Vincenzo ONORATO has finally won the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship, a title that has consistently eluded him since he first took part in 1999. The first three days of the regatta, held in Newport, R.I., were light wind affairs, but with the sea breeze blowing up to 18 knots today, ONORATO'S Mascalzone Latino team turned in a masterful performance.
In addition to the World Cup, ONORATO was presented with a commemorative Rolex timepiece at this evening's Rolex Farr 40 World Championship Awards party, held at Marble House, one of Newport's Gilded Age cottages.
'It was not easy,' admitted ONORATO (Portoferrio, Italy). 'The most difficult thing in this kind of racing is how we handle ourselves, because sometimes it is hard to stay confident. I have tried to win this for many years, and finally I have succeeded.'
In the first race, Eivind ASTRUP (NOR) sailed Norwegian Steam to his second win of the week, although the greater threat to ONORATO'S overnight lead was Opus One, with German owner Wolfgang STOLZ (GER) snatching a third compared with Mascalzone's sixth. In the next race it was Evolution's turn to take the lead, with Richard PERINI (AUS) finally showing some of the form that earned him the world title in Sydney last year. However, another regatta underperformer - in the form of Steve and Fred HOWE'S Warpath (USA) - stole the lead to win the race from Evolution, although of greater interest to the front runners was Mascalzone Latino incurring a 720-degree penalty turn at the first windward mark.
That could have been ONORATO'S championship lost right there, but the determined Neapolitan grabbed back 12 places on the next downwind leg and recovered to 13th by the end of the race. Meanwhile Opus One had sailed another solid race and STOLZ'S seventh place moved him to within three points of Mascalzone Latino.
ONORATO refused to be ruffled by the 720 penalty. He said the key to winning this week was to 'be cool, be concentrated'. He praised tactician Russell COUTTS for keeping the crew calm and focussed: 'Even if things went wrong, I was not upset. Before the last race, Russell told me, 'This is the time to win race.' I said, 'Can we?' And he said, 'Of course!' And we won the race.'
Indeed they did, with Mascalzone Latino launching off the middle of the start line in clear air, leading around the windward mark and dominating the final race from start to finish. Going into that race, Barking Mad was still in contention despite 13,9 from the day's earlier races. At the windward mark Jim RICHARDSON rounded second behind ONORATO, and while the local Newport sailor knew that his chance of victory was slipping away, he was at least looking good for second overall.
|Mascalzone Latino Celebrate
© Daniel Forster/Rolex
Things changed dramatically down the final run to the finish. The wind softened and shifted right at the same time. The boats that gybed early profited from the sudden change in conditions, while Barking Mad was left stranded on one side. The American team dropped from second to twelfth in one leg. Meanwhile Australian Matt ALLEN and his Ichi Ban
slipped down the right side of the run to finish sixth and claim the runner-up spot in the championship. '
That final leg was indicative of our whole regatta,' said Barking Mad tactician Terry HUTCHINSON. 'Obviously there was a shift there and I missed it. We sailed into a light spot, and the fleet sailed by. We didn't quite have it today, didn't quite have it the whole regatta. We battled the entire week. But it just makes you appreciate how hard winning is.' Barking Mad
finished third overall.
Another boat that got left stranded on the final run was Opus One
, which just missed out on the podium. Wolfgang STOLZ commented: 'The last run was a bitter disappointment, dropping 15 places, running out of breeze. But we're very pleased to have got a top 10 result this week.' The German crew finished fourth overall.
owner Matt ALLEN (AUS) was delighted to have grabbed second overall. 'We're ecstatic, it's a great result. Vincenzo, Russell and the guys did a great job and never really opened the door for anyone. They sailed a great regatta and they deserved to win.'
Vincenzo ONORATO has won many championships before, but for him this victory is the sweetest of all. 'I have won four world championships as a helmsman, in IMS racing and in the Mumm 30, but this is the best. Sometimes I have won when I didn't deserve it, but this time we deserved to win. The Farr 40 is the best offshore boat in the world, she's beautiful, she's like a nice blonde. This is the best time of my life.'
The recently created Corinthian Trophy was presented to John THOMSON (Port Washington, N.Y.) and his team on Infinity for having the best performing team that declared itself in the Corinthian category. Basically, those teams have a maximum of two professional sailors on board and a reduced number of new sails in the calendar year. Corinthian Trophy competitors race with the rest of the fleet, and owners who register for the Corinthian trophy are also eligible for winning overall event prizes.
The Service Academy Trophy was awarded to the top military academy crew on board Nimbus
. Helmed by Peete MUST, Nimbus
was one of two teams representing the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, N.Y.
The Rolex Farr 40 Worlds was organized by the Farr 40 Class, Stagg Yachts and the New York Yacht Club. Racing was run by Principal Race Officer Peter Reggio with assistance from the New York Yacht Club race committee.
This evening's Rolex Prizegiving Gala was held at Marble House, one of the Gilded Age 'Newport Cottages.' Designed by Beaux Arts master architect, Richard MORRIS HUNT, it was built (1888-1892) by railroad baron William K. VANDERBILT for his wife Alva's birthday, and it showcases 500,000 cubic feet of white marble. From August 30 - September 9, the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship Regatta Village was based at Goat Island Marina, with Belle Mer serving as the event's Race Headquarters and host of the Media Center. Daily socials for the teams took on the lawn of Belle Mer, overlooking Newport Harbor. The Opening Ceremonies were held at New York Yacht Club's Harbour Court.
The Rolex Farr 40 World Championship is in its ninth year and will celebrate its 10th anniversary in Copenhagen, Denmark in the summer of 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.