Monday, April 26, 2010


Photo credit: Rolex / Daniel Forster
The Rolex Farr 40 Worlds lived up to its billing as the big boat one-design championship against which all others are measured. The 2010 series was decided on the final race of the final day, raced in front of a huge spectator fleet from rubber ducks to 25 metre sport fishers. Massimo Mezzaroma’s Nerone (ITA) ended the day lauded champion, for the second time (first in 2003), having fought tooth and nail in a gladiatorial arena worthy of a blockbuster film. Guido Belgiorno-Nettis’ Transfusion (AUS) were beaten at the last, but certainly not disgraced. The next Rolex Farr 40 World Championship will be held in Sydney in February 2011. What a rematch in prospect.

The final day started early. Principal Race Officer, Peter Reggio, knew he was in charge of a Worlds, and was determined to give the participants every chance to complete the scheduled ten races, in spite of losing the entire second day. The first signal was brought forward to 1000 local time, three races were threatened and for once the wind played ball. Three races were held, all at the highest intensity, with the three main protagonists in contention for the laurels at the fore every time. Defending champion, Jim Richardson’s Barking Mad (USA), chose today to put together their best daily tally of the series, scoring 2,3,1. They gave no favours on the course to either of their main opponents.

The Australians on Transfusion held a two-point cushion at the start of the day. Belgiorno Nettis knew it was not enough to feel comfortable. At least the fight was in their hands; all they had to do was keep in front of Nerone. Easier said than done. The Italians are wily foxes, capable of sniffing out an advantage from the most improbable situations. Take the bottom mark rounding of the first race, eventually won by Helmut Jahn’s Flash Gordon (USA). Transfusion in second rounded the right hand gate mark and tacked almost immediately. Nerone, barrelling down under spinnaker with their minds firmly on a clean and rapid takedown found themselves completely in the wrong position. Nerone fouled Transfusion and faced a penalty turn. That they managed to limit the damage to a one point loss by the end of the race suggests not only brilliance but extraordinary resilience. But tactician, Vasco Vascotto, is extraordinary if nothing else. Terry Hutchinson once said, ”sailing against Vasco makes you a better sailor”.