The Rolex Farr 40 North American Championship is coming up and it’s getting down to the wire for the Farr 40 Class, with several teams close, if not neck-and-neck, on points as they head into the fifth and final event on the 2013 U.S. Circuit Championship. Scheduled from July 24-27 off Martha’s Vineyard, the North American Championship’s four days of racing will be co-hosted by the Farr 40 Class and Edgartown Yacht Club and contested by an international fleet of 11 Farr 40s representing six countries.
Julian Fernandez and Bernardo Minkow’s Flojito y Cooperando at the 2012 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship in Chicago
'The teams will be battling it out for either the North American crown or the U.S. Circuit title or both,' said Farr 40 Class Director Geoff Stagg (Annapolis, Md.), 'so there is really going to be a lot going on and a lot to follow—all very exciting.'
Defending North American Champion Jim Richardson (Newport, R.I./Boston, Mass.) and his team aboard Barking Mad currently hold the circuit championship lead with a total of 91 points, only two points ahead of current runner-up Alberto Rossi (Ancona, Italy) and his team aboard Enfant Terrible.
Alberto Rossi and his team aboard Enfant Terrible during last year's Rolex Farr 40 North American Championship in Newport - where they took second place
'This is very close competition, and we’re looking forward to racing against a lot of good teams in Martha’s Vineyard,' said Richardson, who also is a three-time world champion (1998, ’04, and ‘09), while Rossi claimed second at the Worlds last year. He acknowledged Enfant Terrible’s two 2013 circuit event victories, one having been at the Farr 40 East Coast Championship in Annapolis, and the most recent at the 159th New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta presented by Rolex where Barking Mad had to settle for second place on the final day of racing after losing on a tiebreaker to Enfant Terrible. (Richardson won the first of the 2013 circuit events – Quantum Key West Race Week, which served as the Farr 40 Mid-Winters—and finished third at the East Coasts.)
Defending North American Champion Jim Richardson and his Barking Mad team at last year's Rolex Farr 40 North American Championship in Newport
'There are many things that draw sailors to the Farr 40 fleet,' emphasized Richardson. 'It is the fairest, most equal sailing out there, and the Farr 40 organization does a great job in making sure the boats and teams are carefully monitored and compliant with class rules. Also, each owner has put together teams with great sailors, and the owners themselves have a great deal of respect for one another. We have intense but friendly competition, which is what I think makes it most appealing.'
Tied for third in the circuit championship are Wolfgang Schaefer’s (Lueneburg) German entry Struntje Light and John Demourkas’ (Santa Barbara, Calif.) U.S. entry Groovederci (116 points each), while Nico Poons’ (Monaco) Charisma is nipping at their heels (118 points).
Wolfgang Schaefer’s Struntje Light at last year's Rolex Farr 40 North American Championship in Newport
'The Rolex North Americans are one of the class highlights every year,' said Struntje Light’s Schaefer, who won the second circuit event in Miami, Fla. this year. He added that the owner/driver rule and limit of professionals on board is a large part of the Farr 40’s attraction, as are the boats themselves, which continue to provide an exhilarating platform for one-design grand-prix racing. 'The class has a great bunch of international owners that know each other very well. I like one design racing, on that challenging level, because it is very honest and straight forward. You have no excuses for your mistakes. Making fewer mistakes than the others is the goal, and that is what we like to try and hopefully do.'
Because of the attractive nature of the class and boat, regional Farr 40 fleets keep growing around the world, including in Europe, Turkey, Australia and most recently in Mexico, where Acapulco Yacht Club has already built a fleet that is six boats strong.
'This is a great class and we plan to bring more teams from Mexico up to the U.S. to race next year,' said Julian Fernandez, who with Bernardo Minkow (both from Distrito Federal, Mexico) is developing the Mexican fleet and expects to add another three boats before the end of the year. Fernandez and Minkow will both sail in the North Americans aboard Flojito y Cooperando (formerly Flash Gordon 5), which they acquired from previous owner Helmut Jahn (Chicago, Ill.) in 2012. Jahn, the current Rolex Farr 40 World Champion, will be sailing at the North Americans, as well, with Flash Gordon 6.
'We didn’t compete in the full U.S. Circuit Championship this year but are using the North Americans as a ramp-up to the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship in August,' said Fernandez. 'This will be my first time sailing in Martha’s Vineyard, and we are going up against some very strong helmsman and crew, so our hopes are to place as best we can.'
This is the first time that the North Americans will be held on Martha’s Vineyard, an island of 100 square miles located in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts seven miles off the coast of Cape Cod. Race headquarters will be at Edgartown Yacht Club where on-water competition will be followed daily by lively social gatherings for the teams and their families.
'Martha’s Vineyard is a beautiful location and people come here for the sailing because Vineyard Sound and Nantucket Sound are terrific venues with flat seas and steady winds,' said Edgartown Yacht Club’s Vice Commodore Clare Harrington (Edgartown, Mass./Greenwich, Conn.). 'Edgartown Yacht Club is working very hard to attract high level, competitive racing events. We just started hosting sponsored events in the last three or four years, and because of The Club’s excellent race management and facilities, we are happy to host competitive classes like the Farr 40 fleet.'
Farr 40 website