by Victoria Low
Of the two Farr 400’s from overseas that will take part in the Quantum Key West 2013, Claus Landmark’s appropriately named Santa is from the most northerly of latitudes.
Landmark, a leading Norwegian marine trade figure and past veteran of two Whitbread Round the World races has assembled a top class Scandinavian crew, which is lead by Denmark’s double Olympic gold medallist Jesper Bank.
The Scandinavian Vikings have aspirations to steal top honours in Key West and undoubtedly have the talent to do so, but the Santa owner knows there will be no gifts on the racecourse and he and his team are very much on the same steep learning curve that his rivals also are.
Home for the most northerly Farr 400 in the global fleet is actually Norway. Landmark took delivery of his boat, hull number 11, in July last year and competed first in the giant Round Gotland Race and later the ORCi Worlds in Finland, with moderate results. Santa’s performance picked up gradually during the season with a win at the prestigious ORCi race in Germany, and later gaining reasonably good results in the Autumn Cup in Copenhagen.
Now, ready to step up to the highest level of competition for the class at the moment, Landmark and his crew bring Santa to Key West.
The team has completely changed since last season in keeping with the elevated ambitions. Bank (55), who recently helmed both the Swedish and later the German teams (monohulls) in the America’s Cup, will lead a Danish / Norwegian team of experienced individuals. In total there are an impressive number of Olympic medals, world championships and Whitbread /Volvo circumnavigations among the Scandinavian Farr 400 crew. But most of the team is made up of amateurs with a passion for sailing, and especially Farr 400 One Design racing in particular.
Landmark, whose first round the world was the 1981-82 Whitbread aboard Peder Lunde’s Berge Viking on which they finished eighth in the 29-boat fleet, explains: 'We got the boat in the summer and, as with every new boat you need to get used to it so we have spent some time learning it. And now we have really increased our ambitions. We have put together a good crew and here we are going to give it a go at a high level. We will start out at Key West and Miami and then go to the Mediterranean to do the ORCi worlds again and events like Copa del Rey.'
Coming to get you - You won't see it for long before the Farr 400 flies by. - Farr 400
He continues: 'It has taken us a while to learn the tuning and the trims for the boat, but we feel much more confident now and think we know the boat. But we know it is not going to be easy. We are on a steep learning curve. '
'For us it will be fun to create a sound group of individuals and bring them together as a team. That is part of the challenge for us. Many are used to running their own projects.'
'I am in the boat business and have worked with Premier Composite Technologies for many years, including developing the Landmark 43, which they built in Dubai.
Recalling that early, formative round the world experience, Landmark recalls: 'That was way back when there were 29 boats on the start line and it was a very different race.'
'This will be my first time racing at Key West but I have fond memories of racing at the SORC before.'
'We are very keen to promote this Farr 400 project at home. There is a good amount of interest in the sailing community and so far we have had a very positive reaction. But we are here to learn, to take one step at a time. And really we have no idea how we will get on up against the other Farr 400’s until we get out there and race.'
Quantum Key West runs from Monday 21st January through to Friday 25th January. Five Farr 400’s will be racing in the HPR fleet, including three boats from the USA, one from United Arab Emirates and Santa from Norway.