Guido Belgiorno-Nettis’ Transfusion was declared the winner of the John Calvert-Jones Trophy and named the Aberdeen Asset Management Australian Farr 40 Champion for the 2012-13 season. Transfusion claimed victory in all three lead-up state titles and this afternoon collected the clincher, the nine-race national one-design regatta sailed over two days on a blustery Sydney Harbour.
This is Belgiorno-Nettis’ fourth national title in the class, having also been crowned in 2012, 2010, 2009, and in 2011 he won the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship in Sydney.
'We were progressively losing points in the first two races today so we thought we’d better pull up our socks, which we did in the seventh race then the next two races we sailed ordinarily again,' said the beaming skipper.
'We crossed the finish line thinking we’d lost to Kokomo, the three lead boats were so close at the finish line it was hard to see who was in front. It was right down to the wire, the tension on our boat was amazing.
'Today was very testing, we were right on the edge of our comfort zone and we were wondering how some of the other crews were handling the heavy conditions. We had a debate with the PRO Rob Ridley after race eight and he asked us whether we wanted to go into a fifth and final race. The consensus was to go ahead and complete the program.'
Second by one point was Lang Walker’s Kokomo (25 points) and third overall and first Corinthian Farr 40 was Andrew Hunn and Lloyd Clark’s Voodoo Chile (26 points) from Tasmania.
Quick responses, crew handling and keeping the mast pointing towards the sky in the gusty NNE winds on a wild and woolly Sydney Harbour, were key ingredients on the final day of the John Calvert-Jones Trophy regatta to decide the Australian Farr 40 champion.
Kokomo’s crew found their rhythm early in the fresh to frightening breeze, which was a solid 25 knots gusting up to 30 plus. The windier it got the stronger Walker’s classy outfit performed with two early bullets; meanwhile Transfusion’s crew were struggling to find their feet.
It was tit-for-tat all day between Transfusion and Kokomo, Voodoo Chile inching closer to the top of the scoresheet with each race. At the end of race six Kokomo was level-pegged with Transfusion and ahead on a countback. A fifth in the next race put them back to second by four points. By the end of race eight the pair was two points apart.
Kokomo’s UK based tactician Adrian Stead, said 'We knew we had to come out guns blazing today. Unfortunately we didn’t make the gybe or the layline in the last race, which was a disappointing finish as we had to win that final race to break the tiebreak.
'Certainly it was our best day of racing on Kokomo, our best team effort and Lang did bloody well steering for five races. I don’t think I’ve ever done an entire regatta where we’ve had nine races with heavy weather jibs up,' he pointed out.
Third overall and first Corinthian Farr 40 was Andrew Hunn and Lloyd Clark’s Voodoo Chile, the slick red-shirted brigade flying the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania’s burgee on a Farr 40 chartered from Lang Walker.
On their podium finish Hunn said, 'That would have to be the best result we can expect and we are absolutely delighted. We were a lot better for last weekend’s run, better again for the run Friday and it came together beautifully today.
'Lang might be a bit miffed now that he chartered his boat to us,' joked Hunn, adding 'We are very thankful, he made our regatta possible.'
Five races were completed in quick succession today, two laps of the course set off Clarke Island, near Double Bay, per race. They were hard windward works to the top marks laid off Nielsen Park at Vaucluse and lots of crash gybing and kites flogging in the following breeze once the fleet turned the corner.
The remnants of the low pressure system that has wreaked havoc on Sydney this weekend continued to dictate conditions for the curtain closer, a strong wind warning, warm north-east breeze, declining sea state, 74% humidity and heavy cloud cover creating a surreal scene on a hazy and almost empty Sydney Harbour.
A few brave spectators appreciated the sailing demonstration by some of the world’s best; Morgan and Mitch White, Adrian Stead, Richie Allanson, Steve McConaghy, Rob Brown, Michael Blackburn, Gordon Maguire and Bruce Savage, just some of the better-known from the crew list.
Teams strapped in for some hairy rides, the 10 Farr 40s throwing up plenty of wake running downwind at 18 knots. The sprints didn’t end well for some including Ivan Resnekov’s iMpi, the crew forced to cut through the spinnaker halyard to prevent their kite pulling them on to the rocks at Bradleys Heads after a spectacular wipe-out laid the boat over in race six, and forced their retirement.
At the top mark rounding in race five Martin and Lisa Hill’s Estate Master wildly broached then rounded up the other way, an unplanned manoeuvre that cost them a couple of places and turned a few hairs grey. The Hills finished up fourth overall, unable to lock Hunn and his young ace tactician, David Chapman, out of the top three.
This weekend’s national one-design series was dedicated to the class’ forefather and the first Australian Farr 40 World Champion, John Calvert-Jones, who was on the water watching the final day of competition and this afternoon presented the trophy to the ultimate victor.
'I am surprised and greatly honoured to have the regatta named after me,' said Calvert-Jones, who has been involved with the Farr 40s since their inception 16 years ago and last raced in 2005.
'The key to this class is the quality around the world and the fact they haven’t been modified hugely because they are fundamentally well-designed and already so competitive.
'The class is incredibly well run and Geoff Stagg has shown what you can do if you have an energetic leader. It’s a terrific yacht, which is continuing to do well around the world in a difficult economic climate.'
Sam Hill, owner/skipper of Forty has been instrumental in the uniting active Australian Farr 40 owners and putting together a hard-fought series in Brisbane, Hobart and finally Sydney where the NSW state titles led into this weekend’s nationals, conducted by the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron at Kirribilli.
Forty was crewed by a mostly young team including the brother and sister duo of Will and Sasha Ryan, back from their Olympic 470 duties, and also Stacey Jackson, who runs the pocket maxi Black Jack for Peter Harburg and recently tried out for an all-women Volvo Ocean Race team.
Dockside this afternoon Forty’s tactician Will Ryan said, 'Conditions today were at the upper extreme of the class but we came through. We certainly built the team over the regatta; we are a relatively new crew. The culture on this boat is that we are there to enjoy it, if we can mix it with the big boys and make it difficult for them then that’s what we will do. We hope to be back next year.'
Forty placed fifth overall, today’s two thirds moving them into the top half on the series scoresheet.
The youngest crewmember this weekend was 16 year-old Sam Lambourne, the middleman and downwind trimmer on dad David Lambourne’s Queensland Farr 40 Lambourdini. He’s been sailing on and off in the class for three years, 'whenever dad needs me' said the youngster, adding this morning 'It’s fun, I love it.' When Lambourdini came ashore at the end of race eight with no spinnakers left to fly, Sam was a little less enthusiastic, but still smiling nonetheless.
Brett Jollie, Aberdeen Asset Management’s managing director, presented the series trophies this afternoon to the placegetters. On their first year of a three-year partnership, Jollie said, 'We have been delighted to be part of the national Farr 40 series this year. Throughout the series we have seen a great deal of skill and professionalism shown by the crews under a wide range of conditions.
'I congratulate the boat owners and crews on a wonderful competition; we look forward to an even bigger season next time around.'