Thursday, October 1, 2015

Theis’ J/111 Two-Peats Rolex Big Boat Series

J/111 Aeolus- sailing San Francisco Bay Halliwill’s PEREGRINE Tops J/120s
(San Francisco, CA)- While the J/105s were dueling for class honors in their North American Championship, the J/111s, J/120s were racing one-design in the Rolex Big Boat Series, also striving for that ultimate prize- the famous Rolex Submariner stainless steel chronometer watch.  In addition, two J/125s in HPR Class were hoping to win the same “wrist candy”, as were a pair of J/88s and J/90 in the PHRF section.

The San Francisco Bay J/111 is growing nicely and the competition could not be any closer for the top of the leaderboard.  The racing was not without its dramas!  After rolling off a 3-1-1, Dorian McKelvy’s MADMEN suffered a scoring penalty in the 4th race to make their bid to win the coveted prize that much more difficult.  On Sunday’s famous “Bay Tour” race, they pretty much had to win it to guarantee win based on a tie-breaker with AEOLUS, presuming the latter finished 2nd.  Unfortunately, for the “MADMEN”, that scenario did not play out— but it sure came close!  Instead, Rob Theis’ Team RINGCENTRAL-AEOLUS took the crown by finishing 2nd for a total of 11 pts.  McKelvy’s crew took 2nd with 12 pts and Peter Wagner’s fast-learning crew on SKELETON KEY took third- posting an impressive scoreline of 2-5-3-2-1 for 13 pts.

J/111 Aeolus skipper- Rob Theis- winning Rolex Big Boat SeriesAbout their victory, Rob Theis said: “This was tough, very fun racing.  Hats off to all our competitors for some great sailing on the Bay!  At the end of the day, the familiar orange & blue colors on the sails of Team RINGCENTRAL-AEOLUS were hoping to repeat our victory of the internationally recognized Rolex Big Boat Series.  That we did it was amazing! Team RingCentral finished one point ahead of the fleet securing our place as the 2015 champions.

The Rolex Big Boat Series attracts over one hundred boats from around the United States, and world, to come take on the notorious San Francisco Bay waters that played home to the 2013 America’s Cup where Team Oracle took home the crown. The J111 class of boats are a high-performance, elite sailing machines that require perfect coordination and communication between the skipper (boat driver) and crew in making sail adjustments, and strategically navigating the course.  Our RingCentral team was able to outwit the unpredictable winds, currents that make San Francisco Bay one of the most sought after venues in the sailing world.

J/111 fleet sailing San Francisco BayIn the end, strong teamwork, experience, and endurance lead to a wonderful victory on the bay this weekend!  Thanks to our crew and, again, congratulations to our fierce competitors and thanks to the amazing program run by Rolex and the St Francis YC!”

As an interesting perspective, this was the first Rolex BBS for skipper Peter Wagner (Atherton, Calif.) and his team aboard the J/111 SKELETON KEY.  Peter started as a junior sailor, racing dinghies on Long Island Sound. He went on to become captain of his college sailing team at Harvard University, where he was twice named a Collegiate All-American. Wagner knew he would be racing one-design in one of the toughest classes at the RBBS this year.

J/111 Madmen sailing San Francisco Bay“What has always attracted me to the sport of sailing is how it draws on four challenging elements; it blends both a technical and physical component while also calling for strategic thinking and organization,” said Wagner, a founding partner of Wing Venture Capital. This year, he was included in Forbes Magazine’s top-100 list of “World’s Smartest Tech Investors” and has been part of a number of IPOs, 16 of which have exceeded $1 billion in market capitalization.

“Being a part of the innovation economy in the San Francisco Bay Area today is like being in Florence during the Renaissance. It’s a gathering point for the world’s most talented and ambitious individuals,” said Wagner. “As far as sailing goes, I think the sport and the Rolex Big Boat Series in particular benefit from that group of people. Even if they aren’t specifically involved in technology, that mindset pervades the whole region and definitely manifests itself on the race course!”  Wagner’s 3-2-1 in the last three races was unmatched by the eventual regatta winner’s scoreline of 5-1-2, is that a bit of foreshadowing of what’s to come in this exciting class?  

The rest of the top five in the J/111s were Dick Swanson’s BAD DOG in fourth place and taking fifth on a tie-breaker was Gorkem Oszcelebi’s DOUBLE DIGIT over Nessrin Basoz’s SWIFT NESS.

J/120s sailing San Francisco BayLike their J/111 colleagues, the top slots in the J/120 class were contested very tightly over the course of the four-day regatta.  The class leaders were tied with identical records of two 1sts and two 2nds after the first three days of sailing- Dave Halliwill’s PEREGRINE and Barry Lewis’ CHANCE.  The last day, the epic “Bay Tour” was going to determine the outcome for class bragging rights for another year!  In the end, it was Halliwill’s PEREGRINE team that won the watch by winning the last race over Lewis’ CHANCE that finished 2nd!  Tough hombres these two are!  Third was Ludovic Milin’s SAETTA with 17 pts, fourth was Timo Bruck’s TWIST and fifth was Steve Madeira’s MR MAGOO.

J/125 Double Trouble sailing San Francisco BayIn the HPR Class, the two J/125s went head-to-head for class honors and nearly cleaned up across the board.  Greg Slyngstad’s HAMACHI from Seattle, Washington, simply could not overcome the tremendous local knowledge advantage and good boatspeed of four-time Rolex BBS winner, DOUBLE TROUBLE skippered by Peter Krueger.  Counting three 1sts and two 2nds for a total score of 7 pts, there was no one holding back the “local boys” from getting their FIFTH Rolex Submariner- not surprisingly, skipper Peter Krueger was grinning that cheshire-cat grin from ear to ear- proud of his “DT boys” for having done the job well, again!

J/88 Courageous sailing San Francisco BayThe new PHRF Sportboat division was full of surprises, as anticipated beforehand.  Local knowledge on two old Farr 36s played a hand in the outcome, that’s for certain.  Nevertheless, Gary Panariello’s J/88 COURAGEOUS was learning the ropes quickly on SF Bay, sailed steadily to start out with three 4ths in a row, won the 4th race, but then “tanked” the Bay Tour with a 5th place to drop from 2nd place into 3rd overall.  Still, a great performance for their first outing in a major regatta and with lessons learned the hard way on the Bay, will be looking to return with a vengeance.  Having a roller-coaster of a ride was Trig Liljestrand’s J/90 RAGTIME, firing off a 2-4 in the tally to ultimately secure 6th overall.  For more Rolex Big Boat Series sailing information