The Rolex Big Boat Series and the Transpac Honolulu Race showcase entirely different race formats and call for entirely different strategies, but the two regattas share one important thing: both consistently attract teams at the top of their games. Thus far, of the 35 boats registered for 2015’s Rolex Big Boat Series, at least seven will also compete in the Transpac.
This highly competitive segment of the fleet will sail the 2,225 miles from Los Angeles to Hawaii in July, return in August, and meet again in September on San Francisco Bay for the four-day Rolex Big Boat Series. Like the Transpac, which has run biennially since 1906, the Rolex Big Boat Series has a long race lineage, with event host St. Francis Yacht Club marking its 51st edition of the regatta.
“These are two of the premier events on the West Coast, so I expect there to be some competitor overlap, especially with the bigger boats,” says Tim Fuller (Murrieta, Calif.) who will be racing his J/125 Resolute in both regattas this year. “Preparation is so different for these two events. For the Transpac, you are in the ocean for days and the conditions vary, so the strategy is to develop a rhythm. At the Rolex Big Boat Series, it is almost guaranteed that it will be windy, and you are racing short courses, so the word I would use would be ‘focus’ as you are trying to claw for every single inch on the course.”
Fuller last raced at the Rolex Big Boat Series in 2013, taking third place in the HPR division with his team aboard Resolute. This year, the four-day regatta welcomes a new PHRF sport boat class for 35- to 40-foot boats to its lineup of ORR, HPR, Multihull and One-Design divisions.
Fuller’s tactics at the Rolex Big Boat Series, where he will race with a crew off 11, will differ completely from the Transpac as he will be competing double-handed with navigator Erik Shampain.
“This will be the third time we’ve raced double-handed at the Transpac. In 2009, we won our class on the modified ID35 Relentless. This time around we will have a completely different mindset, as we will be racing on a J/125, which is the largest boat we’ve raced double-handed. We will be sailing more conservatively at the Transpac versus at the Rolex Big Boat Series, where we will have more hands.”
Chris Hemans (Costa Mesa, Calif.) is also very familiar with both regattas, marking 2015 as his fifth Rolex Big Boat Series and third Transpac. This year, Hemans and a full Corinthian crew will race on his recently purchased Rogers 46 Varuna.
“The Rolex Big Boat Series is the most fun event for me,” says Hemans. “The dynamic, the weather, the racing, the camaraderie and the entertainment are all fantastic, and every day after racing you come ashore to talk about the event with competitors. The Transpac is another animal. You’re offshore, you go days without seeing another competitor, which makes it hard to know how well you are performing in relation to your competitors. During the Transpac you are constantly deliberating what changes you need to make that may give you an advantage 200 miles down the course, unlike the Rolex Big Boat Series where the racing is fast-paced and decisions must be made quickly.”
Other competitors to watch for at both events include David and Peter Askew’s 74-foot Reichel Pugh Wizard, Eduardo Porter Ludwig’s TP52 Patches and Viggo Torbensen’s J/125 Time Shaver.
The Notice of Race for the 2015 edition of the Rolex Big Boat Series has been published, and registration is now open. (http://www.rolexbigboatseries.com/)