As home to some of the world’s most progressive tech companies, it’s no wonder the San Francisco Bay Area attracts innovative individuals.
Next week, some of those individuals will show how their skills honed in boardrooms translate to success on the water at the 51st Rolex Big Boat Series. Scheduled for September 17-20 and hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club, the annual regatta attracts hundreds of sailors to San Francisco Bay for four days of buoy and stadium-style racing (in PHRF, ORR, HPR, One Design and Multihull Divisions). Rolex Watch U.S.A. has been title sponsor of the event since 2005, and among the coveted prizes at stake are six different perpetual trophies and as many Rolex timepieces.
“The Rolex Big Boat Series is one of the greatest sailing competitions on the planet, run with the precision of a Swiss watch,” said Tom Siebel (Redwood City, Calif.), who is chairman and CEO of C3 Energy, a data analytics enterprise software company. He will defend his 2014 Multihull class victory at the Rolex Big Boat Series with his massively impressive 70-foot trimaran Orion.
“There are a lot of similarities between operating a business and operating a crew on a sailboat,” said Siebel. “Ultimately, the team that has the most talented, the most trained, and the most experienced group of people working together to hone their skills are likely to operate with greater success than the team that doesn’t.”
Siebel grew up in Chicago sailing a variety of dinghies on Lake Michigan, obtained his graduate degree in computer science from the University of Illinois, and was hired by Oracle Corporation when it was a startup with 30 to 40 employees. He relocated to San Francisco in 1985 and by 1993 had founded Siebel Systems, an application software company that rapidly became an industry leader, raking in revenues of over $2 billion annually. (He sold the company’s technology to Oracle in 2006 for upwards of $5 billion.)
“San Francisco’s adventurous, innovative and risk-taking spirit is reflected in the sailing scene at this Rolex regatta,” said Siebel. “The Bay is a very exciting place and could be described as the ‘Black Diamond Run’ of sailing venues; it’s challenging with high winds and tricky current and tides.”
Also competing in multihull class is Jerome Ternynck (San Francisco, Calif.). His Extreme 40 catamaran SmartRecruiters is the namesake of his recruiting software company.
“I learn a lot about sailing in business and a lot about business in sailing,” said Ternynck who moved to San Francisco from Brittany, France four years ago to launch SmartRecruiters, which has created over a million jobs and is used by over 2,000 businesses across the country. “I’ve always been an entrepreneur with a passion for innovation and things that are beyond normal. What I enjoy most about San Francisco is its high concentration of individuals that are focused on making the world a better place.”
Ternynck said that the strong multihull culture in France influenced his desire to start racing these types of high-performance boats at an early age. “Every time I take [my Extreme 40] out I have the same rewarding experience; I disconnect from everything going on in my life and focus solely on the happenings onboard.”
Rolex Big Boat skipper Peter Wagner (Atherton, Calif.) also 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 will be racing his newly acquired J/111 Skeleton Key in a one-design class at the Rolex Big Boat Series this year.
“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.”
Rewarding preparation, teamwork and tactical expertise, the Rolex Big Boat Series embodies Rolex’s affinity for sports and human achievement and characterizes the the company’s cultivation of close relationships with the most prestigious yacht clubs in the world. Rolex has been a partner of the St. Francis Yacht Club since 2001.
To learn more about how to watch these talented business people at this year’s Rolex Big Boat Series, visit http://www.rolexbigboatseries.com/
Image credit: Rolex/Daniel Forster