The fourth day of the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship saw Massimo MEZZAROMA crowned as the new world champion after another impressive performance.
Three races were run on the last day of the event, and Mezzaroma's team, which includes tactician Vasco VASCOTTO, had effectively won the regatta with a race to spare after posting a second and a first in the first two races. Second overall was Michael ILLBRUCK'S Nela and third was Jim RICHARDSON'S Barking Mad.
The Yacht Club Costa Smeralda's Race Committee succeeded in its ambitious task of catching up on Friday's lost races, nine of the ten scheduled races were run. Wind conditions yesterday were again near the top of the range although sunshine and warm waters meant that spectacular action and enjoyment was again to the fore.
Principal Race Officer Peter REGGIO had brought the fleet out an hour earlier than originally scheduled to try and get three races in, the early rise not suiting Jim RICHARDSON'S Barking Mad however as the dark blue American boat was recalled from a premature start in the first race.
The 37-boat fleet opted mostly for the left hand side of the course again although the first two boats at the top mark, Scott HARRIS and Alex GEREMIA' s Crocodile Rock and Michael ILLBRUCK'S Nela found the right to be the side to be on, rounding the first mark in the top two slots, with the ever present Nerone following round in third place. The order remained the same for the next lap until Mezzaroma's boat again found overdrive on the last run to collect a handy second place.
The second start saw Richardson's Barking Mad win the start at the committee boat end and storm off upwind. The points leader Nerone starting further down the line and Mark HEELEY'S GBR-25 all came together near the starboard tack layline for a long stretch to the mark on port. With Heeley to windward and Nerone to leeward the Richardson's American boat was eventually squeezed back into the pack, the former two rounding the mark in good order behind Vincenzo ONORATO'S Breeze and Michael ILLBRUCK'S lately consistent Nela.
The port tack layline near the weather mark is always a dangerous place to be. Now firmly in the pack on the approach to the top mark Barking Mad on port, just got across the bow of Crocodile Rock before throwing in a hasty tack to windward. Crocodile Rock promptly came up right in the wind shadow, the crew on the weather rail could just watch as the mainsheet trimmer on Barking Mad eased the sheet to accelerate letting the boom run along the side of the leeward boat removing all the stanchions and lifelines to the mast, the last crewmember in the line sitting out to windward, co-owner Alex GERMIA, also collecting the boom in her face. Crocodile Rock retired, Barking Mad flew an 'I' flag accepting a 20% penalty, but the incident was to cost Richardson dearly when he ended up in the protest room later, was disqualified and lost any remaining chances of winning the championship.
Back at the front of the fleet Onorato's Breeze led all the way down the run and opted for the port rounding of the gate and the right hand side of the second beat. Breeze lost one place on the second beat to Eivind ASTRUP'S Norwegian Steam before the second weather mark and then lost another four when the spinnaker sheet became disconnected from the sail in the set. Mezzaroma's Nerone, along with Wolgang Schaefer's Struntje Light, pounced at this point and moved through to eventually finish first and second at the finish line, with Illbruck's Nela finishing in third.
By now the battle was for second place overall with Nerone having only to finish out of third last place to collect overall honours. Illbruck's Nela, with John KOSTECKI calling the shots, had started the regatta slowly but had had nothing but a string of single digit results from the second day. Ultimately it was John COUMANTARIS' Bambakou that collected third overall, followed by Ernesto BERTARELLI'S Alinghi in fourth.
The next Rolex Farr 40 Worlds will be in San Francisco in September 2004.
Top Ten (After Nine Races)