There’s a distinctive swagger amid the Australian Farr 40 class. Four top ten finishes at the recent international title, a new batch of super keen owners for the 2014-15 season and preparations underway to host the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship in 2016 have injected vim and vigour into the enduring one design fleet.
Numbers are not only holding in Australia, they have swollen this season with the addition of Bob Bennett and Enigma (RPAYC), Carl Russett and Windy Too (RPAYC), Rob Pitts and Double Black (SYC, previously Bribie Star) and Rod Jones and Kindergarten (MHYC/MYC, previously Sputnik). Gordon Ketelbey dabbled with the Farr 40s in the closing stages of last season and committed to the upcoming series with his purchase of one of Guido Belgiorno-Nettis’ former Transfusions, now called Zen.
Class debutant Rodney Jones says, “Coming into the class the thing I picked up on more than anything is how excited they are to have new blood. The class has gone out of their way to open doors, to find us berthing and technical support. That was one of the strongest reasons for buying in.”
Jones has been absent from the one design arena since dipping out of what was formerly the SB3s class, now the SB20. He says he would have entertained buying a Farr 40 without the next world title heading to Sydney, but the announcement definitely sealed the decision. In fact he’s opted to go straight into the professional category for his first season. All Farr 40 crews have the option to race in the professional or Corinthian division, with a different set of rules governing each.
“The opportunity to do a world championship on home waters was certainly a tipping point,” Jones says. “We are going straight into the professional level because there’s not a lot of time to get up to speed before the worlds come to Sydney. We want to be genuinely competitive, but just because we have ticked the professional boat box doesn’t mean we are a professional team. Rather it’s a mindset.”
Kindergarten is competing for Middle Harbour Yacht Club, where it will live for the season, and Mooloolaba Yacht Club. A mixed Queensland and NSW crew includes familiar names Bucky Smith, Mick Slinn and Ben Lamb.
“We are aiming for a minimum 10 boats at each of the state titles and up to 15 at the national championship in Sydney next March,” forecasts Andrew Hunn, the newly elected class President and co-owner of Voodoo Chile with Lloyd Clark. Past President Guido Belgiorno-Nettis stepped down at the season launch earlier this month, but will remain very involved in all class matters.
“The class has seen a significant renewal of interest in North America and Australia and the prospects for our upcoming season are good,” Hunn adds. “Owners rotating has revitalised a number of other programs, which is healthy, and likewise we welcome our newest recruits who bring fresh skill sets and energy.
“Our continuing relationship with Aberdeen Asset Management has been a significant factor in the class’ resurgence and we hope to continue this partnership moving forward. Our other partners are the yacht clubs that host us and we look forward to building on those strong relationships. Our season kicks off December 6-7 with the opening Farr 40 One Design Trophy when the fleet makes its long-awaited return to the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club and Pittwater, and we are excited about Sandringham Yacht Club staging our Victorian title for the first time,” Hunn added.
In the New Year three Farr 40 state titles in two months will rotate through Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales, all with the support of the class’ major sponsor for the third year, Aberdeen Asset Management. The John Calvert-Jones Trophy National Championship scheduled for March 25-28, 2015 out of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron on Sydney Harbour caps off the season.
Aberdeen Asset Management’s Australian managing director Brett Jollie says, “Aberdeen is very proud to be partnering with the Farr 40s again. The last two years have been fantastic for us. The guests we take out love it; it’s such a unique experience. There’s a lot of corporate entertainment on offer, this is something very different that our guests can get up close to.” Jollie also made special mention of Australia’s results at the recent world championship, “The Aussies certainly showed how competitive they are on the world stage.”
In terms of top ten results Australia out-performed all other countries at the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship in San Francisco in October. The most significant trophy went to American Alex Roepers and Plenty with International Farr 40 Class President Martin Hill and Estate Master from Sydney placing second, Hunn and Clark’s Voodoo Chile from Tasmania fifth, and two more Sydney boats, Lang Walker’s Kokomo and Transfusion sixth and ninth respectively.
The Farr 40 class endures around the globe and four-time world champion tactician, Italy’s Vasco Vascotto, gave his thoughts as to why at the recent world title. “There are many factors (why the Farr 40 boat has been a success). When it all started it was a boat that was ten years ahead of its time. The price-quality relationship was fantastic; it was well managed and brought forward with intelligence.”
– Lisa Ratcliff/Australian Farr 40 Media