Gusts, guts, and glory on the water

Farr 40s march across Nantucket Sound on a downwind leg. — Photo by Steve Myrick

There was a moment, just before the starting horn of race 7 in the Rolex Farr 40 North American Championship series race last Saturday, that would make any racing sailor’s heart skip a beat.

As 11 boats charged for the line off Joseph A. Sylvia State Beach, the Italian entry Enfant Terrible with Roberto Strappi at the helm appeared hopelessly early, trapped on the pin end of the starting line with no place to turn except off the course. With a few seconds to go before the horn, the helmsman bore off suddenly, waited until just the right moment, and steered a risky course back for the line. With split-second sail trimming, he accelerated like a waterborne rocket, and hit the line precisely as the horn sounded.

One tiny miscalculation, and Enfant Terrible would have had to steer outside the starting buoy, or give way to a competitor. Instead the boat shot through a tiny hole on the left side of the line, and sailed away with the lead.

Such was the skill, tactical calculation, strategic maneuvering, and gutsy sailing on display during three days of racing hosted by the Farr 40 Class and the Edgartown Yacht Club, the fifth stop in the summer racing tour.

The Farr 40, a relatively simple design that puts a premium on fast sailing, has proved to be a popular one-design class for topnotch professional and semi-professional sailors.

On Saturday, the final day of the three-day regatta, Dutchman Nico Poons aboard Charisma was in good position to capture overall honors with three wins and three second-place finishes in the seven previous races.

Sailing for the tiny nation of Monaco with a mostly Dutch crew decked out in, what else, orange shirts, Charisma needed a safe and solid performance to secure the victory. After a botched start and an 8th place in the first race of the day, the crew rallied for two second-place finishes in the final two races, easily besting Barking Mad for the top cumulative score after ten races.

Barking Mad, owned by James Richardson of Boston, earned two firsts and three seconds in the 10 races.

The Italians, in Alberto Rossi’s Enfante Terrible, were third overall.

Teams from the USA, Italy, Mexico, Monaco, Germany, and Turkey competed in the regatta.

With nine crew members on each boat, support teams, as well as family and friends traveling to Martha’s Vineyard for a week or more, Edgartown’s business community counts the regatta as a significant economic boost to the already busy summer season.

After stops earlier this year in Key West, Miami, Annapolis, and Newport, the series returns to Newport August 24 -30 for the Rolex World Championships.