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10 September 2007, 11:29 am
Tough Day At the Office
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Action from the start line

Rolex Farr 40 World Championship 2007
Copenhagen, Denmark

It was a tough day for tacticians on the Oresund Strait on day one of the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship.
With the northwesterly breeze shifting steadily, and the pressure up and down throughout the day, fortunes were won and lost throughout the day. The race committee ran three races - all windward/leewards, comprising four 2.2 mile legs - and all starts got off cleanly with no general recalls.

Wind speed was close to 20 knots at times and down to below 10 knots during a couple of the races, but mostly in the 14 -16 knot range, nice conditions when it was steady and not shifty - which was rare.

Overall Massimo MEZZAROMA/Antonio Sodo MIGLIORI'S Nerone (ITA) sailed most consistently with a 3-6-1 to edge out Mascalzone Latino by one point overall for the day. MEZZAROMA said, 'It was very tricky and quite shifty. I'm glad we were here to sail for a while before the Worlds. The class is so tough. We've sailed at most of the recent Worlds, except San Francisco. Normally if you are 15th - 20th in the fleet in a place like this you can gain 10 boats (with the shifts).' As to the reason they are sailing so well today, MEZZAROMA added, 'I'm proud to say that we are sailing with the same guys - all Italians for eight years, which isn't easy to do.'

Some top teams clearly have not hit their pace yet and almost all had fairly inconsistent scorelines, and this highlighted the challenging and shifty wind conditions, which are apt to remain for the duration of the regatta. In past Worlds, an average of 7-8 place per race would put a boat in contention overall, though with top boats in the upper scoreline, that most likely won't be the case in Copenhagen.

The general consensus was voiced by tactician Tony REY from Cannonball, who said 'It's going to be a high scoring regatta'. The Italian boat lost their wind instruments on a day that many would argue boats could use all the help they could on the race course.

Winner of the 2nd race was John THOMPSON on Infinity, with Jens CHRISTIANSEN as tactician. While Infinity sails with a core crew that has been racing on the boat for years, there are seven nationalities, including their bowman Scotsman, Scott GRAHAM who they found on the internet last year when they were caught short for crew before Key West Race Week.

Ten years ago THOMPSON won the first-ever Farr 40 regatta held. The regatta, in Fort Lauderdale, had nine boats and of those, THOMPSON, Jim RICHARDSON, and Eduardo de SOUZA RAMOS are still competitors. That was on hull #4, Solution, THOMPSON'S current boat Infinity is seven-years old (hull #84). Ten years later still winning and still having fun. THOMPSON said, 'Not only am I probably the oldest skipper, I'm the oldest boat.' But he has been an avid fan of the class and recently ordered a new Farr 40 that he'll take delivery on in February '08, he added 'all I have to do is get my knees fixed in between and I'll be all set.'

For the 2nd race, Infinity started literally right at the committee boat end with 'some of the race officials probably pulling their feet up, we were really close'. INFINITY stuck to their plan to stay on the right side. At the top mark, the American boat was first boat around and led for the next 2-1/2 legs. Then Mascalzone Latino caught up, John said, 'in the last 200-300 yards, all of a sudden Vincenzo got this huge lefty and sailed around us. We kept trying to sneak by him, and got by. But (coming to the finish line) they were on starboard and we were on port and they had to let us in, if we had gybed they would have gotten us, we made it by five feet.'

While THOMPSON has been in the Farr 40 class since its beginnings, Australian Ivan WHEEN on Sputnik has been in the class only since 2005. On day one Sputnik racked up a 5-30-2 scoreline, seeing both ends of the fleet in the same day, but clearly trending in the right direction. WHEEN said, 'It was cold out there and it was really a day to try to pick the shifts. If you ended up on the wrong side of a shift you got buried. We were lucky in a couple of races and unlucky in another. But the competition is fierce and if you drop your guard for a second they let you know about.'

WHEEN continued, 'There are so many talented people it is just being consistent and perhaps we were just a little inconsistent in the middle race. The very best guys are absolutely consistent almost all the time.'

Sputnik's crew members include several Olympic sailors including tactician Tom KING who won a gold medal in the 470 class in the 2000 Sydney Olympics Games. KING added to WHEEN'S comments, saying, 'As a tactician it was a question of holding one's nerve and being patient. It was enjoyable conditions to race in because there were always opportunities even when you were back in the fleet to get back up to the front again. It was not boring by any stretch of the imagination.'

Racing continues Thursday 29 August with a first race start at 1100; three races are planned.

The Rolex Farr 40 World Championship celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2007. The World Championship has been sailed in North America, Europe or Australia every year since the class was established in 1997.

The Rolex Farr 40 World Championship joins other prestigious Rolex-sponsored 2007 events including the Rolex Fastnet Race, Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, Rolex Big Boat Series and the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

The Opening Ceremony was held at Copenhagen's stunning Opera house, where Commodore David HOLM of the Royal Danish Yacht Club welcomed competitors from 13 countries: Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, UK, Ukraine and U.S.A.

The day's post-race social events at the Farr 40 Lounge at the Royal Danish Yacht Club's headquarters in Tuborg Harbor included the Hilton Race Day awards presentation.

Regatta News (As Amended by ISAF)
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