Rolex Farr 40 World Championship - Coming of age in Newport

by KPMS 
ENFANT TERRIBLE (ITA) crew celebrating their Rolex Farr 40 World title
Rolex Farr 40 World Championship, Newport, RI. Passion and commitment are the two driving forces behind the Farr 40, one of the most competitive and successful classes of yachts worldwide, where Corinthian owners measure themselves against the best. There is no doubt that the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship is the most closely fought One Design event in the world.

The rules of the Farr 40 class require that the owner, or a family member, helm the boat, and they can’t be 'pros'. This, combined with the maximum allotment of four professional sailors in the 10-person crew, guarantees a fair level of play for all: with identical boats, it all comes down to skill, determination, training and teamwork.

The 16th edition of the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship was hosted by the New York Yacht Club at its magnificent Newport clubhouse Harbour Court, which overlooks one of the most historic sailing venues in the USA. Looking at the list of 15 entries from eight countries – Australia, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Monaco, Mexico, Turkey and the USA – and the line-up of world-class tacticians with an endless list of America’s Cup, Volvo Ocean Race and Olympic titles, it was impossible to select a favourite. Given the varied conditions that ranged from light breeze, to stronger winds, rain, fog and sunshine, no one among the fleet could really claim a definite advantage.

After four days of intense competition over ten windward/leeward races, it was a tiebreaker that determined the winner of the 2013 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship: Alberto Rossi and his all-Italian crew on Enfant Terrible. The Italians earned their title thanks to a greater number of wins in the series, ahead of Kevin McNeil’s Nightshift (USA). Jim Richardson and Barking Mad (USA), a three-time winner of the World Championship, finished in third three points behind the leaders. Chicago architect Helmut Jahn, defending world champion with Flash Gordon 6 (USA), finished fourth.

Every day of the 2013 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship unfolded with a different twist and the crews had lots of stories to share once back on shore.

The Rolex Farr 40 Worlds 2013 fleet under spinnaker on the first day of racing - 2013 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship

The story of the opening day was the brilliant feat of Dutch-born Nico Poons who scored three consecutive wins on Charisma (MON): 'I knew it was possible, but three bullets in a row is pretty amazing,' confessed Poons, who attributed his success to good starts, well-thought tactics and also a little bit of luck with a couple of wind shifts. Poons emphasized that he benefited from 'excellent crew work by a very motivated team and flawless communication on board.' Poons had no illusions, though, of what was expected to stay on top: 'You just can’t sit in your lead in this class. Anything can happen in a moment.'

The second day of the championship was dominated by a thick white fog, while two flamboyant crews scored one victory each: the Americans of Nightshift in their colourful Hawaiian shirts, and the Italians of Enfant Terrible clad in national azure blue. Nightshift owner Kevin McNeil, who started the day tied for third overall and leapt to the top on finishes of 1-2, thought that the fog added an element of fun, 'it was pretty cool,' and credited his success to 'spot-on starts and real good communication.' For Enfant Terrible’s Alberto Rossi, navigating through the fog was not as amusing and losing their VHF at sea didn’t make things any easier: 'Today’s conditions were quite challenging, it was really hard to read the course clearly as the fog kept shifting. We didn’t even realise the last race had been shortened!'

Stronger winds and a desire to consolidate positions led to plenty of action on day three of the Worlds. The strongest teams emerged, with the top three separated by a mere six points: Nightshift, followed by Enfant Terrible and Barking Mad in hot pursuit. Kevin McNeil credited Nightshift’s success to teamwork, clean starts and good rig tuning: 'Everybody’s focused. I am just the jockey, they [the crew] are the ones who really pull it off.' About his plan going into the final day, McNeil commented: 'Too bad hope is not a strategy. We will just do what we do. We are cautiously optimistic.' After an initial ninth Jim Richardson’s Barking Mad scored two bullets: 'There’s a lot of potential but also a lot of danger. We don’t have anything to lose, so we don’t need to defend as much as attack.'

The final day was pretty stressful for everyone – particularly for Enfant Terrible, who had to make up four points to overhaul Nightshift, the leader coming into the last day. On their strategy, Enfant Terrible’s Alberto Rossi explained: 'We had two completely different approaches – we had to win the first race, so we went in pretty aggressively and the outcome was good. Having gained two points, we were able to sail the last race with a slightly more conservative approach.' Beaming after being crowned 2013 Rolex Farr 40 World Champion, Rossi commented: 'It’s been a very challenging week – we were chasing a title that we really wanted and we had been working all year for. The guys did an amazing job and they never let go even when things went wrong. I am very proud of my team.'

