The Rolex Big Boat Series concluded the 2016 Rolex Yachting calendar in the U.S. in fine style. The record fleet of 127 entrants brought an abundance of energy and vibrancy that shined through on windy San Francisco Bay and at the lively social gatherings.

Two classes, the J/70 (36 entries) and J/105 (26 entries), comprised nearly half of the fleet and they were the most closely contested classes. Fittingly, each went down to the wire.

Leading by 1 point heading into Race 11, Julian Fernandez Neckelmann’s (Valle de Bravo, Mexico)Flojito y Cooperando won the J/70 Class when the crew, including tactician and past Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Bill Hardesty, won the final race by a large margin for a 3-point victory.

Philip Laby’s (Oakland, Calif.) Godot won the J/105 Class by an even closer margin. Godot sneaked across the finish line of Race 7 at the pin end in 2nd place, just half a length ahead of the two boats overlapped for 3rd and 4th place, to secure the win by 1 point. Had Godot finished worse than 2nd, it would’ve lost the victory.

The two winners were presented a Rolex Submariner Stainless Steel Date watch and also the Commodore’s Cup Perpetual Trophy and the Atlantic Perpetual Trophy, respectively. Four other class winners also received a Rolex watch and other perpetual trophies.

“To have two classes come down to the wire like that illustrates the high level of competition that was on San Francisco Bay last week,” said St. Francis Yacht Club Commodore Kimball Livingston. “We’re proud to be part of the Rolex family of events. They run some of the best and finest sports events on the planet. We’re honored to have this long-standing relationship.”

The Big Boat Series became a full-fledged Rolex regatta in 2004 when the St. Francis Yacht Club became one of Rolex’s partners on the global yachting scene. Founded in 1927 and situated on the rocky shoreline of San Francisco Bay, the St. Francis Yacht Club is widely regarded as one of the preeminent racing clubs around the world and represents many outstanding qualities.

The St. Francis Yacht Club has been recognized by Platinum Clubs of the World as the top yacht club in the United States in 2012, 2014 and 2016. Additionally, Boardroom Magazine, the publication of Distinguished Clubs of the World, has recognized St. Francis Yacht Club as a Distinguished Emerald Club of the World, the first yacht club to receive such an honor.

More than 350 boats competed in the three Rolex regattas in the U.S. this year. Earlier this year the New York Yacht Club’s 162nd Annual Regatta (June 10-12) and New York Yacht Club Race Week at Newport (July 9-16), attracted 131 and 101 boats, respectively.

Rolex first became involved in the sport of sailing in 1950, recognizing that sailing shares qualities that are akin to Rolex:  excellence, precision and team spirit. A Rolex timepiece was a fixture on the wrist of Sir Francis Chichester when he became the first man to sail solo around the world in 1966-’67.

Since then Rolex has become associated with rigorous offshore races such as the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race and Rolex Fastnet Race that test man and equipment, elegant regattas such as the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup sailed in the deep blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea, and prestigious clubs such as the New York Yacht Club and Royal Yacht Squadron.

Later this year the international calendar wraps up with the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, which starts Dec. 26 in Sydney Harbor, Australia.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What's Up Newp. He was born and raised in Rhode Island and graduated from Coventry High School. He serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors for Potter League for Animals. Ryan also is currently the Senior Editor - North America for Mountain News, publisher of OnTheSnow. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).