As it turned out, the rain never arrived although Hutchinson said he saw the wind top out at 32 knots in the most severe gust. There were accidental gybes, broaches and flailing spinnakers aplenty, but fortunately no serious damage to crew or equipment.'Hopefully we didn't jinx ourselves, but I think every time you go out to race you've got to go out to win,' said Terry HUTCHINSON, after a hair-raising, but exhilarating day of racing that led to Jim RICHARDSON's Barking Mad (Boston, Mass./Newport, R.I.) winning the Belle Mer Farr 40 Pre-Worlds Regatta. Barking Mad sits in pole position going into the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship this week in Newport, Rhode Island, following a solid performance on the second and concluding day.
In the first race of the day, Mascalzone Latino launched off the pin end of the start line, sailed on starboard tack for three minutes, found a good wind shift and crossed the fleet. Vincenzo ONORATO (Portoferria, Italy), with tactician Russell COUTTS at his side, never put a foot wrong and the Italian team stretched out to an unassailable lead, crossing the line 40 seconds ahead of Barking Mad, with Wolfgang STOLZ's Opus One (Frankfurt, Germany) in third. With wind sweeping down in narrow bands across the course, and big wind shifts thrown in for good measure, the position-changing in the middle of the fleet was immense. At one point down the first run, Alinghi pulled almost level with Barking Mad as it found an enormous gust down the left-hand side. For a moment it looked as though Ernesto BERTARELLI (Valencia, Spain) could grab a top-three position by the leeward gate, but then the wind disappeared just as rapidly as it had arrived, while it was the turn of the boats on the right to pick up and start planing at high speed. By the bottom of that leg Alinghi had dropped more than 20 places and finished 24th across the finish line.
Leader from the first day, Richard PERINI (Sydney, Australia), saw the regatta lead slip away in a single moment as his Evolution came into the windward mark on port tack, searching for a gap in the wall of boats stacked up on starboard. With nowhere to go he had to tack underneath fellow Australian Lang WALKER, who luffed his Kokomo head to wind to avoid damage. Perini duly took his 720-degree penalty turn immediately, dropping out of the top 10 to 25th at the finish. Then rudder bearing problems in the final race meant Evolution had to come home early, with the defending World Champion falling from overnight leader to 16th overall.
In the second and final race of the day, Mean Machine shot out of the middle of the start line, Peter DE RIDDER (Monaco) steering his pink-hulled boat to a big lead around an even windier race track. However there was no gun at the finish, Mean Machine was called over early at the start, so race five victory went to Warpath, giving Steve HOWE (San Diego, Calif.) second overall behind Barking Mad whose sixth place proved sufficient for regatta victory by 7 points. First non-American boat was Australian Matt ALLEN's Ichi Ban in third, with Mascalzone Latino in fourth overall.
Now the teams have three days of training or resting before the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship begins on Wednesday, September 6. Many of the familiar names have shown their face at the front of the fleet so far, and while Barking Mad was the most consistent over the past two days, Jim Richardson knows how hard it is to replicate success in a fleet where winning and losing is frequently measured in inches.
From 30 August - 9 September, all of the teams will be based at the Goat Island Marina, with Belle Mer serving as the event's Race Village and host of the Media Center. Social activities will take place at New York Yacht Club's Newport clubhouse Harbour Court, Belle Mer, and culminate at the Rolex Awards Party, held at the historic Gilded Age mansion Marble House on Bellevue Avenue.
The Rolex Farr 40 World Championship is in its ninth year and will celebrate its 10th anniversary in Copenhagen, Denmark 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 2006 events including the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, Rolex Swan Cup, Rolex Big Boat Series and the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
For more information about the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship, including the full list of entries, go to the official event website farr40worlds.com. Results also will be posted on New York Yacht Club's website www.nyyc.org