The Farr 40 fleet rolling through the fog under spinnaker - 2013 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship

Ending the World Championship on tied points confirms the competitiveness of the Farr 40 Class and this is exactly what the owners love about it – the contest, the camaraderie, the challenge. Rossi is sure about his future with Enfant Terrible: 'I love these boats, I love the people and everything about this class – I am not going anywhere.' This is clearly a compliment, coming from someone who thinks of himself as quite the Enfant Terrible – which the dictionary defines as 'a usually young and successful person who is strikingly unorthodox, innovative, or avant-garde'.

Although Jim Richardson’s dream of conquering a fourth world title with Barking Mad didn’t come true, the event was hugely successful for the Chairman of the Farr 40 Class: 'The week was very interesting and challenging. The racing was terrific and the best boat won, which is all you can ask for,' commented Richardson, after praising the work of the race committee and the organizers.

For Geoff Stagg, Farr 40 Class manager, the 2013 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship was 'business as usual', although he jokingly admitted: 'My blood pressure can’t take it any more! This is typical Farr 40, it always comes down to the last day-last race-last run. What a great spectacle, superb racing and we ended on such a high note – it can’t get any better than that.' When asked about what keeps this class going so strong, Stagg was adamant: 'Unquestionably it’s the owners. They have such a passion for their class and their boats and each other, that is the secret to this success.'

NANOQ (DEN) on port tack in one of the two starts of Day 2 - 2013 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship

Hosting the Rolex Farr 40 Worlds for the third time, Newport was graced by a gilded presence: HRH Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark who raced on Nanoq with a mostly Danish crew. After an absence from the class, the 'royal' team had to work hard to get back in sync. 'Everyone pushed really hard, the class is tighter than ever and we improved a lot,' commented HRH Crown Prince Frederik. After praising his crew, he explained why he has chosen this particular class: 'I love the challenge of the Farr 40 class and the fact that I can measure myself against professional sailors of incredible talent and many Olympians.'

Two fully Corinthian teams also competed at the 2013 worlds: Zoltan Katinszky’s White Knight (USA) and Oakcliff Racing (USA), who despite struggling against daunting opposition gained a wealth of experience. For Oakcliff Racing, the event provided a terrific opportunity to work on their skills: 'Racing is incredibly tight, the starts are always a challenge and it doesn’t get any easier from there, but we’ve greatly improved and thoroughly enjoyed this fantastic experience,' commented helmsman Seth Cooley.

The 2013 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship concluded with a celebration at NYYC’s Harbour Court. During the official prize giving Alberto Rossi was awarded the Championship trophy and an engraved Rolex Yacht-Master timepiece, in true recognition of Enfant Terrible’s commitment on the water.

The bowmen of NANOQ (DEN) and CHARISMA (MON) calling the distance to the start line - 2013 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship


The next edition of the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship will be hosted by the San Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco, CA, USA, from 17 to 20 September, 2014.

2013 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship Results

Place, Yacht Name, Owner/Skipper, Country, Results; Total Points

1. Enfant Terrible, Alberto Rossi, ITA, 5-5-8-3-1-1-2-5-1-10; 41
2. Nightshift, Kevin McNeil, USA, 2-8-3-1-2-2-5-3-7-8; 41
3. Barking Mad, James Richardson, USA, 4-3-6-2-6-9-1-1-11-1; 44
4. Flash Gordon 6, Helmut Jahn, USA, 7-2-2-9-8-6-13-4-4-2; 57
5. Charisma, Nico Poons, MON, 1-1-1-11-9-16/DSQ-4-2-10-5; 60
6. Asterisk Uno, Hasip Gencer, TUR, 9-7-4-4-4-5-14-9-3-11; 70
7. Nanoq, HRH Prince Frederik, DEN, 6-6-7-14-7-4-9-6-5-6; 70
8. Plenty, Alexander Roepers, USA, 3-9-12-13-5-11-3-11-2-3; 72
9. Struntje light, Wolfgang Schaefer, GER, 13-10-5-5-3-13-7-8-9-9; 82
10. Transfusion, Guido Belgiorno-Nettis, AUS, 11-4-11-7-11-10-6-7-12-4; 83
11. Groovederci, John Demourkas, USA, 12-15-13-8-12-3-8-12-8-7; 98
12. Endorphin, Erik Wulff, USA, 8-12-9-12-13-7-11-10-6-13; 101
13. Flojito y Cooperando, Bernard Minkow/Julian Fernandez, MEX, 15-11-15-6-14-12-10-13-15-12; 123
14. White Knight, Zoltan Katinsky, USA, 10-14-14-10-10-14-12-14-13-14; 125
15. Oakcliff Racing, Seth Cooley, USA, 14-13-10-15-15-8-15-15-14-15; 134

Farr 40 Worlds