DAMAGE LIMITATION PROVES DIFFICULT
Consistency and minimizing damage have always been watchwords at the Rolex Farr 40 Worlds. No less so this year, as the 14th class world championship moves beyond the halfway point. None of the leading three got it completely right. Each bled more points than they would have liked over the course of three testing races.
Top of the pancake pile this evening are Guido Belgiorno-Nettis and Transfusion (AUS), but only just, after posting a 1-7-4 scoreline to gain the overall lead by three points. Massimo Mezzaroma and Antonio Sodo Migliori’s Nerone (ITA), moved into second, putting on the afterburners following a shoddy start to the day, and nailing a 10-1-1 to the door. Lisa and Martin Hill’s Estate Master (AUS) slipped back into third following a less than satisfactory 7-9-10. Estate Master heads a chasing pack that struggled to keep pace with the leading pair. The gap has widened. Not insurmountably with four races remaining, but what margin for error that might have existed has disappeared completely.
The boats of the day were certainly Transfusion and Nerone, but Helmut and Evan Jahn’s Flash Gordon (USA) deserves some praise too. The father and son team, aided by tactician Bill Hardesty accumulated three top-ten finishes and moved into fourth, two points ahead of Wolfgang and Angela Schaefer’s Struntje Light (GER) who were motoring exceptionally well until an unlucky thirteenth in race six spoilt their promising day.
If today was long for the racers, it was just as much a test of stamina and skill for the Principal Race Officer, Peter “Luigi” Reggio, the man charged with setting the racecourses at the Rolex Farr 40 Worlds 2011. Reggio is well-known in yachting circles. A sought after manager for some of the best grand prix events in sailing; he has been a ‘must have’ at this championship since 2004.
Typically his day starts early and, particularly when the wind is light, decision-making time is quickly upon him, “I get here at around eight o’clock, thinking about where we’re going to go and how we’re going to do it. This morning we talked to the weather guys and decided to hold off for an hour because the racing would be better.” Good decision; the racing may not have been perfect, but it would have been much, much worse had Reggio not delayed.
With the winds from the northeast initially struggling to stabilize around 8-10 knots, and a strong current from the south, the race area moved north from yesterday’s location to just off Manly Beach, affording crews and spectators an exceptional backdrop for the racing. By the last race the winds were up to 12 – 15 knots and with a choppy sea-state kept everyone on their toes.
Reggio asserts that contrary to popular opinion he works harder after the start than before. Active management of the racecourse is essential in his view, “I have to be on top of the boats, watching their angles. The race boats will tell me of a wind shift far before the mark boats.” With the wind swinging from 070 degrees to 035 degrees during the afternoon, more than once Reggio’s team were forced into action shortening course lengths and resetting marks.
The result of his efforts today was certainly some tired competitors. Three races all completed. A job done by the man in charge, only too aware that if the owners and crews are unhappy they will let him know. No complaints were noted as the crews stepped onto the dock at the end of the day, despite a flurry of protests that will keep the Jury busy tonight.
Racing on two of the boats this week, are two tacticians that have been with the class since its very early days. Adrian Stead is a three-time Rolex Farr 40 Worlds winner. Most recently with Mascalzone Latino in 2006 and 2007, his first success came in the inaugural championship, in 1998, with Jim Richardson’s Barking Mad. John Kostecki is a two-time winner, with Mascalzone Latino in 2008 when he stepped into Stead’s shoes after he returned home for the birth of his first child. Kostecki’s initial achievement was also early on, in San Francisco in 1999 with Jim Kilroy’s Samba Pa Ti. Both then have witnessed the development of the Farr 40 class at first-hand, and both hold similar opinions on the nature of the change.
Kostecki first, “it’s a lot more competitive these days. If you get back in the pack it is hard to come back. The standard of sailors is very high.” A sentiment echoed by Stead, “the level of sailing is exceptional. The standard of the owner/drivers, the standard of the amateurs and the standard of the professionals is really, really good.”
Both enjoy the racing immensely and for all but identical reasons. Stead feels, “it’s a level playing field. The class rewards teamwork. I’ve seen a lot of very good teams in my time, and they are always up there battling it out. People who put the time in like Barking Mad, Flash Gordon, Transfusion, Nerone reap the rewards.” In turn, Kostecki confirms this view, “it’s close, and it’s well organized. It takes the best team to win. It requires a lot of teamwork. The action is always close and it makes for great racing.”
Currently Notable/Previously Quotable
In 2007, shortly after winning his second Rolex Farr 40 World Championship, Vincenzo Onorato remarked, with typical Neapolitan style, “I feel wonderful. Mascalzone first, Alinghi second! It's my dream. Next dream is to do that in the America's Cup maybe."
Onorato was keen at the time to pass on the reasons for his success, “the secret was just to be relaxed. It is just a sail race and you must stay relaxed all the time. When things are happy you must not be so happy. When things are wrong you must not be so unhappy. This is the secret to be successful at the end.”
Barking Mad’s Owner Jim Richardson put Onorato’s 2007 win into perspective, “winning in the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship is always a very, very difficult task. To win it two times in a row is fantastic. Our hats are off to Vincenzo Onorato and his team. It is sincerely a great accomplishment.”
Rolex Farr 40 World Championhsip
Day 2 – Top 10 provisional results – pending protests
Place, Boat Name, Country, Owner-Helm, R1-R2-R3-R4-R5-R6, TOTAL
1) Transfusion, AUS, Guido Belgiorno-Nettis, 4-4-2-1-7-4, 22
2) Nerone , ITA, Antonio Sodo Migliori & Massimo Mezzaroma, 2-1-10-10-1-1, 25
3) Estate Master, AUS, Lisa & Martin Hill, 1-8-1-7-9-10, 36
4) Flash Gordon, USA, Helmut & Evan Jahn, 11-2-9-2-8-5, 37
5) Struntje Light, GER, Wolfgang & Angela Schaefer, 3-13-3-3-4-13, 39
6) Voodoo Chile, AUS, Andrew Hunn & Lloyd Clark, 5-9-8-17-3-2, 44
7) Barking Mad, USA, Jim Richardson, 15-10-5-11-2-3, 46
8) Kokomo, AUS, Lang Walker, 19-5-4-9-5-9, 51
9) Hooligan, AUS, Marcus Blackmore, 13-3-6-5-16-14, 57
10) Plenty, USA, Alex Roepers, 10-7-13-4-13-11, 58
The Rolex Farr 40 World Championship 2011 is organised by the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and the Farr 40 Class Association. Racing will be held in the waters off Sydney from Wednesday, 23 February to Saturday, 26 February.