Enfant Terrible and Nightshift tied on points for the 2013 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship. Based on early results from the opening regatta of the 2014 International Circuit, those two programs are still at the top of their games.
Skipper Alberto Rossi and his team aboard Enfant Terrible are setting the pace after two days of competition at the Farr 40 Midwinter Championship, being held off Cabrillo Beach. Veteran professional Vasco Vascotta is calling tactics for Rossi, who steered the Italian entry to a pair of first place finishes in three races on Thursday to seize the lead away from Nightshift.
"It was a great day of racing and we really enjoyed ourselves," said Rossi, who reeled off four straight bullets to jump from fourth to first with a low score of 17 points. "We started really well again today, hit the pin end perfectly in the two races that we won. We are fast, the team is very smooth on the maneuvers and Vasco is on fire."
JoAnn, skippered by Steve Murphy of Seal Beach, Cal., has enjoyed some nice moments during the first two days of the Farr 40 Midwinters - placing fifth in Race 5 on Thursday.
Nightshift, owned by Kevin McNeil of Annapolis, MD., dropped to second in the overall standings - two points behind Enfant Terrible and one point ahead of New York skipper Alex Roepers and the boys aboard Plenty.
"We have to get off the line a little better than we have been. We got hung out to the left in the last two races today and weren't able to go the way we want," McNeil said.
Enfant Terrible captured the 2013 World Championship off Newport, R.I., edging Nightshift via tiebreaker. While it's no surprise those two boats would be atop the leaderboard right out of the gate in 2014, it is impressive that Plenty is very much in contention as well. Roepers is sailing with a new crew comprised largely of Barking Mad alums as tactician Terry Hutchinson has brought trimmers Skip Baxter and Morgan Trubovich aboard and the revamped crew has performed well so far - posting a second in Race 5 on Thursday to go along with a pair of thirds and trio of fourths.
It was another beautiful day on the Pacific Ocean with principal race officer John Busch and his committee from the Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club completing three races in 12-14 knot westerly winds. Enfant Terrible won the start and led wire-to-wire in Race 4 and Race 5, crossing the finish line ahead of Nightshift and Plenty, respectively.
Flojito y Cooperando, the Mexican entry co-owned by Bernard Minkow and Julian Fernandez, put forth a terrific performance in taking line honors in Race 6. Tactician Jorge Murrieta got the boat off the line in great shape and Fernandez displayed superb helmsman skills as Flojito led at every mark rounding.
"We are taking baby steps and gradually getting better," Fernandez said. "We have changed some crew and spent considerable time on our sail setup. We are becoming more serious about our sailing and it is starting to show."
Flojito y Cooperando, the Mexican entry co-owned by Bernard Minkow and Julian Fernandez, has made significant improvement in recent years and scored its first race victory on the Farr 40 International Circuit on Thursday during the Midwinter Championship off Cabrillo Beach.
Fernandez steers while Minkow works the pit aboard Flojito y Cooperando, which did several events on the 2013 International Circuit and showed steady improvement. While Fernandez admitted the team is quite comfortable sailing on the West Coast, he did not cite that as a reason for the team's first race victory in a major Farr 40 event.
"Yes, we have certainly done a lot of sailing on the West Coast and are familiar with the conditions," he said. "But really it's about all the hard work we have put into the program and the overall improvement we have made."
A strong turnout by members of the West Coast fleet has bolstered the Farr 40 Midwinters and the competition has been outstanding so far. For instance, the entire 16-boat fleet rounded the first downwind mark in Race 4 within the span of two minutes.
Dark Star, which has captured High Point honors on the West Coast for four straight seasons, has sailed well and stands eighth in the overall standings, just two points astern of Flojito. Malibu-based skipper Jeff Janov had a strong opening day with a third and a fifth.
JoAnn, owned by Steve Murphy of Seal Beach, has delivered some nice moments as well - placing sixth and seventh in the first couple races on Wednesday then posting a fifth in Race 5 on Thursday. Jeff Thorpe is calling tactics for Murphy, who is using the Midwinter Championship to develop his boat and crew.
"I think the competition has been fantastic and the racing has been outstanding. Clearly, the class has a strong association that knows how to run a fun, exciting regatta," Murphy said. "We are a little inconsistent, but we are learning every day. Watching what the top boats are doing on the water is helpful, but the most valuable information comes from the conversations on the dock - talking to a top tactician like Terry Hutchinson. Everybody in this class is friendly and eager to help each other, which is refreshing to see."
The Farr 40 Class Association would like to thank the following valued supporters: Gladstone's Long Beach, Yacht Club Vodka, Kelly Marine, O'Connor and Kay Inc., North Sails, Quantum Sails and Ullman Sails. Farr 40 Midwinter Championship Results (16 boats)
1. Enfant Terrible, Alberto Rossi, Italy, 10-1-1-1-1-3=17
2. Nightshift, Kevin McNeil, Annapolis, MD., 2-4-2-2-4-5=19
3. Plenty, Alex Roepers, New York, 3-3-4-4-2-4=20
4. Flash Gordon 6, Helmut Jahn, Chicago, 1-9-7-3-9-2=31
5. Struntje Light, Wolfgang Schaefer, Germany, 4-2-5-5-6-11=33
For complete results: www.yachtscoring.com/event_results_cumulative.cfm?eID=975