Chicago, IL, USA: Over the past 15 years, the Farr 40 class has hosted their World Championships at top sailing venues around the globe. Previously held in the U.S. two times in Miami, Newport and San Francisco, this year the fleet traveled for the first time to Chicago, with racing taking place on Lake Michigan, one of the five fresh water Great Lakes that form part of the boundary of the U.S. and Canada.
This fleet of 40-foot one-designs continues to enjoy close, competitive racing. With 160 boats built since the Farr 40’s inception in 1997, the Worlds always attracts formidable competition and the 2012 Chicago edition was no exception: 20 entries from eight countries including the U.S., Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Monaco, Turkey and Mexico. The owner/driver rule and limit of professionals on board is a large part of the Farr 40’s attraction, as are the boats themselves that continue to provide an exhilarating platform for one-design grand-prix racing. Hosted this year at the Chicago Yacht Club, the docks were filled with several prior Farr 40 World Champions including defending champion, Guido Belgiorno-Nettis on Transfusion (AUS), and three-time winner Jim Richardson, on Barking Mad (USA).
Chicago architect Helmut Jahn has won the 2012 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship after nine races across four days of competition on Lake Michigan. A stalwart of the grand-prix class, Jahn’s previous best result was a fourth place at last year’s Rolex Farr 40 World Championship which was contested in Sydney, Australia. After more than a dozen times racing in the world championship, it seems fitting that Jahn claims the 2012 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship title while racing from his home club, Chicago Yacht Club, against a backdrop of the city that is graced by some of his work.
With the race committee hoping to run three races for the final day of the series, the first race of the day got underway in a westerly breeze of 13 knots with gusts to 24. John Demourkas, on Groovederci (USA), led the fleet around the first two marks of the 6.4 nautical mile course, only to be overtaken by Hasip Gencer on Asterisk Uno (TUR) who cruised on to cross the finish just four hundredths of a second ahead of him. Enfant Terrible (ITA) was third across the line, followed by Charisma (USA) and Barking Mad (USA). Standings leader Helmut Jahn, on Flash Gordon 6 (USA), was sixth which was enough to both keep him in the lead and also increase his points cushion from 10 to 13.
After a wait for the wind to stabilize and then two general recalls, the second race got underway in approximately 12 knots with gusts to 17. Enfant Terrible won and was followed 10 seconds later by Nightshift and Heartbreaker, with Struntje light and Transfusion rounding out the top-five finishers. With a seventh place finish, their worst of the series, Flash Gordon 6 secured the championship crown. With the time limit for starting another race running out, the championship was determined with nine races.
Chicago, IL: Leaving no doubt as to the location of the 2012 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship, the Windy City produced plenty of breeze for the penultimate day of grand prix racing on Lake Michigan.
The southwest wind delivered as predicted, building over the course of the day as the clouds receded and temperatures rebounded by almost 30 degrees from their overnight low, an 18-20 knot breeze -- gusting to 32 -- propelled the 20-strong fleet on a 6.6 nautical mile course for the first race of the day. Wolfgang Schaefer, on Struntje light (GER), was first across the finish to win his third race of the championship, followed by four American teams: PLENTY, Groovederci, Heartbreaker and Flash Gordon 6.
“We had a great day today,” said Peter Holmberg, Schaefer’s tactician on Struntje light. “We set our strategy to get off the start clean and we picked the side we liked and it was a good choice. In the first race we got around in front and held our spot. Second race same plan, and it went very well. We finished second in that race. Yesterday was quite windy and today one step windier. We did a nice job on the boat, making our strategy...that was probably the most important and getting off the line clean. And our owner did a great job driving the boat. [Planning] for tomorrow, we’ll go out early and see what the pattern of the wind is and try to make some good decisions. But getting off the line clean is the most important thing.”
In the second race, with the breeze up to 20-35 knots, the win went to defending champion Guido Belgiorno-Nettis on Transfusion (AUS).
With a storm clearing the area overnight, crisp air and a sparkling Lake Michigan set the stage for an action-packed second day of competition at the 2012 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship.
"The lake is very deep out in the middle," said Principal Race Officer Peter "Luigi" Reggio who likened Lake Michigan to an inland sea and explained that not having tides, current or shallow spots on the race course also means that local knowledge is not a major factor when racing in Chicago. "It shoals up for about 20 miles and is only 30-40 feet deep, so when it blows out of the north the waves pile up as they get into the shallow water and they get pretty steep and nasty. For here [Chicago], that's the big issue."
With a 20-22 knot northwesterly breeze gusting to 28, 8-12 foot seas materialized, and, as the breeze was expected to decrease over the course of the day, the race committee stuck close to the day's timing plan when they sent the international fleet of 20 teams off on the first race -- a course of five nautical miles (NM). Wolfgang Schaefer, on Struntje light (GER), picked up where he left off the previous day and won his second consecutive race to start day two. He was followed across the line by Heartbreaker (USA), Flash Gordon 6 (USA), Enfant Terrible (ITA) and Kokomo (AUS).