On the opening day of the 2013 Farr 40 East Coast Championship it was a typically fluky day on the Chesapeake Bay, and surprisingly one of the European teams figured things out the best.
Skipper Alberto Rossi and the Enfant Terrible team placed second in both races on Day 1 of the Farr 40 East Coast Championship 2013
Four of the eight boats featured Annapolis sailors with extensive local knowledge of the Chesapeake and its shifty winds and unpredictable tidal currents. However, it was the Italian team aboard Enfant Terrible that most successfully avoided getting caught on the wrong side of the course and therefore put forth the most consistent performance.
Skipper Alberto Rossi steered Enfant Terrible to a couple of second place finishes as the Italian contingent took the early overall lead in the four-day regatta, being hosted by Annapolis Yacht Club. America’s Cup veteran Vasco Vascotto called tactics for Rossi, who was relieved to escape the unpredictable day with a point advantage over Barking Mad.
'We sailed here for three days before the regatta to get a feel for the conditions. Today, the wind was very shifty so it was a challenge,' Rossi said. 'Fortunately, we chose the right rig setup and the boat was fast, especially in the strong wind. We enjoyed the sailing today and are very happy about the results.'
Owner-driver Jim Richardson and the Barking Mad crew also had a solid day, winning Race one then placing fourth in Race two to total five points. Tactician Terry Hutchinson grew up sailing on the Chesapeake Bay and made a couple decisions that worked out well for the boat based out of Newport, RI.
Barking Mad and Enfant Terrible traded the lead twice in Race one with the latter rounding the second weather mark in first. However, Barking Mad retook the lead on the final downwind leg, crossing the finish line about a boat length ahead of Enfant Terrible.
'I thought the boat was moving fairly well and the crew work was good,' said Richardson, who was just as pleased with the fourth as he was with the bullet. That’s because Barking Mad rounded the first weather mark in last place and managed to pass three boats over the final three legs.
'That was a good comeback. We caught a few boats on the run and turned an eighth into a fourth. Those are the races that can make a difference in the end,' Richardson said.
Skipper John Demourkas also sported a smile on the dock after racing since Groovederci posted a pair of third place results. Demourkas and tactician Cameron Appleton weren’t pleased with the boat’s performance in the first two regattas of this year so they decided to return to the rig setup and sail inventory that Groovederci used last year when it captured the East Coast Championship off Annapolis.
'I think we’re getting our mojo back. Based on today, I’d say we’ve definitely made an improvement in speed and that helps build confidence,' Demourkas said. 'We were able to come back today, which is something we haven’t been able to do.'
Race one started in a due southerly breeze of about 12-14 knots, but principal race officer Wayne Bretsch had to reset the top mark for the second upwind leg due to a shift of 35 degrees. By the time Race two got underway, the wind had come all the way back to the southeast at a heading of 175 degrees. The Annapolis Yacht Club race committee had to move the top mark again in the second race after the wind shifted 10 more degrees to the left.
Those shifty winds, along with a strong ebb tide and changes in wind velocity led to numerous lead changes. By the end of the second race, the wind had piped up to 18 knots with gusts over 20.
'It was left and right, up and down. You throw in the current and tide and it is very tricky,' Demourkas said. 'I think the tide is the toughest thing to figure out because you don’t know how it affects the middle and the edges.'
Skipper Rod Jabin, tactician Gavin Brady and several other members of the Ramrod crew are longtime Annapolis residents who know the fickle nature of the Chesapeake Bay as well as anybody. However, that didn’t prevent Ramrod from experiencing both ends of wind shifts on Wednesday, finishing last in Race one and first in Race two.
'It was very shifty and very challenging out there today. We got forced to the left on the first beat of the day and wound up buried,' Jabin said. 'In the second race, we took everyone’s transom at the start so we bailed out and went hard right and it paid off. We got unlucky in one race and lucky in the other.'
Action continues Thursday with the early forecasts calling for light and shifty winds. Organizers with Annapolis-based Stagg Yachts, which manages the Farr 40 class, are hoping to complete 10 races by Saturday afternoon.
2013 Farr 40 East Coast Championship (eight entries)
1, Enfant Terrible, Alberto Rossi, Ancona, Italy, 2-2=4
2, Barking Mad, Jim Richardson, Newport, RI, 1-4=5
3, Groovederci, John Demourkas, Santa Barbara, CA, 3-3=6
4, Ramrod, Rod Jabin, Annapolis, MD, 8-1=9
5, Plenty, Alex Roepers, New York City, 4-5=9
6, Struntje Light, Wolfgang Schaefer, Lueneberg, Germany, 5-7=12
7, Nightshift, Kevin McNeil, Annapolis, MD, 7-6=13
8, Asterisk-UNO, Hasip Gencer, Instanbul, Turkey, 6-8=14
For the second straight year, skipper Hasip Gencer and the Asterisk-UNO team have traveled from Turkey to Annapolis for the Farr 40 East Coast Championship - Farr 40 East Coast Championship