“It’s nice for my crew and me to be the current Farr 40 World Champions,” said Vincenzo Onorato of Milan, Italy days before the Rolex Farr 40 Worlds warm-up regatta this week. “But I will try to forget all of that when I begin the first race. Pressure is part of the game; if you are not able to deal with that, you better go cruising.” The adjectives that describe Farr 40 Class racing – intense, competitive, unrelenting – can be used to describe any one of the competitors, but especially two-time and current world champion Onorato, who is focused only on racing during the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship, set for Miami Beach on April 16-19.
Among the 33 entered teams, 10 countries are represented, with the bulk of the fleet (18) consisting of American and Italian entries. At the top of the list for favorites is Mascalzone Latino, Onorato’s entry. He will have his work cut out for him as there are three past world champions among the fleet – Barking Mad (USA), Jim Richardson’s two-time winner (2004/1998); Nerone (ITA, 2003), co-owned by Antonio Sodo Migliori and Massimo Mezzaroma; and Alinghi (SUI, 2001), owned by Ernesto Bertarelli and the 2007 runner-up – and about a dozen other teams capable of winning the coveted title.
As always, the fleet is home to notable professional sailors from America’s Cup, Volvo Ocean Race and one-design fame. In addition to Barking Mad, some of the stellar names are Adrian Stead on Mascalzone Latino; Paul Cayard on Steve & Fred Howe’s Warpath (USA); Gavin Brady on Rod Jabin’s Ramrod (USA); Brad Butterworth on Alinghi; Ian Walker on Doug Douglass’s Goombay Smash (USA); Ray Davies onboard Peter de Ridder’s Mean Machine (MON); Vasco Vascotto on Nerone (ITA); and Bouwe Bekking serving as tactician aboard HRH Crown Prince Frederik’s Nanoq (DEN).
For Cayard, a Rolex Yachtsman of the Year and Rolex Testimonee (since 1998), the goal is simple. “Our goal is to win the World Championship,” said Cayard, who rejoined Warpath after sailing with the team in the 2005 Rolex Farr 40 Worlds in Sydney, Australia where they finished fourth. “We have put a bit more time into preparing for the 2008 World Championship which will undoubtedly help us. We received a new boat for Acura Miami Grand Prix last month and finished third there. No doubt others have the same goal and the class is very competitive, so winning won’t be easy, but that is what makes winning special.”
Warpath has been competing for the past five years with notable top-10 finishes in major Class regattas, including a ninth-place at the 2007 Rolex Farr 40 Worlds, winning the 2007 Farr 40 Class North American Championship and a fourth-place at the 2005 Rolex Farr 40 Worlds. “It seems to me that the class is the most competitive it’s been,” said Steve Howe. “Most Farr 40 regattas are coming down to the last race, and all the top boats are sailing consistently well. Our team has really been working hard making sure not one stone goes unturned, we’re happy with the new boat; Quantum Sails and our team have been working really hard developing sails.”
In addition to sail development – now with the addition of the masthead spinnaker introduced to the Class last year – site-specific training figures into most of the teams’ plans.
Racing takes place April 16-19 on the Atlantic Ocean south of Government Cut. The Regatta Village is based at Miami Beach Marina, in Miami Beach, Florida. For on-the-water commentary and results reported from the Race Committee boat, as well as more information about the 2008 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship, including the full list of entries and crew, results, and photos go to the official event website www.farr40worlds.com