Rolex Farr 40 Worlds preview
The standard of competition warming up for the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship 2011 is as good as it gets with world class helmsmen, A-list tacticians and rock star status crew joining Corinthians with their own ammunition as the countdown to the four day world championship begins.
Twenty Farr 40s representing Australia, Germany, Italy, New Zealand and the USA will contest their annual international competition in Sydney from 23-26 February. In an effort to bring racing to the spectators, Farr 40 Australian class president Martin Hill announced today that some of the races will be run within the natural amphitheatre of Sydney Harbour.
The decision to conduct inshore racing will bring the likes of defending America’s Cup royalty James Spithill and John Kostecki into the Harbour, offering locals a rare glimpse of such formidable talent.
In the owner/driver class, the owner must be a non-professional helmsman, which puts the onus squarely on the owner to oversee the campaign, and actively participate by steering the boat to its target speeds.
Recently, Italian co-owner Antonio Sodo Migliori and helmsman Massimo Mezzaroma have found the best pace among their Farr 40 class mates. Nerone is the current Rolex Farr 40 World Champion (and European champion), as well the Italian team handily beat the Farr 40 fleet at the Rolex Trophy in Sydney last December.
“They are an awesome team,” admits Guido Belgiorno-Nettis, head of Transfusion’s Australian challenge. Belgiorno-Nettis lost to Nerone on the final day of the last year’s Rolex Farr 40 World Championship in the Dominican Republic. “We gave them a smell and they knocked us off the perch. You can’t underestimate them, or get too cocky."
The Sydney businessman has invited American Olympian, America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race winning sailor John Kostecki aboard to call tactics, but he’s well aware of the potential shortfalls of a new combination versus an owner and tactician who have spent years together, and subsequently think like twins. A number of key tacticians have switched boats for next week’s Worlds so Belgiorno-Nettis and Kostecki certainly won’t be the only new blend.
Martin Hill, who yesterday wrapped up the Australian Farr 40 Summer Sprint Series, says having the hometown advantage will mean zilch when it comes to Nerone’s ability to read the local conditions, “They are very comfortable in all conditions, they are seasoned campaigners”.
Hill will be flanked by ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year and three-time Laser World Champion Tom Slingsby as tactician, and three-time world champion in the Moth and 49er class, Nathan Outteridge, as crew. “We’ve gone for a younger approach,” said Hill, who is set to challenge Nerone’s stranglehold with Estate Master, the Farr 40 he co-owns with wife Lisa.
The class’ decision to race both inshore and offshore will offer the most demanding racing ever encountered in a Farr 40 world championship according to the Australian class president. Hill said, “Sailing with tidal influence, on flat water and with backwash off Sydney Heads will make it a very testing event. It will produce a good mix of speed and tactics and good old-fashioned luck that should bring some snakes and ladders into the leaderboard. In effect it will give everyone a varied chance.”
Hill rates Transfusion, Lang Walker’s Kokomo and his own Estate Master as Australia’s best chance to repeat Richard Perini’s success in 2005 with Evolution, the last time an Aussie held the trophy aloft.
There will be two divisions racing together in the 10 race series. Those entered in the Corinthian division will be racing with fewer professionals as part of their crew and have a restriction on the number of sails they can register each year. A Corinthian entry could potentially win the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship.
The Rolex Farr 40 World Championship 2011 will preview with an invitational race on Sydney Harbour on Tuesday 22 February.
The following day, Wednesday February 23, the salt spray will start flying when principal race officer Peter 'Luigi' Reggio and his race committee, assisted by members from the host club, the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, sound the starting gun for the Worlds.
The RSYS will host the Farr 40 Australian Championship this weekend, 18-20 February.