Today nineteen international crews will commence racing in San Francisco for the coveted Rolex Farr 40 World Championship title. Teams representing Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Turkey and the United States will contest the 17th edition of the competition sponsored by Rolex since 2002. Racing concludes on Saturday 18 October with four days of intense action forecast.
Aboard identical 40-foot yachts, the teams will compete on fast-paced and technically demanding courses on the Berkeley Circle – touted as the best place to sail on San Francisco Bay – with the warning signal for the first race given each day at noon local time.
Spectacular place to sail
“It’s one of the most iconic sailing locations in the world,” commented Farr 40 Class Manager Geoff Stagg when asked why the class has chosen to return to hold a world championship here for the third time and for the first time since 2004. “Nothing beats San Francisco Bay. There are so many things happening: wind, tide, the bridge, fog. It’s just a spectacular place to sail. And of course the wonderful St. Francis Yacht Club, which is hosting the racing, is one of the most prestigious clubs of the world.”
The Farr 40s were competing in San Francisco just last month during the annual Rolex Big Boat Series in order to better prepare for this world championship which has twice previously been held in the City by the Bay (1999 and 2004).
The 1999 world championship was won by a local sailor, Jim Kilroy on Samba Pa Ti; while in 2004, Jim Richardson won his second (of three to date) Rolex Farr 40 World Championship title. Richardson is back for the 17th edition, chartering the Australian-flagged Kokomo.
Defenders of the crown
The defending champion is Alberto Rossi’s Enfant Terrible. The Italian crew won the 2013 world title in Newport, Rhode Island on tiebreak following a dramatic tussle with Kevin McNeil’s Nightshift. “We are here to do well. If we sail well, we can achieve anything but we are fully aware that there are many boats here to win. There is a favourite and to tell the truth I am glad there is a favourite,” explained Enfant Terrible tactician Vasco Vascotto. By favourite Vascotto is referring to Alex Roepers’ Plenty, the form Farr 40 team going into the competition.
Rossi is in agreement with his expert tactician. “It will be difficult to defend this title. This year the level of competition has raised. Plenty is in good form, but there are another five or six boats which can easily win. Nightshift, Flash Gordon 6, Transfusion, plus Voodoo Chile and Groovederci. The list of potential winners is rich.”
Despite testing San Francisco’s waters during September’s Rolex Big Boat Series, Rossi believes the elements will still pose a significant obstacle. “Conditions are difficult, not only due to strength of the wind, but also the variables, the currents. Knowing it, or understanding it, is going to be an important factor.”
One omen is in Rossi’s favour – the only crew to successfully defend a Rolex Farr 40 World Championship also hailed from Italy: Vincenzo Onorato’s Mascalzone Latino in 2007 and 2008.
– Regatta News