Please select your home edition
Edition
Sail World NZ Lone Wolf

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

Protector - 660 x 82Zhik AkzoNobelb 660x82C-Tech

Related Articles

Solo Round the World – The MACIF trimaran is on standby
François Gabart is already studying the weather situation closely with the routing team run by Jean-Yves Bernot. François Gabart together with the whole team will be on standby as of Sunday, with a view to attempting the single-handed round the world record. The skipper is ready and so is the MACIF trimaran. All that remains is to choose the right time to leave and this means opting for an ideal weather window to get the record attempt off to a good start.
Posted today at 2:28 pm
The Middle Sea Race starts tomorrow
Alex will be racing crewed with Irish sailor Nin O'Leary (who was Alex's co-skipper during the 2017 Fastnet race) For this race, Alex will be racing crewed with Irish sailor Nin O'Leary (who was Alex's co-skipper during the 2017 Fastnet race), HUGO BOSS boat captain. Will Jackson & experienced Class 40 sailor Jack Trigger.
Posted today at 2:10 pm
Volvo Ocean Race – Seven skippers, one goal
The ultimate test in team sport, starts on Sunday, when seven of the best sailing teams in world cross the starting line The Volvo Ocean Race will test the crews on a 45,000 nautical mile race course, through some of the most challenging waters in the world, including more miles in the extremes of the Southern Ocean.
Posted today at 1:28 pm
Volvo Ocean Race - Skippers' Press Conference - Alicante
On Friday, the seven skippers faced the international media at the opening press conference. The ultimate test in team sport, the Volvo Ocean Race, starts on Sunday, when seven of the best sailing teams in the world cross the starting line off Alicante, Spain. The Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18 will test the crews on a 45,000 nautical mile race course, through some of the most challenging waters in the world, including more miles in the extremes of the Southern Ocean.
Posted today at 12:28 pm
Volvo Ocean Race - Triple champion says Team AkzoNobel ready to race
Team AkzoNobel skipper Brad Jackson says the team are moving on and looking forward to the start of the opening Leg After a week of turmoil ashore, newly appointed Team AkzoNobel skipper Brad Jackson (NZL) says the team are moving on and looking forward to the start of the opening Leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. The short leg from Alicante to Lisbon is due to start on Sunday. There the fleet will reassemble ahead of the start of the race proper with a 7,000nm leg from Lisbon, Portugal to Cape Town, South Africa
Posted today at 11:24 am
Clipper World Yacht Race – Day 16, Race 2 – And then there were two
Unicef is currently 387 nm from the finish line in Cape Town, but will face some tricky conditions in the final stretch. It has been a tricky race for Unicef, who suffered a series of spinnaker wraps during the race, including one on day four which damaged the inner-forestay. Whilst this slowed the boat considerably, the team continued to show incredible teamwork to keep racing towards Cape Town.
Posted today at 10:30 am
Land Rover BAR shows its form but Alinghi sneaks ahead on ESS opener
Alinghi and Land Rover BAR Academy were the teams to beat on the opening day of the penultimate Act Alinghi and Land Rover BAR Academy were the teams to beat on the opening day of the penultimate Act of the 2017 Extreme Sailing Series™ in San Diego, USA. But it was the Swiss who demonstrated their prowess in the light winds and took the overnight lead as they left the Brits floundering in the final race.
Posted today at 7:09 am
Consistency the name of game for Oman Air on tricky ESS opening day
Oman Air crew ended tricky first day in San Diego content with a consistent performance in penultimate Act of 2017 ESS. The Oman Air crew ended a tricky first day in San Diego content with a consistent performance in the penultimate Act of the 2017 Extreme Sailing Series.
Posted today at 6:31 am
CQS announces crew for Rolex Middle Seas Race
Ludde Ingvall will skipper a strong multi-national crew on CQS for Rolex Middle Seas Race, starting from Valletta, Malta Ludde Ingvall will skipper a strong multi-national crew on CQS for the Rolex Middle Seas Race, starting from Valletta, Malta on Saturday, which it the final event on the team’s European tour.
Posted today at 5:48 am
Catamarans Cup International Regatta sets sail for 8th successive year
In its eighth year, the race is eagerly anticipated by the sailing community (300 sailors are expected to participate). After each leg, local festivities will be held in the welcoming harbors by the sponsoring Municipalities to honor the participants and reward the winners. During the race, several events will unfold (competitions, social gatherings, etc.)
Posted on 19 Oct