Simon Whiston, owner driver of Smile, was awarded the winner's trophy in the inaugural Alfa Romeo Farr 40 OD Series Trophy.
He was presented the trophy by Mr. Kevin Wolfe, Managing Director of Alfa Romeo, the company which initiated the event. Nine Farr 40's contested the four-day twilight series which was hosted by the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and sailed on Sydney Harbour from Monday February 19- Thursday February 24, 2002.
Whiston is on the come-back trail after a slump in racing form. He represented Australia in the Kenwood Cup in his previous 'Smile', a Beneteau 40.7. Following the purchase of a Farr 40, he gained a 3rd place in the Ord Minnett Regatta in 2000 and was 2nd in the Australian Championships. In 2001, Smile won the Farr 40 OD Division in the Strathfield Pittwater & Coffs Harbour Offshore Series. As a selection race for the Admiral's Cup, the win garnered Whiston and Smile a representative position in Australia's team for the 2001 Admiral's Cup (which was subsequently cancelled).
"Then we hit a slump," said Whiston. "The boat wasn't set up and needed to be tuned.. I walked away from my last event knowing you can't go out unless you are 100 per cent prepared. Preparation is the key," he said.
His comeback may be too late. Whiston is thinking of selling his boat to devote more time to his young family. "My wife is trying to convince me otherwise," he said, "and so is my crew"
Whiston's multinational crew include English, Irish, Kiwis and Australians. Among them is around the world sailor Simon Patchett, Laser Olympic Bronze Medalist Michael Blackburn and current NSW Laser State Champion Doug McKain.
"Sailing a Farr 40 OD is tactically very similar to sailing in Lasers," says McCain who is tactician. "Both are One Design classes and have large fleets."
McCain's tactics were the key to Whiston's win in the Alfa Romeo Series
"We had to get at least a 2nd to beat Neville Crichton's Team Shockwave overall," said McGain. "At the top mark we were fifth. We decided to go low, everyone else went high. Neville Crichton took line honours and we just got in, less than half a boat length ahead of Corinthian Doors, (Richard Perini) which was 3rd.
Richard Perini, who is Australian Class President of the Farr 40 OD Association said, "A twilight regatta was a bit of an experiment for us. We are grateful to Alfa Romeo for their support and to the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron for their assistance. It has been a great success, particularly for those of us with businesses who still want to sail in a series. This won't be the last event we do like this."
1 Smile, Simon Whiston, 2, 1, 6, 2, 5pts
2 Team Shockwave, Neville Crichton, 1, 8, 4, 1, 6 pts
3 Corinthian Doors, Richard Perini, 7, 5, 1, 3, 16 pts
4 Emotional Hooligan, Marcus Blackmore, 5, 2, 5, 5, 12 pts
5 Kokomo, Lang Walker, 6, 6, 3, 4, 13 pts