Racing resumes in San Francisco
Competition for IRC classes at the Rolex Big Boat Series will be hotter than ever, since the 48th event doubles as the 2012 IRC North American Championship. And while the big guns are slinging it out on San Francisco Bay from Thursday, September 6 through Sunday, September 9, three one-design classes, a new HPR (High Performance Rule) class and a performance catamaran class also will be sporting some top names in sailing as they fight to take class honors and perhaps one of the event’s six coveted trophies that are accompanied by Rolex timepieces as prizes. The prestigious honor of being named the overall IRC North American Champion will be bestowed on the team with the best performance in the IRC division.
“This is the first IRC North American Championship we’ve been entered in since 2006 and the first ever on board our TP52 Vesper,” said Jim Swartz, who won the IRC-A class last year at the Rolex Big Boat Series with this same boat. “I think it will be tough to beat our performance last year. That was one of the best regattas we’ve ever had, and I just hope to come close to it this year.”
Swartz will have his work cut out for him, with Tom Akin’s newly acquired IRC 52 Meanie making its debut this year. Meanie, which is the sister ship to the 2009 IRC National Champion Vincitore, will be joined by return contender Manouch Moshayedi’s IRC 52 Rio, which will take another swipe at the podium after a fourth place finish in 2011.
Brad Copper’s Tripp 43 TNT and Daniel Woolery’s King 40 Soozal both took podium finishes at previous IRC North American Championships and will be making their own plays for national class honors in IRC-B.
The IRC-C class will be comprised of the event’s 'fast forties', which were introduced to the Rolex Big Boat Series in 2011 and will be dual-scored under a new HPR rule this year. They are light-displacement asymmetrical sprit boats that range between 36 and 40 feet, and last year, the J/125 Double Trouble took bullets in all of the class’s seven races with Andy Costello at the helm. This year, Double Trouble’s co-owner with Costello, Peter Krueger, will try to follow in the same footsteps. “The pressure is huge this year with Andy having done an excellent job in 2011,” said Krueger, who has co-owned the boat with Costello since 2008 and before that competed against him in Beneteaus and Sydney 38s. “Everyone is looking to me and saying, ‘can we repeat?’ I say, ‘yeah we can repeat!’ We are going to go out there and sail hard. We are looking for an exciting event and, as always, the camaraderie, the friendships and the competitiveness is what makes us come back every year.”
Having racked up an impressive set of victories in Southern California races, Bernard Girod’s Farr 400 Rock & Roll will be among some of Double Trouble’s toughest competitors. Also joining IRC-C this year is Steven Stroub’s Santa Cruz Tiburon and Alex Farell’s One Design 35 Alpha Puppy, both of which will be racing for the first time in IRC after many one-design series outings.
IRC-D will see former winners and old rivals competing, with Gerard Sheridan returning with his Elan 40 Tupelo Honey to defend his 2006 and 2009 class wins.
Other Rolex Big Boat Series veterans returning this year include Henry King’s Custom Frers 40 Jeannette, Frank Morrow’s IMX 38 Hawkeye, Gerry Brown’s Farr 11.6 Mintaka 4 and Wayne Koide’s Sydney 36 Encore.