Big Boat and Bigwigs

by Betsy Senescu December 18, 2023

There’s so much to pack into the December blog: that’s just how this month is, isn’t it?

From the 2023 Ultimate Sailing Calendar images to the launch of the 2024 edition – our 42nd! – plus the grandeur of the National Sailing Hall of Fame (NSHOF). So let’s get started!

RBBS in San Francisco CA

The December 2023 calendar images feature one of Sharon Green’s favorite regattas, the St. Francis Yacht Club Big Boat series sponsored by Rolex. Since Sharon arrived on the scene in 1983 she has been at nearly every running of this wet and wild event, which is now approaching its 60th year!

RBBS 1980s

Over the decades the ‘big’ in Big Boat has had varying significance. Originally the regatta was designed as a showcase for large, stately beauties such as Kialoa II, Athene, Baruna, Orient and Kamalii plying San Francisco Bay. In time it has morphed to include big fleets of smaller boats too, and everything in between. Know for stiff westerly winds that clash with the ebbing tide, it promises four days of thrilling competition.

RBBS old n new

That’s evident in Sharon’s featured photo in the December pages of the 2023 Ultimate Sailing Calendar, of the J105 fleet plowing through the turbulent green water. “This is typical San Francisco Bay conditions: big breeze, ebb tide, cold temps and hot action!” Sharon pointed out. “Here Maverick is leading the pack with a mob of rivals and the ever-present fog on it’s heels.”

2023 December Ultimate Sailing Calendar

“The vertical at the bottom is the J125 Arsenal: I used a slow shutter speed, with the photo boat keeping pace with the race boat, to get this dramatic shot that illustrates just how fast that boat is sailing!” Sharon added, “Another competitor, in the Classics Division, was Mayan: a circa 1947 schooner previously owned by the great singer/songwriter David Crosby. It’s now lovingly preserved by Beau and Stacey Vrolyk, who had ‘Fast is Fun’ yacht designer Bill Lee onboard.”

MAYAN at RBBS 2023

And this year’s Big Boat Series raised the bar with a different kind of highlight when Sharon was contracted to be the official Rolex photographer. “It is such an honor to be asked to document this legendary and exhilarating event! StFYC really rolls out the red carpet and even gave me a parking spot right at the entrance. My colleague Peter Lyons has assisted me for several years too, which makes for a great collaboration and fun.”

Sharon Green, Peter Lyon RBBS 2023

Recently the grandeur of the NSHOF came to the West Coast for the annual induction of honorees and gala events. What a who’s-who that was!

The home of the NSHOF is actually the new Sailing Museum at the historic Newport Armory in Newport, R.I. The museum opened just over one year ago and is a must-see, where people can immerse themselves in an interactive experience that celebrates the heritage of the sport and honors its legends. The annual NSHOF celebration rotates around the nation and we were fortunate to be in striking distance for the 2023 event.

This year’s ceremonies included a Friday night reception, Saturday morning induction, and festive Saturday evening dinner in Newport Beach, Calif. Said Sharon, “Rubbing shoulders with these sailing greats, I was overwhelmed with just how many of them have been featured in the Ultimate Sailing Calendar, or I’ve photographed for assignment over my 43 years.”

2023 NSHOF

“Past honorees include the late Roy E. Disney, Stan Honey and Robbie Haines, who I’ve photographed during many Transpac campaigns; Bob and Rod Johnston – from my time documenting the very early days of J boats, in Essex, Conn., and Lowell North – pivotal also to my introduction to yachting photography at the age of 17. Irving and Exy Johnson are in the NSHOF: I never met this adventurous couple, but my Dad sailed with them around the world in 1950. I used to send Irving and Exy an Ultimate Sailing calendar every year, and Exy would write me these wonderful thank you notes and comment on my work. I still have several of those treasured hand-written notes tucked away!”

Johnson notes

Dawn Riley, Paul Cayard, Gary Jobson, Peter Harken, Ed Baird, Tom Blackaller, Bruce Kirby, Jonathon McKee, Betsy Allison, Bill Koch, Dennis Conner, John Kostecki, Mark Reynolds, Jim Kilroy …  incredible boat builders and designers like Buddy Melges, Bill Lee, Bob Perry and Doug Peterson … the list of honorees Sharon has had the honor of photographing goes on and on!

“It is fantastic that the NSHOF recognizes the great people who have been the foundation of our sport, and advanced it,” Sharon added. Hats off to this year’s inductees: Tim Hogan, who received a Lifetime Achievement award; Peter Holmberg, Sally Honey, John Kolius, John Marshall and Bob Perry, and posthumously Skip Etchells, Bill Lapworth, Charles Morgan and Richard Stearns.

2023 National Sailing Hall of Fame Inductees

Photo credit: https://nshof.org/

2024 Ultimate Sailing Calendar

The New Year is right around the corner and you’ll want to start it out right! The 2024 Ultimate Sailing Calendar is in stock now: ideal for getting organized, staying inspired, and as a one-size-fits all gift for friends, family, the company grab bag and your crew. This stunning curation of images will awe viewers with boats that appear to walk on water, like the new Olympic Class iQFOil windsurfers, M32s and foiling VOR 60s; timeless, high-spirited fleets like the Star, Melges 24, 18-foot skiff and Opti; plus classic yachts. The 2024 Ultimate Sailing Calendar has something for everyone: order NOW at www.ultimatesailing.com  ‘Want to get a bundle of shopping done at once? Our current ‘five for $100’ calendar promotion will solve your holiday gift quandary in a snap! You can be assured every sailor and adventurer on your list would love the 2024 Ultimate Sailing Calendar. It’s the gift that lasts all year long! 

And with this, the Ultimate Sailing Team wishes you and yours a wonderful Holiday Season, as we look forward to a glorious New Year!



Betsy Senescu
Betsy Senescu


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