Drawing up the battle lines

The Rolex Farr 40 Worlds to set sail tomorrow

Tuesday April 15th 2008, Author: Dana Paxton, Location: United Kingdom
Sometimes the days can seem endless when you're spending time in a tropical paradise such as Miami Beach, Florida, but not so for the 33 international teams making last-minute preparations for the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship. The regatta - scheduled for 16-19 April and the 11th in the Class's history - has brought together the top names in professional sailing that will be found alongside some of the best amateur sailors in one design racing.

After sailing in the Rolex Farr 40 Pre-Worlds, April 11-12, followed by two days of further sail measurement, crew weigh-in and boat tuning, no one can be accused of slacking off before the big event. Most teams put in full days of training and tuning, and today many can be seen out on the Atlantic Ocean lining up in practice starts and mark rounding maneuvers as boat-handling consistency is one main ingredient for obtaining the top-10 scores needed in each race to assure a victory in this cut-throat fleet..

One of the many boats turning heads in the Pre-Worlds was eventual winner Goombay Smash. With less than a year in Class competition, American owner William Douglass couldn't contain his big grin moments after returning to the dock. "THAT was a lot of fun," he said. "The Goombay always has fun, but I was told it was bad luck to win the Pre-Worlds. I thought you were supposed to save it for the worlds. Being a newcomer on the block it is fun to try and do well. We're getting better. The conditions were tough, they were light and choppy, and getting a good start was helpful."

Sounds like Douglass has already learned the magic words uttered by all Farr 40 tacticians, and likely by Goombay Smash's tactician Ian Walker, 'the key to doing well is getting a good start.'

Only one point separated Goombay Smash from second-place American yacht Ramrod with 2003 World Champion Nerone from Italy one point back in third.

"Second place is great," said Ramrod's owner Rod Jabin of his boat's best result to date. "We achieved everything we set out to do, which was to make sure our team, tactics and our boat speed was on the mark and I think we proved that. I am very, very happy to get second."

Also a relative newcomer to the Class, Jabin credits his crew, especially tactician Gavin Brady. But the real stuff is later this week. "There will be a little bit more pressure and I couldn't be happier with how the crew has come together. We can walk around thinking 'We can play with these guys.' There are some very intimidating players here. We try to impress on the crew that we are as good as anybody out there, but we know we're just a bunch of rednecks from Annapolis. We can do it and what comes out of this is: If we focus and keep our heads down, then watch out. We're coming through."

Over the past 10 years there have been seven world champions - two owners have captured the title twice: Jim Richardson on Barking Mad in 2004 and 1998, the Class's first world championship; and Vincenzo Onorato on Mascalzone Latino who is in Miami to defend the title he has won with tactician Adrian Stead for the last two years.

As the reigning world champion, Onorato admits to having his sights set on a third title in Miami. "Being a double world champion is a lifetime dream. Farr 40 sailing is the best sailing on the planet," said Onorato who has most of the same crew as he did at the 2007 Rolex Farr 40 Worlds in Copenhagen, Denmark, including tactician who also was on board in 2006.

Although Onorato makes it look easy - winning back-to-back world championships - Onorato will face stiff competition from the entire fleet. Considered the most challenging one-design racing in the world, the Farr 40 fleet is known for its high level of competition. Make one mistake and any chance of victory can slip away.

Consistency pays off and that is what Onorato will rely upon. At the 2007 worlds, where 36 Farr 40s competed, Mascalzone Latino scored all top-10 finishes in the nine-race series, and finished 35 points ahead of second-placed Alinghi, owned by Ernesto Bertarelli, with Barking Mad, in third. Bertarelli has with him tactician Brad Butterworth and a core group that includes two crew - Warwick Fleury and Andrew Graham - who also sailed aboard Alinghi when it won the 2001 Farr 40 Worlds.

The boat with the fewest professional sailors onboard, only one, and probably the one boat with the most to gain in this experience is American yacht Nimbus Blue. Crewed by all midshipmen from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) and owned by Hunt Lawrence, this is the second world championship for the boat as it competed in the 2006 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship, in Newport, R.I.

"Having practiced only one day together as a team before coming into this event, I think we did remarkably well," said Chris Branning helmsman. "The first two races we had beautiful starts with clear lanes, allowing us to round the first mark in the top 12 or 14 boats. While some of our mechanics are a bit off the pace, overall we seem to be geling together as a team very well, and I think are poised to have some stellar finishes.

"Our straight line speed felt solid and we have proven we are capable of smooth maneuvers at all corners of the race course; we just need a little more ironing out in some areas and we will be on our way. We are stoked to be here and to be apart of such an amazing test of skill. The competition on the race course is almost unfathomable it is so intense. From the gun to the finish of each race it is a non-stop battle on every inch of the race course."

