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Preparing for the 2009 Farr 40 World Championship
(June 22, 2009) When the Farr 40 class gathers this week in Porto Cervo, Sardinia for the 2009 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship, there will be two predominant story lines: Will Vincenzo Onorato and his Mascalzone Latino team win a fourth straight title, and can the class avoid the controversy that ended the 2008 event.
At last year’s Worlds in Miami, FL, Mascalzone Latino (ITA) had led since the first race, but they were now being pressed hard by Giovanni Maspero's Joe Fly (ITA). The pivotal moment came at the first weather mark on the final day when Joe Fly closely leebowed Jim Richardson’s Barking Mad (USA). Mascalzone Latino witnessed what they believed to be a foul, but when Barking Mad did not protest, ML did, with the judges ruling against the Joe Fly team, and thus ending their title hopes.
What followed were hard feelings and strong words, with Maspero claiming a jury conspiracy and a threat to leave the class. A year later, all three teams have returned, and Scuttlebutt checked in with Barking Mad tactician Terry Hutchinson about the incident last year, and what he expects for this year’s championship:
A year later, what lessons have been learned from that 2008 Worlds incident that have helped you as a competitor?
Not to over simplify it, but if you foul somebody do your penalty turns. Now in defense of Joe Fly there were no whistles blown at the time as discussed by the jury but that simply meant they did not see the situation - not that the situation did not happen. At a 2009 Worlds meeting, we have been reminded that just because there is no whistle does not mean there was not a foul. I go back to if you think you fouled - don't wait for the whistle - just do the penalty turn.
After winning the Worlds in 2004, and finishing third in ’06 and ’07, the Barking Mad team stumbled in 2008 to finish 8th. What was learned from that event which will help you seek the 2009 title?
Good question. The most disappointing thing about our final three finishes (24-22-22) is that we had race winning starts in all three, but the simple fact was we were slow. It is a trait that has been with us the past couple of years in certain conditions and so really all we can do is go back to the drawing board and try to get better. Our set up has been so critical and narrow that inevitably we needed to widen our mode. So we continue to refine our sail shapes and experiment with the groove to see what we can and cannot do.
What are the characteristics of this racing venue, and what has your team done to prepare for them?
The characteristics are generally either very windy 20-25 in mistral with fairly flat water or light sea breezes. We have not done anything out of the ordinary to prepare but I would say if anything we are shy on time in the boat. This is a little bit by design though as last year we were so prepared that when we started doing poorly we did not know what to do to stop the bleeding. The crew work was crisp, we started well but we were not as fast as the top boats. This year we are sailing with the same people and have worked on consistency. Through the winter we have worked on racing the same whether we are in first place or tenth place. Same demeanor, same communication, same tone. In this game you win a lot on the cohesion of the team and ultimately how fast the owner is driving the boat. So even though we have the luxury of sailing a lot together it is work in continually pushing ourselves to be better.
Have there been any developments over the past year (sails, rigging, tuning, etc.)?
We have started using Quantum Sails on Barking Mad and have worked hard on developing an all-carbon mainsail that is versatile and widens the groove. The last 4 world championships have been won by a team using a mainsail design from 2005. It is a nice sail and the balance of luff curve to vertical shaping was really good. As we tried to transition to carbon we could not get the same flying shape which was frustrating as inevitably we went back to old faithful. Our development of the Quantum mainsail has been to emulate the ‘05 design which we liked. Time will tell if we get there but it has been a great learning process and keeps everybody on board focused on pushing for every ounce of boat speed that we can get.
Which teams do you expect to be in the top 5?
This is going to be a bloody hard regatta to finish in the top 5. There are a lot of teams here that we have not seen in a while but you know are good. Nerone, Mascalzone Latino, TWT, Calvi, Kokomo, Estate Master, Transfusion… the list goes on and on so it is a hard one to call. Without question it is a battle of consistency and finishing strong after 10 races while surviving the first 6 will ultimately be the secret to success.
When you read Scuttlebutt, what are you hoping to find?
That I am not getting bagged!
Photo by Kurt Arrigo from 2008 Worlds. Click on image for additional photos.
2009 Farr 40 World Championship website: www.farr40worldchampionship.com
2008 Farr 40 Worlds final story: www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/archives
2008 Farr 40 Worlds video: www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/media/08/0421
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