Rolex Farr 40 World Championship
Two races, two winners, no change at the top. The wobbles have begun though and the moves are being made in both directions. Rudyard Kipling could have written his famous poem about day two at the Rolex Farr 40 Worlds 2009. Three boats held their nerve the best. Jim Richardson and Barking Mad (USA), Giovanni Maspero and Joe Fly (ITA), Massimo Mezzaroma and Nerone (ITA) kept the damage to the minimum and lead the fleet going into day three.
Today was all about keeping your head at the start line. Neither race got away cleanly. The first race required two attempts, the second three. In the first race two boats still got it wrong second time around despite the threat of a Z Flag - which adds an irredeemable three-point scoring penalty at this regatta if you are over early. In the second race the phrase 'losing it' springs to mind, as eleven boats sailed the course under the shadow of the penalty flag.
Those got away cleanly through luck or judgement had a relatively easy day. Both Barking Mad and Joe Fly led their races; both sailed in mid-teen westerlies, from start to finish. The Italian crew had the better day posting a fourth in the first race to keep all their scores so far in the top five. The Americans posted a sixth in the second race, but stay in first overall. These two are separated by one point, with Nerone's score line of 2, 4 sufficient to lift them into third place, seven points off the pace.
So, if those three were the movers, who were the shakers. Transfusion, for one. The Australians took a solid third in one race and hefty twenty in the other. Vincenzo Onorato did only slightly better, with a combined score of seventeen-points, but the Z-flag in the second race suggests a chink in the usually impregnable armour of Mascalzone Latino (ITA). Fiamma (ITA) may have only slipped from eighth to ninth in the overall standings, but a look at the score line shows a damaging thirty-four point day that has dented Alessandro Barnaba's Championship challenge.
Barking Mad has been on the Farr 40 circuit longer than anyone competing here. A core crewmember is Linda Lindquist-Bishop, former America's Cup sailor with America 3 and one of two women on the team. Lindquist-Bishop is clear on the route to success today, “in the words of my great sailing mentor, Buddy Melges, the best strategy is to get out in front and stay there and that is what we did in the first race today. In this fleet an awful lot of it is about the start and that is why you see everyone just really choked up on the line, wanting to be in the right place at the right speed right at the gun, because literally quarter boat length off the line, without enough pace, and you're buried and you really have to fight back.”
For a long time Farr 40s were sailed with nine crew, but in recent years there has been a move to ten and more often than not the tenth member is female. Lindquist-Bishop explains that the reasoning is not just weight-related, “we used to sail these boats with nine, but about three years ago we changed from fractional kites to big mast head kites and now we sail the boats completely differently within the manoeuvres. The tenth person used to be an extra that just filled in, but now they have a very specific set of tasks on board. The tenth pair of hands is very useful. It's a strength position too, so it is a good combination to have a good, strong, light person and if you look we have Olympic level sailors in that tenth position.” One such Olympian is Carrie Howe, a trimmer on another American boat, Flash Gordon, currently lying seventh overall.
Giovanni Maspero the owner of Joe Fly is delighted to be in second overnight and equally pleased with the consistency of their performance, “yesterday and today we always were able to have great starts, the speed up-wind has always been to good so we were always able to get in the top five.” Asked what the secret is to staying at the front, Maspero rolls his eyes and laughs, “there are absolutely no secrets! We have been racing in this class for many years. We have had to be patient and improve every year. Only in the last one year have we reached the potential of our performance.”
Maspero's tactician, Francesco Bruni is more sanguine in his response to the same question, “we've been pretty conservative tactically and we've had very good starts. So far that has been the key to take you to the top mark in the top five. We've dropped some places in a couple of the races, but we can't complain. It's about being consistent.”
Bruni is a three time Olympian, each time in a different class (Star, Laser and 49er), so a man who knows all about the importance of start line position. For him the adage location, location, location could easily apply to the Farr 40 Class, “the first hard decision is which position on the starting line because it makes such a huge difference. It is a long line so it is a big difference if you start on the pin or committee end. Starting well and in the right place is so important.” Once off the line, Bruni agrees with fellow-Italian Vasco Vascotto on Nerone that the left side has seemed favoured, but he sees some variation, “so far the left corner has been working well, but with some exceptions so it is not absolutely clear. For me you need to start well, go left, but keep your eyes open. Downwind it has been a little more tricky. There are a lot of passing lanes and you see a lot of things changing.”
No doubt we'll see more things changing when racing continues tomorrow, 26 June, with the first gun at 11.00. Geoff Stagg of the Farr 40 Management Committee is quite certain of that, “this is when it really heats up. Yesterday there were no problems on the line; today it was different with a lot of boats carrying penalties. It will be the same tomorrow. Those that can't stand the heat will start falling by the wayside. The pressure is really, really coming on.” If the racing tomorrow is as intense as today, bring it on!
PROVISIONAL STANDINGS AFTER THREE RACES
Place, Boat Name, Owner, Nation, R1-R2-R3-R4-R5-Points
1. BARKING MAD Jim Richardson USA, 1-6-4-1-6-18.00
2. JOE FLY Giovanni Maspero ITA, 4-5-5-4-1-19.00
3. NERONE Massimo Mezzaroma ITA, 5-1-13-2-4-25.00
4. MASCALZONE LATINO Vincenzo Onorato ITA, 2-10-2-9-ZFP 6-31.00
5. GOOMBAY SMASH William Douglass USA, 7-2-12-8-7-36.00
6. TRANSFUSION Guido Belgiorno-Nettis AUS, 9-7-1-3-ZFP 20-40.00
7. FLASH GORDON Helmut Jahn USA, 20-4-3-11-ZFP 11-49.00
8. FIAMMA Alessandro Barnaba ITA, 3-12-7-10-ZFP 4-56.00
9. TWINS Erik Maris FRA, 14-8-15-14-ZFP 5-56.00
10. KOKOMO Lang Walker AUS, 10-15-9-12-11-57.00