Please select your home edition
Edition
Fremantle to Bali Race 728x90

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

The Water Shed - 4Zhik ZKG 660x82Festival of Sails 2017 660x82

Related Articles

Volvo Ocean Race - Enright and Towill ready to go again in 2017/18
Team Alvimedica skipper Charlie Enright and his long-time buddy Mark Towill are eager to put their experience to use. Team Alvimedica were the youngest team in the race last edition, and now skipper Charlie Enright and his long-time buddy Mark Towill are eager to put that experience to use. Volvo Ocean race's Jonno Turner caught up with Mark and Charlie to chat about everything from the transition back into 'real life', their reflections on the 2014-15 campaign - and the future.
Posted today at 9:57 am
Collinson FX Market Commentary - Aug 28 - The Folly of Jackson Hole
Commodity currencies were impacted by the rising reserve, with the AUD falling below 0.7600, while the NZD crashed to 0. Record liquidity through Monetary Policy has done nothing to stimulate growth but created massive asset bubbles. Fiscal ineptitude is camouflaged by Monetary expansionism. Whomever believes the rhetoric is naive. Jackson Hole is a gathering of Central Bankers where they publicly talk the market up but quietly confirm the propaganda they must recite to markets to hide the problem.
Posted today at 8:02 am
The door’s been flung open – again
Now whether it was the Champagne or something far more ethereal, there is the chance that sailing gets sexier for Tokyo Now whether it was the Champagne or something far more ethereal, there is the chance that sailing may get sexier for Tokyo 2020. Yes, the proverbial door has been cast ajar before, often to much fanfare, and not that much has been achieved.
Posted on 28 Aug
Audi Hamilton Island Race Week - The Week in Video
Catch all the action from Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, Bob Killick and the 18ft Skiff video and commentary team If you missed the action from Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, Bob Killick and the 18ft Skiff video and commentary team were on hand to record the on the water action from the Week
Posted on 28 Aug
Frankly spectacular at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week
GC32 catamaran Frank Racing has won the Racing Multihulls division of the Australian Yachting Championship “I can’t tell you the buzz you get out of sailing the GC32. I’ve spent years and years on the likes of TP52s and other keel boats eking out a tenth of a knot here and there, and with these things you just jump 10 knots, it’s a quantum leap!” So says Simon Hull, Kiwi skipper of the foiling GC32 catamaran Frank Racing which is presently leading the Racing Multihulls division of the Australian Yac
Posted on 28 Aug
Regatta finishes on a high at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week
A fresh and cool SSE breeze under clear skies powered the record number of yachts in AHIRW’s 14 divisions 2016 Audi Hamilton Island Race Week - A fresh and cool SSE breeze under clear skies powered the record number of yachts in Audi Hamilton Island Race Week’s 14 divisions from the start line in Dent Passage northward yesterday, with most divisions charging off on the 15 nautical mile Molles Islands race.
Posted on 28 Aug
Audi Hamilton Island RW - Beau Geste takes title with a day to spare
The new format Australian Yachting Championship title concluded on the final windy day of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week The new format Australian Yachting Championship title concluded on the final windy day of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, Saturday August 27, and two winners from the 2015 series returned to glory after five days of racing in the Whitsunday islands playground.
Posted on 27 Aug
Sail-World.com NZ Olympic Regatta News from Day 11 to the return Home
. .
Posted on 26 Aug
Vendée Globe – Yann Eliès and his team relaunch 60-ft IMOCA in Lorient
Yann is now on the final stretch before the event and will be taking part in the three training courses. Yann is now on the final stretch before the event and will be taking part in the three training courses organised at the Finistère Ocean Racing Centre in Port-la-Forêt (Brittany). He will also take part in the Azimut Trophy. Yann Eliès tells us about the work that has been done and what lies ahead in the final part of his preparation.
Posted on 26 Aug
Audi Hamilton Island RW - Images and video from the supermaxi racing
Michael Chittenden and Bob Killick were on the water at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week and provided these images Michael Chittenden and Bob Killick were on the water at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week and provided these images of the supermaxi battle between Wild Oats XI and Scallywag from Races 3, 4 and 5 Scallywag won the third and final race for the day (Race5). She should also have won Race 3 also but had a problem with their furler after leading by about a minute at the top mark.
Posted on 26 Aug