Please select your home edition
Edition
Southern Spars - North Technology

Rolex Farr 40 World Championship - Precision is paramount

by KPMS on 29 Aug 2013
Day 1, Rolex Farr 40 Worlds 2013, The fleet with Newport’s Ocean Drive in the background © Rolex/Daniel Forster http://www.regattanews.com
Rolex Farr 40 World Championship. Precision is the key to success in all sport. The faultless golf swing, the perfect line in motor racing, serving an ace in tennis: each requires absolute accuracy. In a team sport such as sailing individual and collective precision is paramount especially when competing with a crew of ten in one of the most aggressive and competitive classes in yacht racing.

The fifteen crews competing at the 2013 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship hosted by the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) in Newport, United States, are well aware of what it takes to succeed in this competition. Perfect timing and teamwork go hand in hand. The four days of intense racing are fast-paced and everyone on board needs to know exactly what to do and exactly when to do it.


The races are run on short windward/leeward courses that require a lot of manoeuvres and look fairly simply to the untrained eye, but require a great deal of coordination and talent. Although a crew of ten might seem quite large on a 40-ft yacht, no one is idle at any moment of the race. Before leaving the dock, the crews are already at work getting the boat ready for racing - checking and loading sails and gear. Then it’s time to talk about the course, the weather conditions, the forecast, navigation, strategy and tactics. The 'start' of the race begins well before the gun is fired. Coaches are busy checking the starting line and taking their teams through practice drills, race officials have their hands full with measurements and course settings. The area around the start is hectic, noisy and bustling with activity.

The crew’s senses are fully alert. At the so-called 'warning' signal, which gives the teams the exact countdown to the start, the sailors start their carefully planned act: bowmen, trimmers, pitmen, grinders, mastmen, strategists, floaters, tacticians, helmsmen – to name just a few – all spring into action. There is a constant flow of commands, both verbal and visual, from the bow to the stern of each boat, while computers and GPSs contribute to the exactness and timing of each action. There is no rest throughout the race and no margin of error. In case something unforeseen happens, strong teamwork comes into play again, as everyone has a very specific role and acts fast to fix the problem. The winner is usually the team who completes this highly choreographed dance at the most precise and accurate pace.


According to Jim Richardson, American owner of three time Rolex Farr 40 World Champion Barking Mad and Chairman of the Farr 40 Class, teamwork and timing are inextricably linked: 'In terms of teamwork, you try to build a crew that is able to compete at a high level. In terms of timing, all your efforts go into preparation. We aim to cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s. On any given day anyone can win and anyone can lose. Consistency is key. You really want to be able to go into the last day with an opportunity to win.'

America’s Cup veteran Terry Hutchinson, Richardson’s professional tactician, adds: '(Timing and teamwork) are directly related to each other. The better communicated the timing, the better the teamwork. If you are off, it’s amazing the impact it has on the overall performance of the boat. If the start is off by two or three seconds, the impact on the race is massive. I give a timing countdown to each manoeuvre because it’s so critical for everyone to start the job at the right time. Pretty much everything on the boat requires ultimate precision.'

Vasco Vascotto, another pro tactician, racing on the Italian Farr 40 Enfant Terrible, is in agreement: 'Teamwork is one of the most important things in any sport. On the Farr 40, you need to be very coordinated and organized. We have ten sailors on the boat and everyone has to do their best to make it all work. If someone isn’t pushing in the right direction it affects all the others.'

Perfection and precision were on display during the first day of the 2013 Rolex Farr 40 Worlds. Nico Poons’ Charisma scored three consecutive race wins: a remarkable achievement. 'I knew it was possible, but three bullets in a row is pretty amazing,' confessed and impressed Poons. Practice makes perfect though as Poons explains: 'The team works like a finely tuned machine and are highly motivated. The communication on board is flawless.'

According to Gavin Brady, the professional tactician on former Rolex Farr 40 World Champion Guido Belgiorno-Nettis’ Transfusion from Australia, the Farr 40 fleet never stops improving. He points to how the fleet hits the start line on time and together: 'To achieve that you need teamwork, perfect boat handling and kinetics, and you have to get the timing dead right.'

HRH Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark sterring his Farr 40 Nanoq (MON) with Jens Christiansen calling tactics
After a period away from the class, Danish pro-sailor Jens Christiansen racing with HRH Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark on Nanoq, explains how hard they have had to work their timing to compete at the rarefied heights of this world championship: 'We know how crucial it is to get it right and how difficult that is. We were a little surprised at how aggressive the crews have become. It’s clear that many of the crews have been sailing a lot and they know their boats extremely well, so they can push them really hard.'


Most Farr 40 teams have a designated coach. Jonathan 'Jono' Swain from South Africa is coaching the American crew on John Demourkas’ Groovederci: 'Timing is paramount, especially in the starts. I have the team rehearse the same thing every day to get them in a routine.' Decision-making is between the helmsman, tactician and bowman, who are fed the countdown to the start by two other crewmembers.

Swain believes proper preparation extends to land-based elements. He runs a full debrief at the end of every day: 'Usually if there are any little mistakes that happened during the race they would already have talked about them on board, but I like to go beyond the race observations.' In keeping with his experience as a round the world racer, Swain keeps an eye on nutrition and hydration. Napoleon’s adage that an army marches on its stomach is not lost in sailing.

