Three more solid results in yesterday's races on San Francisco Bay put Jim Richardson's (Boston, Mass./Newport, R.I.) Barking Mad team into a nearly unbeatable position going into the final day of the Rolex Farr 40 Worlds.
With a scoreline of 8-7-5, Richardson's team now has 38 points overall, leading 2003 world champion Nerone owned by Massimo Mezzaroma and Antonio sodo Migliori (Rome, Italy), which is in second place with 73 points. Going into the final day Italian boats hold three of the top four positions, with Marco Rodolfi's (Comasco) TWT in third and America's Cup boss Vincenzo Onorato's (Milan) Mascalzone Latino one point behind in fourth.
Barking Mad almost lost its comfortable lead at the start of the second race when it was forced out to the left-hand side of the course. When it tacked back, Richardson's team lost further ground by ducking several right-of-way boats coming through on starboard tack.
"We got around the buoy probably in 26th place and Nerone was third or something," said Richardson. "We jibed right around the spacer mark and caught a great puff, so we gained probably 10-12 places on the run." They followed this with a better second beat and another good run to finish seventh to Nerone's 11th. "We saw the potential to lose a lot of our lead to Nerone in that race, but the crew worked really, really hard. We were
sweating bullets trying to make the boat go faster and trying to make every maneuver as good as we could," continued Richardson.
While Nerone is still hanging on to second place, tactician Vasco Vascotto admitted that today was one of the worst days of their entire Farr 40 campaign. "Come back for the Italians? It was a comeback into last position for us," said Vascotto. "We did a really bad job. The other Italians did a good job. In the second race we were third and we hit a mark. So we did a 360 and lost some positions, but worse, we lost control." Vascotto added
that the mark they hit was one of the leeward marks, and at the time there were no other boats around. "That was the stupid thing," he said. "We did a lot of stupid mistakes, which is why we are a little upset."
Despite a slow start to this regatta, Onorato's team had today's best results, with a 2-1-6. 'A good day at the office' as British tactician Adrian Stead put it. In race one they started at the pin end and prospered from a shift and the tide up the left side. At the top mark they led but were being chased hard by Chuck Parish's (Hillsborough, Calif.) Slingshot,
on which local expert Dee Smith is calling tactics, and Steve Phillips's (Arnold, Md.) Le Renard, with Olympic medallist and Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Mark Reynolds on board. While Slingshot pulled ahead to win the race, Onorato's team hung in by winning a final dash to the finish line against Le Renard and took second.
Mascalzone Latino won the second race. The Italian team rounded the weather mark in the top group and made gains on the run. "The key is to get away fast at the top mark and put some distance on the fleet," said Stead. "It takes so little to be at the back in this fleet. We learned some pretty harsh lessons at the Pre-Worlds last weekend when we wrapped ourselves around the windward mark twice. So we did some work on short tacks - ducking
and stuff like that - and it has all helped."
On John and Deneen Demourkas' Farr 40, Groovederci, Deneen drove to victory in today's final race. "We started where we wanted to, at the [committee] boat, and immediately tacked right," she said. "It was the time of day to do that and we just kept going. At the weather mark, Heartbreaker was to leeward of us and we were both laying and they came up underneath us." Groovederci overtook Heartbreaker on the run to take the lead, holding this until the end of the usual long final beat to the finish.
The Demourkases first met through sailing in Santa Barbara. This year John, one of the founders of Nexxus Haircare Products Co., has only managed to helm 'their' boat when Deneen was in Europe this past summer competing in the month long Tour de France a la Voile in their Mumm 30. "I wanted to buy a boat that we could share," recounted a resigned husband, "but the sharing didn't happen and it got to the stage where she had way too much experience at the helm." On board they sail with New Zealander Stu Bannatyne as
tactician, a former crewmember on illbruck when it won the Volvo Ocean Race.
Deneen said that she doesn't get any breaks being a woman in this fleet. "I try threatening them: 'woman driver - look out!' But they don't buy it," she said. On the subject of why there aren't more women drivers in this fleet she said, "I don't know. I have never understood why there aren't more. I guess it is not a role that women are accustomed to in sailing. It takes some money to do, particularly in this fleet. But I would encourage them
that if this was something that they ever thought they wanted to do, they should do it."
Two final races are due to be held tomorrow at the Rolex Farr 40 Worlds and the Barking Mad crew will be playing it safe. "The key to winning is by not making mistakes," said Richardson. "We are not celebrating yet." At a Farr 40 Class Association meeting yesterday, the creation of a Corinthian trophy for all Farr 40 racing, set for introduction in 2005.
"Boats will race within the Farr 40 class rules, with the additional restrictions that only two professionals will be allowed and the allowance of three new sails per year in order to qualify for the trophy," said Renee Mehl, Farr 40 class secretary. "Regional fleet growth is expected and enthusiasm is high amongst both current and potential owners."
Two races are planned for today, the fourth and final day of racing.