings both below and above deck. Guys seem immune to modesty. You’ll catch them dressing up and dressing down pre- and post-race. Is there a snag on the prop? Need to scrub the boat’s underside? Ask a guy. He’ll drop trow’ in an instant and dive into cold water. For gals at BBS the skin flash is often entertaining, even mesmerizing. By and large sailors have some of the best bodies, and it’s not often that we SF gals get a peek at abs.

Talking about milky white abs and untanned local bodies—that skin color nicely plays up the deep purple, black, red and yellow tones that will start to appear. At BBS it’s a rite of passage to collect lots of bruises and scrapes, with the goal being a return to the office Monday with bragging rights. Some racers hasten (and expand) the pity reach by posting photos after each day’s combat. Trying to determine how a bruise came about is also part of the game. Maybe coloration resulted when a crewmate reminded you of his recently replaced kneecap (which meant you unexpectedly had extra onboard duties). Or maybe that person started talking about an upcoming surgery (so you felt obligated to do more than you usually do).

_BBS0985.jpg
finger-on-the-wallet hopes that additional hardware costs will come in under $1K
By Sunday, day four of racing on San Francisco Bay, an expression like this may just be the norm. Ok, I happen to know this racer and he was giving me an 'immune to the camera' look.

By Sunday, day four of racing on San Francisco Bay, an expression like this may just be the norm. Ok, I happen to know this racer and he was giving me an 'immune to the camera' look.

Ode to the Boat Owner
Now to boat owners: you get 96-plus hours of finger-on-the-wallet hopes that additional hardware costs will come in under $1K, injuries will not happen, every maneuver will look good. You make sure the boat’s staffed, there’s enough water onboard. It’s a time of tolerance seeing all sorts of additional feet cross your boat to reach an adjacent tie-up. And let’s not forget about managing old friendships with fellow skippers via intimate conversations at the start line and while scanning race results. Then there's the fun of navigating ‘visual artists’ who track the fleets; you know, the photographers (more and more each year), videographers, drone operators and lookie lous. On the one hand they are a nuisance who often come-in close, but on the other hand they may just nail a killer shot and make you look good.

An Advance Race Recap
Rolex BBS racers continue to return year after year for the fun. It's a given that Thursday and Friday start off great. You’ll be enthusiastic, show up on time and will still have your Rolex hat. You're first to the courtyard for the best selection of hot foods, and you've learned to fill and balance multiple plates. By Saturday you may be sleeping in a bit, and possibly even forego a morning shower; blame it on the Friday night food truck party and giving thanks to the rum sponsor's patronage. Come post-race Saturday aspirin will be the first thing to reach, chased with free dockside beer. This is also the time to hunt for your misplaced sunglasses. Isn’t Saturday crew dinner night? That means a real clean-up and long pants. Here’s to Sunday. By 10am the wind is either banging about the halyards, or it’s dead calm and you are A-ok with sacking out on the pointy end for another hour of sleep (which gives time to prep your Rolex watch acceptance speech).

* Purely a guess. Stats and footnotes lend credibility to copy.
Want to see more Faces of Rolex 2016? View album here.

We in the photo boat hit it full throttle to keep up with this San Francisco beast, "Orion," a MOD70. As you can see, there is a little time to enjoy the scenery.

We in the photo boat hit it full throttle to keep up with this San Francisco beast, "Orion," a MOD70. As you can see, there is a little time to enjoy the scenery.