September Report

I have just returned from a couple of really good events. First was the Rolex Farr 40 Worlds in Newport, Rhode Island, at the end of August. For many years, the F40 was THE class, attracting all the talent, and having some really big fleets and very close racing. The last few years have seen newer and faster classes emerge, and some of the owners have migrated away. But the die-hard class devotees have stuck with the class, and the racing is great. The boat is a good size, 40 feet, with ten crew, the owners drive, and only four professionals are allowed, the other six being amateurs (non industry pros). The highlights for me is the great tactical racing which takes place, not being an uncomfortable hiking fest like on some of the newer sport boats, and the mature nature of both the owners and tacticians in the class, which plays out on the race course. I served as tactician on the German entry Struntje Light. We finished fourth at last year’s worlds, and had hopes of another top five result. The team decided to introduce some new sails at the last minute, and I have to say it was a mistake, as we never found good speed throughout the event. This is a common mistake, as teams often put a lot of hope into new, fresh sails providing them with the silver bullet. But in all reality, it takes time to settle in and learn how to get the proper (fast) shape in the sail from fine tuning the set up of the rig, and just learning the nuances of new shapes and getting comfortable with them. So in the end we sailed a good regatta and rode our horse as hard as we could, and ended up 9th for the series, about where we belonged.

Next up for me was the Rolex Maxi Cup and Mini Maxi Worlds in Sardinia during the first week of September. This is one of the biggest events of the summer and attracts some of the best sailors from around the world. Classes included the Mini Maxis (72 feet max), Maxi, Super Maxi, and Wally. I was tactician on the Richael/Pugh 82 HIGHLAND FLING racing in the Maxi class. We had 5 days of great racing, doing coastal courses around all the rocks and islands off of Porto Cervo. The wind was on the light side compared to recent years, with only 5-15 knots, and mostly from the East. We started out pretty strong, wining the first two days of racing. Unfortunately our competitors got much better over the following days, and three of us went into the final day virtually tied, so that the winner of the final race, would win the series. We had a great start, and were leading twenty minutes into the race when we had a bit of a set-back. Like most boats our size and bigger, all our systems and winches are hydraulically driven, and powered by an engine or generator. Unfortunately our engine failed, and it took one of our crew about 20 minutes to get it back on line. During this period we sail in a very compromised state, with minimal maneuvers, and all of them being very slow. We calculated that we lost between two and three minutes to our competitors during this period. Once back on line, we sailed a great race, but in the end, we finished third…by 2:30 ! Ouch! Very frustrating, but that is reality on some of these more complex machines we are racing these days. Our team in fact did an incredible job to sail as well as we did while disabled, so we all walked away feeling OK about our final result, considering the circumstances.

So two good regattas back-to- back, and now a couple weeks at home to relax and recharge the batteries before my next event at the end of September in St. Tropez France.


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