2nd July 2003
Phillips' Le Renard remains the standard
One of Rolex Farr 40 Worlds
sailing conditions greeted the 37-boat fleet on the first day of the Rolex Farr
40 World Championship which is being sailed in front of Porto Cervo, Sardinia
and organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda this week. 25-knot winds, flat
warm water and bright sunshine left nothing but smiling faces on the 370 crew
who stepped ashore after finishing the first two races late this afternoon. The
happiest crew in town being the group that sail on board Steve Phillips¹
Le Renard, the defending world champion who leads the fleet after the first day¹s
extremely tight action all day today the Farr 40 Class is once again proving why
it is the most competitive large One-Design keelboat around. No one can question
the action. There is always enough close racing to make even the hardest of sailors
come ashore smiling.
Race Officer Peter Reggio was initially forced to delay the first start for 45
minutes whilst his race committee crew attempted to make the committee boat anchor
hold in the prevailing conditions. The first race saw the 37 boat fleet sail a
2-mile weather leg to a top mark positioned just offshore from Capo Ferro, the
Costa Smeralda¹s famous lighthouse. The leaders at the first corner came
from the right side of the course and it was John Coumantaros, at the helm of
Bambakou, that rounded in front with a healthy four-boat length lead. By the time
the fleet had got to the leeward gate Coumantaros, assisted by tactician Chris
Larson, had opened a 30 second lead, something that is hard to touch on a stable
fresh day like today.
fresh conditions saw broaches, loss of control in gybes, spinnaker blowouts and
even missed approaches at the laylines. On board each boat the nine crew, supporting
their helmsmen, felt warm seawater, fresh breeze and the close contact of another
30 boats at all times.
next two boats back were Crocodile Rock and Struntje Light, both managing to stay
out in front of the pack and the latter not quite managing to pass Crocodile Rock
in a late, high speed charge to the finish. But then came the pack, who at every
mark rounding saw a different set of pretenders, surging forwards, dropping back,
making boathandling mistakes, exploiting opportunities to give the order of the
next 34 places. The skipper who extracted himself from this the best and finally
finishing in fourth place was Phillips, steering Le Renard.
second race got underway shortly after 1400 hours and saw the fleet spread evenly
along the long start line. Jim Richardson¹s dark blue Barking Mad made the
best exit from the blocks at the committee boat end. Just to weather and slightly
behind was the morning¹s winner Bambakou. This pair set the pace for the
first lap of the course, with Coumantaros making all the running, demonstrating
enough extra boatspeed to draw level by the second weather mark. A slight boathandling
error by the Bamabakou crew meant that what was planned as a close port tack dip
astern of Barking Mad ended up with a stalled rudder and an emergency tack to
leeward of the leader. Having committed a foul in the process, Bambakou exonerated
herself with a 360-degree penalty turn. At this level of competition that kind
of mistake costs places and five boats sailed past.
of the boats to slip through and eventually pass the leader too, was Massimo Mezzaroma¹s
Nerone who added a win to a 13th place in the first race. Another was Phillips¹
ever present Le Renard, finishing third to post the best results of the day.
The fleet tonight is
full of stories of what turned out to be a brilliant start for some and what might
have been for others. The warning signal for the first of three scheduled races
tomorrow will be given at 11:30. The weather is expected to give more moderate
"I'd have to
put the reason for our success today down to the fact that we spent more than
40 minutes sailing around upwind on the race course area before anyone else left
the dock this morning. We really managed to settle in and understand the conditions.
We had speed and the crew never once let me down with boat handling."
Steve Phillips, owner/skipper of Le Renard, defending world champion and overall
leader after two races.
had a good first race finishing 6th. But in the second race, in spite of a great
start we just seemed to fall back into the pack all the time. Must have been a
speed problem. But on a day like today how can you complain, this is the best
place in the world to sail, its impossible to beat." Tony deMulder, owner/skipper
of Victric 5, 20th overall.
the first race we had a great start and that coupled with good speed and tactics
got us to the first mark first. Believe it or not after that it is pretty straight
forward in this fleet to stay ahead when you have a buffer. This afternoon was
initially a similar scenario, we started well and were in second place catching
Barking Mad. At the second top mark we were ducking them on port, the rudder stalled
out and we tacked and fouled them. We did a penalty turn and lost five places
in the process." John Coumantaros, owner/skipper of Bambakou, 2nd overall.