Racing at the Rolex Farr 40 Worlds was canned today, halfway through the first race of the day. This was disappointing for all involved – the race committee that had worked hard to get the course in place, the competing crews that had waited patiently for the wind to settle and Guido Belgiorno-Nettis, owner of Transfusion (AUS), whose crew had chiseled out a handy lead in what racing there was. Going into day three, with positions unchanged, Transfusion leads Barking Mad (USA) and Nerone (ITA).
Principal Race Officer Peter ‘Luigi’ Reggio had been hopeful when the Race Committee boat dropped the AP (postponement) flag at 14.10 local time: “Early on it looked like we were going to have some good races. We had 8-10 knots from 190–205°, so it was fine when we started the first race.”
A clean start saw Alessandro Barnaba’s Fiamma (ITA) secure the pin with Massimo Mezzaroma and Alberto Signorini’s Nerone on her hip. Transfusion and Jim Richardson’s Barking Mad took up position closer to the Race Committee boat. The first beat was pretty uneventful with the left side of the course appearing favoured. Transfusion and Barking Mad cruised into the top mark in close company, but unopposed on port tack, as Belgiorno Nettis explained: “Tom Slingsby, our tactician, got us a very good start. We had a nice lane, which we worked and built on. We managed to keep it going all the way up. We didn’t get interfered with too much, nobody was tacking on top of us and we were able to call most of the shots. Barking Mad came across at us at one point, but we managed to sit on them for the last part of the beat, virtually on the port lay line.”
A 10° swing in the wind to the right led to a course change, but gave little warning of what lay ahead. Transfusion rounded a boat length ahead of Barking Mad, with Nerone in third. The overnight top three taking up where they had left off the day before. The wind was manifestly softening during the run and as the leaders rounded the leeward mark the race was rewritten from potential thriller into a complete farce. Luigi was quick to call time, “on the run down a big huge black cloud decided to show up over our left shoulder and sucked out all the velocity. When boats got to the leeward gate everything shuffled up. We abandoned at that point because it was just not going to be fair. This is a Worlds. The racing has to be as fair as possible and this was not.”
The Race Committee kept everyone on the water for as long as possible, but finally called time at 15.00, accepting that the wind was not going to play ball. Positions therefore remain unchanged and whilst extremely disappointed not to get a race in, Belgiorno Nettis was looking on the bright side: “It was a pretty challenging day. It was extremely disappointing not to be able to continue the race having worked so hard to get to where we were. When Luigi called it off, I was thinking ‘boy, that was a lot of hard work for nothing’. But then the pressure was off. The boys went for a swim and I couldn’t resist it either. At the moment we’re still where we were yesterday and that’s nice I suppose.”
Racing continues tomorrow, Friday, April 23 with a first warning signal at 11.00. The Rolex Farr 40 World Championship concludes on Saturday, April 24.