ROLEX BIG BOAT SERIES – It was a Deed of Gift match in the 1988 America’s Cup that saw a multi-hull compete for the first time in the America’s Cup when Dennis Connor’s winged catamaran took on Michael Fay’s ‘Big Boat’. All the while, Sid Morris brought professional performance catamaran racing to the fore with the Salem ProSail Series. Stung with the speed bug, local legend Tom Blackaller jumped into the ProSail Series circuit sailing against multi-hull luminaries such as Randy Smyth and Cam Lewis. His debut to the circuit was in the San Francisco event in October of 1988, on a course that was designed to image well for the media and provide great spectating from shore.
In 2007 history was repeated with a Deed of Gift match pitting Oracle Racing’s solid wing trimaran, against Alinghi’s sleek soft sail catamaran. Oracle Racing’s victory in that match has brought the defense of the 34th America’s Cup to San Francisco. While the AC34 challenger eliminations and defense will be sailed in solid winged 72’ catamarans, this cup cycle also includes the America’s Cup World Series – a lead up circuit being sailed in 45’ catamarans that has been underway since last summer and will see two events in San Francisco this month and again in October. Here, history again repeats itself, as the notions of the ProSail Series circuit from the 1980’s are ghostly akin to the vision of the 34th America’s Cup – build a circuit in high tech performance catamarans on spectator friendly race courses that will look spectacular on TV and video.
With renewed interest in performance catamaran racing and two ACWS events bookending the 2012 Rolex Big Boat Series in San Francisco, what better opportunity to introduce a performance catamaran class this year for the first time in the Rolex Big Boat Series’ 48 year history? The performance catamaran class for the Rolex Big Boat Series will bring together in one class, outstanding 32’ to 45’ Grand Prix design catamarans with no limitations on technology, design or performance enhancements. The designs range in age from 30 years old to modern day, but all the designs were focused on the highest level of performance, and it’s no accident that the bulk of the designs come from the likes of Morelli and Melvin and VPLP – all participating in design aspects for the upcoming 34th America’s Cup and with pedigrees that have brought the fastest ocean going multi-hulls to the ocean racing scene and flat out speed demons seeking world speed records.
Links to the America’s Cup are present in every design. From the SL33 design being used by Emirates Team New Zealand for a training and wing development platform, to D-Class catamarans used for training and tuning in the 1988 America’s Cup to the original ProSail 40 catamarans that burst to life on the ProSail Series circuit after the 1988 Deed of Gift match.
The 2012 Rolex Big Boat Series performance catamaran class will provide a trip down memory lane in the development of performance racing catamarans and pit old vs. new on challenging race courses. For AC45 fans and monohull fans alike, the 2012 Rolex Big Boat Series will be a great viewing spectacle both onshore and online. It all starts September 6th at 11AM PDT. To follow the action go to the TRACKER