Early lead for Sweden
One of the forces behind the recent emergence of Sweden as the Farr 30's newest regional stronghold, Patrick Lindblom had the kind of day a sailor rarely forgets as the 2010 Farr 30 World Championship got underway in Hyeres, France.
"We obviously are very comfortable in the light air, and we feel extremely fast in the conditions we saw today on the water," said crew Martin Nilsson after racing. Team Orca would go on to take two first place victories in both the early morning and late afternoon race, though Pierre-Loic Berthet at the helm of Courrier Dunkerque nearly caught Orca with a last-minute push at the end of Race 1.
Lindblom's crew seemed immune to the bad luck that befell many of the teams, the Swedes picking their way through the gusts and lulls on the Bay of Hyeres to cross the finish line first in the early morning Race 1.
2010 Tour De France a la Voile winner Nouvelle Caledonie was not so lucky. "We were called OCS by the race committee in race 1, and [helmsman] Bernard worked amazingly hard to get back to 6th place by the finish of the race," said owner Vincent Portugal. Soon after the first race, the wind disappeared, with the C.O.Y.C.H. Race Committee sending the fleet ashore to wait for a World Championship-worthy breeze to appear.
Nearly four hours of calms saw the fleet lounging on their tied-up boats in the beautiful late-October sun and 18-degree temperatures. And just as the sailors began packing up to head to their homes and hotels, COYCH Director and Laser champ Régis Bérenguier saw something he liked on the water.
"We go in ten minutes," Bérenguier said over the VHF radio. 40 minutes later, the fleet set off into a 4-5 knot easterly as the sun sank low on the Mediterranean horizon, with Lindblom and Team Orca suffering a second-row start while US skipper Deneen Demourkas led to the left side of the bay.
"We found ourselves in nice pressure on the far right," said Lindblom. "This got us back in the race, and our confidence in the light air just kept getting stronger."
Meanwhile, Demourkas and crew watched their chance at a good result evaporate along with Courrier Dunkerque as the breeze disappeared on the East side of the bay. The wind held - just barely - for the rest of the race, while Team Orca picked up positions each leg to sail to a 5 boatlength lead over the other Swedish entry - Letto Di Pletto - at the finish, with Nouvelle Caledonie just behind.
Friday's meteo shows 10-15 knots of breeze and more beautiful autumn weather, and the Race Committee hopes to get four good races off without delay, while Saturday should see more extreme conditions develop with up to 30 knots expected and the kind of images and excitement the Farr 30 is best known for. Racing will continue on Sunday if necessary.