September 11, 2011

Rolex Big Boat Series 2011

The 2011 Rolex Big Boat Series staged it's 11th and final race today and brought to end one of the most memorable Big Boat Series in recent years.  Some are even touting this as the best week of the events 47 year history.  The demands of racing for four days in 20-30 knot winds took it's toll on the boats and the sailors, most of whom arrived days before the event in order to practice.

Saturday was especially brutal as the wind peaked at around 35kts.  The TP52's were hit hard as more than a few had sail problems and boat issues.  The J-125's were battling it out for the top four spot's in IRC 2.  They were really showing their dominance amongst the other boats when Viggo Torbenson's J-125 Timeshaver broke their rudder.  Consensus on the was that they hit something (the amazing part of this story was that they still managed to finish the race).  Fellow competitor Tim Fuller, owner of the J-125 Resolute, had a back up close by in Richmond and generously let Viggo and his team borrow it.   Andy Costello's Double Trouble ended up dominating the proceedings and had won before the final day.

We found ourselves in a tough class on the 100% Ullman Powered Tanton 73 Velos (picture credit © Rolex-Daniel Forster).  After the near perfect performance in 2009 Team Velos was back, and looking for more silverware.  This year we were matched up against four TP52's and local rockstars Criminal Mischief.  Also in the mix was the 78 foot turbo sled Akela.  Our best day came on Saturday in the big breeze as we were able to match the other boats upwind.  Sailing Velos around a relatively small course is a chore and the crew worked tirelessly to keep the boat moving as fast as possible.  Everything is more difficult.  The huge weight and extreme loads takes their toll physically.  The bow team were outstanding (our spinnaker pole is bigger than most boats) and shone in the tough conditions when things did not work out how we planned.  Only casualty of the weekend was the 4A that had a small tear that quickly turned into an exploded spinnaker. Owner Kjeld Hestehave provided a great program and is highly competitive with his boat and a pleasure to sail with.

Michael Shlens took his Express 37 (shown here in one the more exciting moments) upstate to compete in the 9 boat one design class.  Ullman rep Peter Wheelon was on board to help propel the 100% Ullman boat into second place for the regatta.  The Express fleet were right at home in the heavy air and enjoyed extremely close racing and spectacular sailing all week.

Keith Magnussen

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