Long Beach, California: Jeff Janov's Dark Star charged through strong winds and big seas Sunday to reinforce his rule over the fleet in the 2011 Rolex Farr 40 North American Championship.
But while Dark Star scored a third and a first---its third in five races---to seize an eight-point lead with three races remaining Monday, his arch rival in the class dropped out of contention in spectacular style.
Dave Voss's Piranha is a class icon with the cartoon of the mean little creature on its spinnaker, but the angry fish turned on its master with a vengeance Sunday, costing him ninth and seventh places in the 10-boat fleet.
Piranha, a recent class winner of the Newport to Ensenada offshore classic, was at the front of the fleet approaching the leeward gate in Sunday's first race, but the takedown went awry and the chute was left billowing alongside and then trailing in the water. The crew finally had to cut it loose as the rest of the fleet headed upwind.
Then, in the next race, Piranha got a break when the on-water judges whistled Dark Star for tacking too close near the first windward mark---a way of suggesting that Piranha should protest, which it did. Dark Star immediately did a 360-degree turn, which cost it only a place or two en route to third place.
No complaint, said Janov: "It was the right thing to do."
Then, as Dark Star ran away with the next race, Piranha's backup chute went berserk in the big breeze near the top of the 1.5-nautical mile course and rolled the boat into a classic starboard broach.
"That could have happened to anybody today," Janov said. "I certainly had my hands full all day."
After the boats left the dock at Rainbow Harbor in downtown Long Beach and the conditions grew more extreme, principal race officer John Busch called them in from the outside Alpha course to the alternate course inside the breakwater where the wind is usually just as strong but the water is relatively flat.
But then the wind went away, so it was back to the outside course where the fleet was greeted back by about as much muscle as the notorious Long Beach sea breeze can offer.
Some liked it more than others. Frederic Scheer's Far Niente from Hermosa Beach won the first race and bagged fourth in the second to finish the day tied for second with Dirk Freeland's Skian Dhu from Santa Barbara.
Meanwhile, Bill Durant and Jeff Shew are looking good in their maiden effort with Viva La Vida, recently acquired from Australia. They're two points out of second and the hottest boat out there over the last three races after a win Saturday and two seconds Sunday, setting up a runnerup showdown behind Dark Star.
That's presuming that Dark Star doesn't have a Piranha type of day itself.
The plan for Monday has always been to sail inside the harbor, starting at 1 p.m. PDT.
The racing is administered by the Long Beach Yacht Club but the boats are based and hosted by Gladstone's restaurant at Rainbow Harbor downtown, accessible to visitors.
Sunday's weather: sunny, 64F., 24-15k, WSW, seas 8-10 feet Monday's forecast: sunny, 74F., wind 12k SSW
Complete standings (after 5 of 8 races)
1. Dark Star, Jeff Janov, 11 points
2. Far Niente, Frederic Scheer, 19
3. Skian Dhu, Dirk Freeland, 18
4. Viva La Vida, Jeff Shew / Bill Durant, 22
5. Piranha, David Voss, 24
6. Twisted, Tony Pohl, 30
7. White Knight, Zoltan Katinsky, 34
8. Temptress, Ray Godwin, 36
9. Jo Ann, Steve Murphy, 40
10. Radical Departure, Joe Carter / Dennis Rosene, 41
The Farr 40 Class maintains an extensive international schedule that revolves around regional fleets in the U.S., Australia, Southern Europe and the Nordic region, with the annual Rolex Farr 40 World Championship serving as the class’s “crown jewel” of competition.
In addition to Rolex as title sponsor, the 2011 Rolex Farr 40 North American Championship includes as supporting sponsors Gladstone’s Restaurant, bioplastics manufacturer Cereplast, Inc., Hyatt Regency Long Beach and The City of Long Beach Department of Parks, Recreation & Marine.
For recent results and more information about the Farr 40 class, the 2011 Farr 40 North Americans or the 2012 Farr 40 World Championship, please visit http://www.farr40.org. For more information on the West Coast Farr 40 fleet, please visit http://www.f40west.org/.
About Rolex Watch U.S.A.
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