Brian Giorgio, mainsail trimmer on Nimbus Blue, summed up the team's goals: "Our team's ultimate goal for the Worlds is to become better sailors," he said. "Personally I would like to see us beat five teams and have one top 10 finish. Just the fact that we are here and able to play around with some of these boats is enough for me."

USMMA's Offshore Sailing Director Ralf Steitz, who is sailing onboard John Thomson's Infinity (USA), coordinates the program for Nimbus Blue, but he is not sailing with him as he feels it is a conflict of interest and more importantly they learn without him. "That way the guys get to learn teamwork, leadership and what it is like to have a small group in their command," said Steitz, who recently received US SAILING's Timothea Larr Award for his lifelong commitment to quality sailing education. "We feel it is extremely important to their development and experience for commanding a ship."

Advice Geoff Stagg, the Farr 40 Class organizer, would give Nimbus Blue? "It takes a lot of luck, the stars in alignment, being relaxed and having a good crew sailing together for a long time."

The line-up

Boat Owner Tactician Group 3 crew
ALINGHI Ernesto Bertarelli Brad Butterworth Warwick Fleury, Lorenzo Massa, Pieter van Nieuwerhuyzen
ASTERISK Ole van der Heide Rod Dawson Jesper Feldt, Mikkel Rossberg, Stig Nielsen
ATALANTI Stratis Andreadis Brad Read Thomas Loughborough, Ethan Bixby, Ioannis Grassis
BACKBONE Thomas Kiaer Rasmus Rasmussen Mads Christensen, Lars Knudson
BARKING MAD Jim Richardson Terry Hutchinson James Baxter, Morgan Trubovich, Zach Hurst
CALVI NETWORK Carlo Alberini Gabriele Benussi Lorenzo Bodini, Claudio Celon, Morenz Damonte
CANNONBALL Dario Ferrari Tiziano Nava Larry Leonard, Gaetano Granara, Federico Valenti
DSK COMIFIN Danilo Salsi Pietro D’Ali Andrea Casale, Nuno Barreto, Riccardo De Magistris
ESTATE MASTER Lisa & Martin Hill Stephen McConaghy Michael Dunstan, Scott Hinton, Morgan White
FIAMMA Alessandro Bamaba Tomasso Chieffi Lou Varney, Alberto Fantini, Michele Carinoni
FLASH GORDON Helmut Jahn Bill Hardesty David Gerber, Matt Cassidy, Joe Londrigan
GOOMBAY SMASH William Douglass Ian Walker Matt Reynolds, Brian Fisher, Matt Cornwall
GROOVEDERCI 127 John Demourkas Cameron Appleton Keith Kilpatrick, Sean Couvreux, Luke Molloy
GROOVEDERCI 57 Deneen Demourkas Dave Perry Phil Harmer, George Peet, Brett Jones
HEARTBREAKER Robert Hughes Mark Ivey Mike Buckley, Wally Cross, Bill Bennett
HOOLIGAN Marcus Blackmore Cameron Dunn Mark Bradford, Tim Wiseman, Sam Hunt
INFINITY John Thomson Jens Christensen Ralf Steitz, Tony Rae, Matt Fries
JOE FLY Giovanni Maspero Francesco Bruni Daniene Cassinari, Alberto Bolzan, Matteo Auguadro
KOKOMO Lang Walker Colin Beashel John Flannery, Bruce Clark, Richard Allanson
MASCALZONE LATINO Vincenzo Onorato Adrian Stead Gerry Mitchell, Andrea Ballico, Davide Scarpa
MEAN MACHINE Peter de Ridder Ray Davies Dirk de Ridder, Jono Swain, Alan Smith
MORNING GLORY Hasso Plattner Dean Barker Sean Clarkson, James Dagg, Peter Doriean
NANOQ HRH Crown Prince Frederik Bouwe Bekking Theis Palm, Kasper Helweg-Larsen
NERONE Massimo Mezzaroma Vasco Vascotto Massimo Bortoletto, Maciel Cicchetti, Paolo Bottari
NIMBUS BLUE Hunt Lawrence/USMMA Bill Liberty
OPUS ONE Wolfgang Stolz Kelvin Harrap Rob Salthouse, Jonathan Mark Sims, Jon Gunderson
PLENTY Alexander Roepers Chris Larson Paul Westlake, Jon Ziskind, Steve Inman
RAMROD Rod Jabin Gavin Brady Simon Minipro, Joe Gibson, Mitch White
SILVER BULLET Henrik Jansen Jes Gram-Hansen Michael Hestbek
SLED Takashi Okura Tony Rey Alan McGlashan, Chuck Brown, Toshiro Honda
STRUNTJE LIGHT Wolfgang Schaefer Michael Coxon Conan Hunt, Willem v Waay, Guy Hewson
TWINS Erik Maris Gildas Philippe Thierry Fourchier, Philippe Mourniac, Jean Ponce Sebastien
WARPATH Fred & Steve Howe Paul Cayard Grant Loretz, Greg Gendall, Dave Armitage

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