An amateur owner-driver class it may be, but winning the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship, due to take place in San Francisco, Calif. on September 8-11, represents one of the toughest challenges in yacht racing.
To ensure victory, each team's crew roster is stocked with Olympic medallists, America's Cup and Volvo Ocean Race veterans, and multi-titled world champions.
Paul CAYARD (Kentfield, Calif.) has recently returned from the Athens Olympics where he finished fifth in the Star class, to resume his post as tactician for John KILROY (Malibu, Calif.) onboard Samba Pa Ti. "In keelboat sailing the Farr 40 has the most professionalism and dedication to training and the top programs are run like small America's Cup or Volvo programs,"
said the former America's Cup skipper and Whitbread Race winner. #
Cayard, the 1998 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year, provides a few tips on what it will take to win. "The Farr 40 fleet is always very competitive and by virtue of the fact that they are one design boats they are very similar in speed and there will be a large group of boats,"
he said. "So, like any one design sailing it's going to be about getting a good start and finding a good lane of clear air on the first beat, to sail well and arrive at the top mark in the top five. Being able to do that consistently will lead to some good results."
To date, 31 boats are due to take part, including many seasoned U.S. campaigns such as Jim RICHARDSON'S (Boston, Mass./Newport, R.I.) Barking Mad, Steve PHILLIPS' (Arnold, Md.) Le Renard, Philippe KAHN'S (Santa Cruz, Calif.) Pegasus and Alex GEREMIA and Scott HARRIS' (Santa Barbara, Calif.) Crocodile Rock.
Europe is well represented with stand-out teams such as Peter de RIDDER'S (Monaco) Mean Machine, Eric MARIS'S (Paris, France) Twins2, Giovanni MASPERO'S (Milan, Italy) Joe Fly and Vincenzo ONORATO'S (Naples, Italy) Mascalzone Latino. The list of 'top campaigns' is a long one.
They will all fight it out with the defending World Champions from Rome, Italy, Massimo MEZZAROMA and Antonio sodo MIGLIORI on Nerone.
Adrian STEAD, tactician on the Italian Mascalzone Latino team, agrees with Cayard's views on the level of competition. "Any one of 10 teams could probably win and I think any one of 20 teams could win a race,"
said the former GBR Challenge team member. "The standard now is so high in the class that people don't make mistakes."
The reason, Stead says is due to a majority of the owners being used to winning in business and wanting to emulate this on the water. "A lot are doing whatever it takes,"
Like other top-level programs most of the Farr 40 teams have been training with world class coaches who have been evident this week in their inflatables out on San Francisco Bay. Some of the teams also have carried out two boat testing, the fast track approach to improving boat speed.
Emirates Team New Zealand afterguard Terry HUTCHINSON is once again on Barking Mad, while ex-Team New Zealand afterguard, turned Olympic Laser sailor, Hamish PEPPER is calling tactics on Australian Richard PERINI'S Evolution.
Other notable sailors taking part include Stu BANNATYNE on Groovederci, Ray DAVIES on Mean Machine, John CUTLER on Fred and Steve HOWE'S Warpath (San Diego, Calif.), as well as 2003 Match Racing World Champion Ed BAIRD on Marc Ewing's Riot (Glencoe, Ill.).