Struntje Light clings on
The Miami Beach Invitational was decided by two incredibly close finishes that happened just seconds apart. First, Enfant Terrible edged Plenty by a bow length in the battle for first. No sooner had those boats crossed the line than Struntje Light nipped Flash Gordon 6 by less than half a boat length in the fight for third.
Those two results made all the difference as skipper Wolfgang Schaefer and his team on Struntje Light scored a narrow one-point victory over Plenty. Had either of those two head-to-head battles gone the other way, skipper Alex Roepers and the boys aboard Plenty would have been the overall winners.
"That is exactly the way we like it. Very close, very exciting racing," said Schaefer, who earned his first Farr 40 class victory since the 2010 Sardinia Cup.
It was an impressive performance by Struntje Light, which led at the end of racing all four days of the regatta. Peter Holmberg called tactics as Schaefer steered the German entry to a pair of first place finishes and three runner-up results in the 10-race series to post a low score of 31 points.
"It feels great. We are very, very happy," said Schaefer, a surgeon who resides in Lueneburg, Germany. "We were a little bit worried because we had old sails, but we had good speed downwind and Peter did a tremendous job the whole regatta. We also have very good trimmers and they make life easy for me."
Schaefer's crew includes five Italians in Massimo Bortoletto (main trimmer), Cesare Bozzetti (jib trimmer), Francesco Coari (mast), Lorenzo de Felice (downwind trimmer) and Matteo de Luca (foredeck). Angela Schaefer served as navigator for her husband while Daniel Zenker is the other German aboard.
"It was a hard-fought win and those always taste the best," said Holmberg. "We had very tricky conditions out there all week. I think the key was to get a feel for what the wind was doing on a particular day. It required a loose style of sailing and be ready to make adjustments because things could change from one leg to the next."
Holmberg praised Schaefer for his steady hand on the helm, saying "Wolfgang did a great job. He has that surgeon's style on the tiller - very precise, very focused."
Making victory even sweeter was the fact Schaefer shared the experience with his wife, whom he called a terrific sailor." The couple has been sailing together for 45 years and has won all sorts of major events such as the Sydney-Hobart and the Fastnet Race to name a few.
It was a tough outcome for Roepers and the Plenty team to swallow as they were oh-so-close to winning the regatta. Plenty had a tremendous final day with results of second and third, but will regret getting caught and passed by Enfant Terrible at the very end. Plenty rounded the second windward mark about a boat length ahead of the Italian entry, but the two boats split on the run and when they converged at the finish the positions had switched.
"It was very difficult to lose the regatta in the final 100 yards. I really thought we had it, but Peter Reggio told me that Enfant Terrible beat us by four feet," said Roepers, referring to the principal race officer who had to call the remarkably close finish.
Plenty won three races and finished fourth or better in five others in totaling 32 points. A runner-up finish was rather impressive considering the team had not sailed together since the 2012 World Championships in mid September. Annapolis-based pro Chris Larson called tactics for Roepers, who sailed under the banner of his Atlantic Investment Management.
"We feel good about the boat and the new sails. The whole crew came together and competed hard all week," Roepers said. "This is a good start to the season. We are looking forward to Annapolis and trying to build on this."
Enfant Terrible was the clear-cut Boat of the Day with bullets in both races. Skipper Alberto Rossi and tactician Vasco Vascotto sorted out a rig tuning issue that led to some poor placements the first two days of the regatta, allowing the reigning world champions to finish strong by winning three of the last four races.
"We are really happy because we understand what the problem was with the boat. We solved the problem and came back to sail fast," Rossi said. "The crew worked really hard and really well. In my opinion, we were the fastest boat today."
The Farr 40 class will reconvene for its next event the weekend of May 13-16 in Annapolis with competition being held on the Chesapeake Bay.
1, Struntje Light, Wolfgang Schaefer, Germany, 1-2-1-2-7-5-4-2-4-3=31
2, Plenty, Alex Roepers, New York, USA, 7-1-3-1-4-4-6-1-3-2=32
3, Enfant Terrible, Alberto Rossi, Italy, 4-5-7-5-2-6-1-3-1-1=35
4, Flash Gordon 6, Helmut Jahn, Chicago, USA, 3-3-5-6-1-2-7-7-2-4=40
5, Barking Mad, Jim Richardson, Newport, USA, 6-6-4-3-3-1-2-4-7-7=43
6, Charisma, Nico Poons, Monaco, 2-7-2-4-6-7-3-6-6-5=48
7, Groovederci, John Demourkas, Santa Barbara, USA, 5-4-6-7-5-3-5-5-5-6=51