St. Francis Yacht Club Adopts HPR Scoring System and Adds High Performance Catamaran Division

Continuing a tradition of firsts in grand prix yacht racing, organizers at the most prestigious inshore racing series on the U.S. west coast, the Rolex Big Boat Series, have announced today their decision to form both an HPR (High Performance Rule) class and a Catamaran class as competing divisions at this year’s event, taking place at St. Francis Yacht Club on September 6-9, 2012.

The HPR class will be open to high-performance offshore-capable yachts between 36 feet and 44 feet in length. The High Performance Rule came into being to fill a gap in existing measured handicap systems to specifically address the performance characteristics of the latest design and build concepts of racing yachts. While the rule is currently under development, the 36 to 44 foot band of yachts has typically been the first to adopt new measurement rules.

“We realized three years ago that many of the current group of light displacement boats in the 40’ range were just not competitive in IRC, so we created their own separate class using the IRC rule to score them,” said Rolex Big Boat Series fleet organizer Norman Davant. “This led to better results but was still not ideal. With a rule now in the final stages of development that is specific to light displacement race boats, it made sense to give this a try at the Rolex Big Boat Series. As the details of the rule are still being finalized, our plan is to dual score the boats using both the IRC and HPR systems this year, to give the racers an opportunity to see how they stack up against each other with the new rule.”

HPR (for High Performance Rule) is a recent innovation in rating dissimilar boats where measurements are made of each design and then compared against an ideal or “type-formed” design of the same length that is published in the rating rule. The HPR type-forms are boats that are very fast upwind and downwind, are built of the latest materials, and appeal to those owners and sailors who want to be on the cutting edge of the game. Each boat’s rating will be a single number to be used in time-on-time scoring, a method favored for the last several years at the Rolex Big Boat Series.

“We’re very excited to see a major regatta like the Rolex Big Boat Series adopt use of HPR,” said Steve Benjamin, an early founder of the rating system and co-owner with his wife Heidi of Spookie, a new Carkeek HPR 40 to be launched next month. “The interest since we’ve been developing this rule concept over the past year has been tremendous, and this regatta is an ideal setting for the types of boats, courses, and sailing conditions that we think are perfectly suited to HPR.”

In addition to the new HPR class, Rolex Big Boat Series organizers also will be inviting high performance catamarans to compete in 2012. “With the excitement being generated by the 34th America’s Cup and the America’s Cup World Series currently underway, we thought this would also be the perfect opportunity to invite a serious high-performance catamaran class for the Rolex Big Boat Series,” said St. Francis Yacht Club Commodore Peter Stoneberg. “There are currently several Prosail 40 catamarans as well as an SL-33 and an Extreme 40 sailing on San Francisco Bay, and we hope to attract all of these boats as well as more boats from outside of the Bay Area.”

About the Rolex Big Boat Series

Regarded by sailors as one of the world’s premier sailboat racing events, the Rolex Big Boat Series is part of the Rolex Yachting Portfolio that includes over 20 world-class sailing events that take place around the world, including the Rolex Miami OCR; Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup; Rolex Fastnet Race; Rolex Farr 40 World Championship; the New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex; and the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. The Rolex Big Boat Series consists of four days of racing for up to eight divisions of yachts on two courses set in the middle of San Francisco Bay. The event annually attracts world-caliber sailors, all of whom are eager to win one of the six specially engraved Rolex timepieces given to winners of the St. Francis Yacht Club’s Perpetual Trophies. This year the Rolex Big Boat Series will also host the IRC North American Championship.

About the St. Francis Yacht Club

The St. Francis Yacht Club was founded in 1927 and has been host to many of the most prestigious national and international championships in sailing. With over 40 regattas on its calendar annually, and as home to the West Coast’s premier regatta, the Rolex Big Boat Series, the St. Francis Yacht Club is widely regarded as having the top racing program and race management in the country.

For more information, go to Find us on facebook at St. Francis Yacht Club – Racing, and follow @bigboatseries. Regatta registration and competitor details can be found at