Rolex Farr 40 Worlds Race 10, the final race of the 2011 championship, was sailed this afternoon on the Manly Circle off Sydney Heads in 10 to 12 knots of breeze.
After Race 9, Massimo Mezzaroma and Antonio Sodo Migliori's Nerone, the defending Farr 40 World Champion, was two points ahead on the leaderboard and would win the championship on a count back (if required), so it was do or die for Guido Belgiorno-Nettis, his tactician John Kostecki and the Transfusion team.
It was a very even start, although Nerone was forced to tack away by Struntje Light (Wolfgang Schaefer). Transfusion hit the lead, a quarter way up the beat, and then Barking Mad (Jim Richardson) gradually edged forward. Nerone was back in sixth place but was closing fast. The tension was rising.
Around the top mark Transfusion was three lengths behind Barking Mad, Nerone was fifth and if those placings were held to the finish the championship would belong to Transfusion.
Down the run Flash Gordon (Helmut Jahn) was third and then there was a giant gap to Goombay Smash (William Douglass), Voodoo Chile (Andrew Hunn and Lloyd Clark), Edake (Jeff Carter) and Nerone who were all close together. Flash Gordon and Goombay Smash gybed early.
Transfusion was now 250 metres ahead of her championship rival, not that the distance mattered, it was how many boats were between them - Flash Gordon and Goombay Smash certainly, probably Edake and maybe Estate Master. But there was still half a race to go.
As Barking Mad came down to the bottom mark she was five lengths ahead of Transfusion. There seemed to be little the Aussies aboard Transfusion could do except hold off Flash Gordon. The Italians were dropping back through the fleet.
This morning Guido Belgiorno-Nettis said 'We are going out to enjoy the day's racing. We wonder if Guido enjoys this level of tension. Vasco Vascotto (Nerone's tactician) said we have to relax today and sail well.'
Fast forward … in the final race of the 2011 Rolex Farr 40 Championship Transfusion was less than two lengths behind Barking Mad at the spinnaker drop and then came Estate Master, Goombay Smash, Flash Gordon, Edake and Hooligan (Marcus Blackmore). Where was Nerone? 12th and definitely not relaxed!!
Back up the beat and as the leaders headed up the course Nerone appeared to be gaining on the right, she was with Hooligan, Voodoo Chile and Edake.
The World Championship could still be won by either boat.
As the leaders closed on the starboard layline it was Barking Mad, Transfusion, Goombay Smash, Estate Master, Flash Gordon, Hooligan and Nerone.
Transfusion was second around, Nerone seventh.
Down the run positions kept changing, Goombay Smash threatening Transfusion. Goombay Smash was ahead, but then Transfusion came back.
Barking Mad won Race 9 from Transfusion, Goombay Smash, Estate Master, Voodoo Chile then Nerone.
Transfusion is the new 2011 Rolex Farr 40 World Champion.
Nerone was second, with Barking Mad third.
Quotes to follow.