by Bill Wagner
Farr 40 Miami Beach Invitational 2013. Farr 40 owners from around the world came to Miami for the sunny skies, warm weather and consistent breeze. South Beach delivered on all counts as 70-degree temperatures and 12-18 knot winds welcomed the fleet for the regatta.
Struntje Light, the German entry skippered by Wolfgang Schaefer, won two of three races to lead the lead on the first day of the Miami Beach Invitational - Miami Beach Invitational
Principal race officer Peter 'Luigi' Reggio used the north course that is located just off South Beach for Wednesday’s action. In typical Farr 40 fashion, the mark roundings were tremendously tight as the seven boats completed a four-legged course that featured downwind finishes.
'It was typical South Beach conditions, just absolutely glamorous,' said Geoff Stagg, Farr 40 class manager. 'We got in three terrific races and there was not a single complaint from the sailors and owners. It really was a magnificent day of sailboat racing.'
Owner-driver Wolfgang Schaefer and his team aboard Struntje Light enjoyed a fantastic first day of competition, winning two races and placing second in the other to seize the early lead. Tactician Peter Holmberg correctly called the right side of the course in Race 1 and Struntje Light was the first boat to benefit from a 25-degree shift, rounding the first windward mark in first place and never looking back. The German entry engaged in a great duel with Charisma in Race 3 and managed to grab the lead for good midway up the second beat.
'The crew did a great job today. We made a few mistakes, but were able to recover nicely,' Schaefer said. 'Peter Holmberg did an outstanding job. He managed the wind shifts quite well. Of course, we also had a bit of luck, but that is sailboat racing.'
Holmberg, a native of the U.S. Virgin Islands and America’s Cup veteran, is one of three professionals aboard Struntje Light along with Massimo Bortoletto and Matteo de Luca. Struntje Light placed third at Quantum Key West in January and clearly built on the confidence gained from that result.
'We are very pleased. The boat is very quick and we are sailing well,' Schaefer said. That being said, we have completed less than 30 percent of the regatta so there is a long way to go.'
New York skipper Alex Roepers has not competed in a Farr 40 event since placing sixth at the world championships in September. Roepers had to miss Key West due to business commitments and figured his crew and boat might be a bit behind the rest of the fleet. It took just one race for Plenty to shake off the rust as Roepers followed a seventh in Race 1 with first and a third in the subsequent starts.
'We went to the wrong side of the course in the first race. We tried the left and found ourselves fighting for last place,' Roepers said. 'Fortunately, we came back and did just about everything right in the second race. We got a good start, led at the top mark and were never really headed. Then we tacked on a third in the last race so all in all it was a good day.'
Annapolis-based pro Chris Larson is calling tactics while America’s Cup veterans Marco Constant and Ross Halcrow are trimming the sails aboard Plenty, which wins a tiebreaker with Charisma and Flash Gordon 6 based on the bullet. All three boats have 11 points, seven behind Struntje Light.
'It really is amazing how competitive this fleet is. Any boat can win any race, any boat can win the regatta,' Roepers said. 'It’s going to be a nail-biter. Barking Mad is in last place right now and it doesn’t really matter. Everything could change tomorrow and they could be right back in contention.'
Charisma, owned by Nico Poons of Monaco, posted a pair of seconds on Wednesday and sits third in the overall standings. Morgan Reeser, who developed into an Olympic medalist just up the road in Fort Lauderdale, is serving as tactician aboard Charisma, which is coming off a fourth place finish at Quantum Key West 2013.
Competition continues on Friday and Saturday off South Beach with Reggio hoping to complete 10 races.
Miami Beach Invitational Standings
1, Struntje Light, Wolgang Schaefer, Germany, 1-2-1=4
2, Plenty, Alex Roepers, New York, USA, 7-1-3=11
3, Charisma, Nico Poons, Monaco, 2-7-2=11
4, Flash Gordon 6, Helmut Jahn, USA, 3-3-5 =11
5, Groovederci, John Demourkas, USA, 5-4-6 =15
6, Enfant Terrible, Alberto Rossi, Italy, 4-5-7=16
7, Barking Mad, James Richardson, USA, 6-6-4=16
Miami Beach Invitational