San Francisco's typically sporty September weather added a twist this morning on the third day of the 2011 Farr 30 World Championship; instead of the usual moderate morning winds building in the afternoon, racers were greeted by a somber, steel grey sky - along with a sea state and winds to match its angry hue.
The teams started Race 1 of the day - the seventh race of the Worlds series - in conditions that one sailor described as 'armageddon', despite the beginning of the rougher ebb tide period having barely started. At the start, Groovederci tactician Cameron Appleton placed third place skipper Deneen Demourkas at the pin end of the starting line, with Demourkas turning her position at the start into a lead that would grow with each leg. Second place Barking Mad held a strong second-place spot, with championship leader Scott Easom on Eight Ball further back in third watching his regatta lead disappear. The German team, led by Harald Bruening, held fourth until the leeward gate, when Topas' mainsail halyard lock suffered a failure, forcing Bruening's retirement. New York-based Standard Deviation had a solid start and beat, holding the back of the fleet off to finish with their first top-half score - a sixth place. "We've been in the top five at the top mark for much of the week,"
said trimmer Alan Johnson. "Today, Will [Markel, skipper] did a great job keeping the boat under the rig, and we were able to turn that into a respectable race."
Demourkas' lead was unassailable though, and the action happened just a bit back on the final downwind run. A frustrated Andy Green, tactician for Barking Mad, explained, "Gybing in 28 knots takes perfect timing, and the confused seas at the bottom of the course made finding the right time nearly impossible for us."
Green's late gybe call meant an overpowered final run to the finish line, and the beautiful navy blue boat of Jim Richardson couldn't defend against Eight Ball, which powered through for second place while Richardson's spinnaker flogged. "We couldn't afford to give that point up to Scott [Easom], and we'll have our work cut out for us tomorrow
," Green added.
After the race, Demourkas conferred with North Course PRO Hank Stuart via VHF radio, and given the start of the ebb and the already short, steep, and hugely chaotic waves, Stuart opted to cancel racing for the day. Despite having a clear advantage at the top end of the wind range, winning the last three races, Demourkas thought it was the right decision. "The fact that we're comfortable with this much wind isn't a factor," she said. "Half the fleet was in survival mode, and breaking gear and bodies is no way to race and no way for owners to enjoy their Championship competiton." Demourkas sits three points behind Easom and one behind Richardson going into the final day.
While much of the Farr 30 fleet needed the early finish to recuperate, damage in the fleet was relatively light compared to tens of thousands of dollars worth of sail and rig damage suffered by numerous other Big Boat Series Class competitors forced to retire from their races.
The start of Farr 30 racing has been moved up 30 minutes for the final day of the Champioship to ensure that three good races can be sailed to decide the 2011 Farr 30 World Champion. The 2011 Farr 30 Championship runs through Sunday as part of the Rolex Big Boat Series.
Farr 30 Class Website