In a straightforward race that rewarded speed off the starting line, Canada's Terry McLaughlin sailed Defiant to victory in today's opening race at the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship.
McLaughlin led the intense 25-boat fleet by 20 seconds at the first windward mark and was still holding the same lead after two laps around an eight-mile course. A second race seemed to be going Defiant's way again, with McLaughlin leading at the first two marks, until a rainstorm packing 20-knot breezes rolled in like a freight train to disrupt his performance. "We weren't really set up for it,"
said McLaughlin, Canada's current Rolex Yachtsman of the Year, "and we lost two boats in it and another on the last leg, but I'll take the fourth we ended up with."
In driving rain, the fleet sailed on its ear to a windward mark that could barely, if at all, be seen. The last downwind leg of the course was exhilirating for many, disastrous for others, as huge waves created surfable, sometimes broachable, conditions. Two boats shredded spinnakers.
Atop the leaderboard, McLaughlin has two points over Nerone, skippered by Rome, Italy's Antonio Sodo Migliori. Nerone, the current Farr 40 European Champion, won today's second race and this past weekend's MeesPierson Bahamian Championship, in which Defiant finished second. Also in the top five after today are Italy's two other teams: Bottadiculo, skippered by Giovanni Arrivabene (in third) and Breeze, skippered by recently eliminated America's hopeful Vincenzo Onorato (fifth). Barking Mad, with Jim Richardson of Boston, Mass./Newport, R.I., steering, stands in fourth. "I am very happy with today,"
said Arrivabene. "I just bought the boat last August and we first sailed it only five days ago, so I am new to the Farr 40 class."
Up to four of the typical nine-man Farr 40 crew are allowed to be classified other than Group 1 amateur, while the owners strictly must be amateurs and are the only ones permitted to drive. This combination of class rules has cultivated a tight knit group of owner/drivers who are second to none in ability and a vast pool of talented sailors -- both amateur and professional -- clambering for crew positions.
Great Britain's 2000 Olympic Gold Medallist Iain Percy, who is sailing aboard Katanga, skippered by fellow countryman Robin Patterson, said, "considering that the America's Cup is going on, it's an amazing collection here of owners, skippers, tacticians and crews. There are as big of names here, with Cayard, Kostecki and the rest--as down in New Zealand."
Paul Cayard (USA), a Rolex Yachtsman of the Year who is taking a break from Cup action to sail with Philippe Kahn (USA) aboard Pegasus, was bruised in the ribs during a jibe in today's storm. Pegasus also had bad luck at the start of today's second race, nicking Bottadiculo's stern early in the race for a penalty of a 360 degree turn.
John Kostecki, another America's Cup veteran and Volvo Ocean Race winner from San Francisco, sailed with John Kilroy (USA) aboard Samba Pa Ti to a seventh overall today. Kilroy is a Farr 40 World Champion from 1999 and this year's Farr 40 National Champion.
Today was officially Lewmar Race Day. The event is hosted by the Storm Trysail Club.
Top 10 Results (After 2 Races)
||Massimo Mezzaroma / Antonio Sodo Migliori
||Giovanni Arrivabene / Raffaele Mincione
||SAMBA PA TI
||Alex Geremia / Scott Harris
||John / Deneen Demourkas