Sometimes, things do not run as smoothly as planned and crews need to react fast. Dave Gerber a professional on Helmut Jahn’s defending champion Flash Gordon 6 explains how important it is to be prepared for any eventuality good or bad: 'We often practice drills for the unplanned error or breakage. We rehearse the procedures on how to fix the problem so that we can continue racing. Everyone knows exactly what they are supposed to do in these situations and they can spring right into action.' Prior preparation is critical to precision and accuracy.

Given all the effort the crews put in to getting things right on the day, it is reassuring to know that the race management is equally diligent about its timing and teamwork; Principal Race Officer Peter 'Luigi' Reggio: 'In the starting sequence everything has to be perfect and you have to be spot on with the time. If you make a mistake you have to stop the race and start all over again.' And that is unrewarding for everyone.

For the team that consistently hits every start, executes every manoeuvre, follows the best strategy and minimises the errors their timing and teamwork will be duly rewarded. The Rolex Farr 40 World Championship is coveted throughout the sailing world, and the winner is awarded the Championship trophy and an engraved Rolex Yacht-Master timepiece, true recognition for their precision on the water.


Farr 40 Worlds website

Schaefer 2016 Ratchet 300x250North Technology - Southern SparsZhik Isotak Ocean 660x82

Related Articles

Superyacht Cup - Day 2 action-shots by Ingrid Abery
Photographer Ingrid Abery was on water at 2016 Superyacht Cup and provided this gallery of images from Day 2 action. Photographer Ingrid Abery was on water at 2016 Superyacht Cup and provided this gallery of images from Day 2 action.
Posted today at 4:14 am
More spectacular sailing on race day two at Palma's Superyacht Cup
The Superyacht Cup's social scene, known to rival the insane on-the-water action, has already lived up to its reputation The Superyacht Cup's social scene, known to rival the insane on-the-water action, has already lived up to its reputation as last night's après-race partying went on long after the sails had been packed away. Apart from a lively atmosphere and full dance floor, this year's '20 Years of Rock' theme showed some sailors' hidden talents of playing air guitar and being able to rock back-combed hair
Posted today at 3:57 am
Picture perfect conditions for day one of racing at the Clagett
Newport turned on the charm for day one of racing for 22 sailors at C. Thomas Clagett, Jr. Memorial Clinic and Regatta. Newport turned on the charm for day one of racing for the 22 sailors at the 14th C. Thomas Clagett, Jr. Memorial Clinic and Regatta. After a slight delay waiting for the breeze to settle, the race committee, led by Principal Race Officer (PRO) Tom Duggan (East Sandwich, MA) provided four races for the two classes taking part, the 2.4mR's and the Sonars.
Posted today at 3:28 am
Oman Air revel in Cardiff breeze to extend lead
Oman Air kept up a steady pace despite high winds and sudden gusts to extend their lead on the second day 2016 Extreme Sailing Series - Oman Air kept up a steady pace despite high winds and sudden gusts to extend their lead on the second day of the Extreme Sailing Series in Cardiff.
Posted today at 2:58 am
Act 3 leaderboard compresses as Cardiff Bay deliver spectacular racing
Cardiff Bay lived up to its reputation for delivering wet and wild racing today 2016 Extreme Sailing Series - Cardiff Bay lived up to its reputation for delivering wet and wild racing today as it played host to some of the most exciting action of the 2016 Extreme Sailing Series™ so far.
Posted today at 2:34 am
Clipper Race crew member successfully medevaced from North Atlantic
Chris Drummond from High Wycombe, UK a crew member on board IchorCoal, had complained of severe chest pains yesterday. Chris Drummond, 62, from High Wycombe, UK a crew member on board IchorCoal, had complained of severe chest pains yesterday but was stabilised after receiving care from one of the team’s two on board medics, a Consultant Anesthetist.
Posted on 24 Jun
Stéphane Le Diraison aiming to qualify for the Vendée Globe
Aboard his very good boat, the former Hugo Boss from 2008, he hopes to sail around the world in under 90 days. As for his budget, while the name of his boat is still up for grabs, he is today certain he will be taking part. Aboard his very good boat, the former Hugo Boss from 2008, he hopes to sail around the world in under 90 days.
Posted on 24 Jun
Vendée Globe – Thomas Ruyant wins the SNSM Record in St. Nazaire
There were in fact four candidates taking part in the SNSM Record, if we add Bertrand de Broc to this list of three. Now a classic race, this event raises funds for the French lifeboat service and this year, three competitors from the next Vendée Globe were up against each other: Thomas Ruyant, Arnaud Boissières and the Swiss sailor, Alan Roura.
Posted on 24 Jun
The Vendée Globe goes Asian with Kojiro Shiraishi
Another important step in the internationalisation. For the first time, an Asian is ideally placed to be at the start. Thanks to a neat trajectory and a very decent seventh place in the New York – Vendée transatlantic race, Kojiro Shiraishi has obtained his sailing qualification for the Everest of the seas aboard Spirit of Yukoh. This Bruce Farr designed boat from 2007, built in England, is none other than Alex Thomson’s ex-Hugo Boss (previously called BT and Veolia).
Posted on 24 Jun
Two young members of the Team Tilt squad selected for the Rio Olympics
Sebastien and Lucien have been racing the 49er together for two years. They have quickly progressed up the ranks Some very encouraging results over the last few months combined with a place becoming available and the Swiss Olympic ‘Newcomer Rule’ mean that Sebastien Schneiter and Lucien Cujean will be heading to Rio this summer to represent their country at the Olympic Games.
Posted on 24 Jun