The sailing conditions off the Casa de Campo resort in La Romana, Dominican Republic lived up to expectations as the Farr 40 fleet finished up a five-race series for the Rolex Farr 40 Pre-Worlds. Ten boats and teams from four countries – United States, Italy, Australia, and Germany – are in the Caribbean to tune up for the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship which will run from April 21 – 24, 2010.
After five races for the Rolex Farr 40 Pre-Worlds, it was Lisa & Martin Hill’s Estate Master (AUS) that finished on top, with Doug Douglass’ Goombay Smash (USA), and defending Rolex Farr 40 World Champion, Jim Richardson’s Barking Mad (USA) in third place.
Though the fleet is smaller than in recent Farr 40 Worlds, the racing was just as tight and competitive: in the five races, eight teams posted scores in the top three, the shifty conditions over the weekend giving all teams a shot at coming out on top.
On Saturday, Principal Race Officer Peter Reggio and his race committee ran three races — two nautical mile leg windward/leeward courses — that gave the fleet of ten boats a taste of the local conditions.
The 2008 Rolex North American Champion Doug Douglass and his Goombay Smash team won the first race of the regatta and went on to finish the first day of racing at the top of the leader board. Lisa and Martin Hill’s Estate Master took second in race one and held off the Nerone (ITA), steered by Alberto Signorini to finish second. Defending Rolex Farr 40 World Champion Jim Richardson’s Barking Mad took the gun in race two ahead of Enfant Terrible (ITA) crossing in second and fellow Italian team Alessandro Barnaba’s Fiamma (ITA) sliding into third.
On Sunday, two more windward/leeward races were run, and going into the fifth and last race, Estate Master was tied with Goombay Smash for first place overall. Both boats had a plan to start at the pin end, but it was Estate Master that pulled it off. Added to that, at the top of the first windward beat, Goombay Smash incurred a penalty for a port-starboard incident and had to do a 7200 turn, which effectively ended their chances of catching Estate Master.
Owner/helmsman Martin Hill plan to start at the pin end paid off, “We noticed there’s a trend at the bottom of the course — there’ s a right breeze and you get to the top mark and it goes left, so ideally you try to start on starboard as far as you can towards the pin, and then tack onto port and go for the top mark. That was our plan and we got down there and no one was around us, so happy days! I don’t know what was wrong, so we tacked and led the entire race. We’re not stupid enough to know that this is a practice race for the Worlds. Still I take any win, and it was lovely – the wind, the sunshine, and just being in the Caribbean, it’s just fantastic here.”
Hill, clearly enthused about his teams Pre-Worlds win, cautioned, “The only thing is there’s always a type of voodoo about winning the Pre-Worlds, it’s bad luck. But I said, ‘I’m not into superstitions, I’ve got to take any international regatta that I can’.
Hill’s wife, Lisa, sails on the boat in the pit position. Apparently a quick learner, she’s only been sailing six years, four of them on their Farr 40. After raising three kids in Sydney, she was looking around for something to do to fill her time. Hill said, “So I thought, well Martin’s not going to stop sailing, and so I sort of turned up one day and said ‘I’m here boys, and they sort of looked horrified’. And I thought, ‘I’ve brought up three kids I think I can do this. Just be patient.’”
Given the distance they had to travel from Australia, Hill and his crew arrived in the Dominican Republic last Saturday a full week before the Pre-Worlds began, to get acclimatized to the time difference. They put the days to good use, sailing in the local conditions. Hill said, “We had a new mast and things to test out. It gave us a lot of confidence in testing the breeze and also we’ve been recording for the last month the wind direction, so we’ve been watching the trend.” “It’s a little obsessive”, he said with a laugh, “but you need a certain amount of confidence. We had the patience to wait for the shifts, we knew that it would come.”
Indicative of several teams whose scores trended up through the series, Alex Roepers’ Plenty (USA) had a second in the last race. Tactician Tony Rey said, “ We pulled some magic out there. We had a reasonable start and hit the first two shifts and sort of put our elbows out from there and tried to put everyone behind us.”
About the upcoming Worlds, Rey said, “It’s going to be shifty enough, especially if we sail close to land – they’ll be plenty of lead changes to follow. This week is about getting off the starting line and being able to go straight for the first eight minutes. If you can do that, without tacking, you’re going to be in the top four at the top mark.”
Added to that is the fleet size which makes it even more critical to sail well, Rey said, “With ten boats you have to be very fast and you have to get a good start, it’s very hard to come back.”
The Rolex Farr 40 World Championship racing begins on Wednesday, April 21 through Saturday, April 24, and is organised by the Casa de Campo Yacht Club and the Farr 40 Class Association. Racing will be led by Principal Race Officer Peter Reggio, with Henry Menin as Jury Chairman. The Race Committee intends to conduct as many races as practical on each scheduled day of racing, with up to a maximum of ten races for the series.
A charity fundraising golf tournament for the competitors, on the famed Pete Dye-designed “Teeth of the Dog” golf course, will be held tomorrow, Monday, April 19. Monies raised from the tournament will be donated to benefit the Haitian disaster relief effort, through Partners in Health (PIH), a Boston-based non-profit organization that has been on the ground in Haiti for over 20 years. PIH operates world-renowned clinics and health care programs with 120 doctors and nearly 500 nurses and nursing assistants in eight sites across Haiti. For more information, go to www.standwithhaiti.org/haiti.
Rolex Farr 40 Pre-Worlds – Final Results
(Position, Name, Owner, Country, R1-R2-R3-R4-R5, Total Points)
1. Estate Master, Lisa & Martin Hill (AUS), 2-4-4-1-1, 12
2. Goombay Smash, Doug Douglass (USA), 1-5-3-2-6, 17
3. Barking Mad, Jim Richardson (USA), 4-1-6-4-4, 19
4. Fiamma, Alessandro Barnaba (ITA), 9-3-1-7-5, 25
5. Nerone, Massimo Mezzarona/Alberto Signorini (ITA), 3-6-2-9-7, 27
6. Enfant Terrible, Alberto Rossi/Roberto Strappati (ITA), 6-2-7-5-10, 30
7. Flash Gordon 6, Helmut & Evan Jahn (USA), 10-9-9-3-3, 34
8. Struntje Light, Wolfgang Schaefer (GER), 5-7-5-8-9, 34
9. Plenty, Alex Roepers (USA), 7-10-8-10-2, 37
10. Transfusion, Guido Belgiorno-Nettis (AUS), 8-8-DNF-6-8, 41