Heeley takes second victory in Farr 40s

...sailing on a course of three sectors

Sunday May 13th 2001, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
GBR25 skipper/owner Mark Heeley was a happy man last night having taken home the silverware in his second consecutive regatta of the Barlo Plastics Farr 40 European Series.

The RYA's Bill Edgerton had devised an unusual format for the Series' Long Inshore Course. This four hour long race comprised three 'sectors' divided by two gates. The start was delayed for one hour due to lack of wind and from the start off Hill Head the eight-strong fleet was sent off down the eastern Solent where they spent the rest of the afternoon. Shortly before reaching the gate at the end of the first sector, the course for the second sector was announced over the VHF and similarly at the end of the second sector for the third. A similar format has been used on some legs of the Tour de France a la Voile. "It was a little like a Cowes Week course," Mark Heeley told madforsailing.

To make the race more interesting for those in the middle of the fleet, the first sector was scored on points, while the second and third were run on elapsed time. Thus a boat could be behind passing through the first gate, but could still receive points if they sailed faster than the other boats in the remaining sectors. There was an additional points bonus for the ultimate winner. The overall effect was like sailing three races back to back without stopping.

Each sector comprised mainly windward-leewards and the three sector format allowed Edgerton to square up the course if there was a wind shift. Typically, of course, the wind remained stable and resolutely in the east blowing at around ten knots at the start and peaking at 17 knots.

Heeley's GBR25 led the fleet at the two gates and at the finish, but fell behind on elapsed time in the second sector in which she came third. Despite the slower second sector his Farr 40 was overall winner ahead of Bit Of A Coup and Warlord. Despite the unusual nature of the course and scoring system this was also the arrival order at the finish. Game One who came second in the first race in the series, was down the pan.

Although he won this race Mark Heeley commented that his lead had been comfortable, but the racing had been reasonably close as one would expect from a one-design class. "We were not miles ahead at all. We were two minutes ahead of the boat behind us at the finish." Heeley added that he had been impressed by the new style of course. "You need a VHF which works well. The only other problem is if they announce the course while you're doing a manoeuvre."

The German Farr 40 is expected to return for the series' next event in two weeks time. Two or three new boats are also expected to join the fleet prior to the Nationals and Europeans in August.

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