Sail Scene Florida & South June 2007

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Farr 40s duel on Biscayne Bay

After nine grueling races over four days, the final race and final 20 feet of that race determined the winner of the Rolex Farr 40 North American Championship.

Two San Diegans, champions Steve and Fred Howe aboard Warpath, edged out French sailor Erik Maris’ Twins for the win.

Sixteen boats representing the United States and seven other countries competed March 8 to 11 on Biscayne Bay in the Acura Miami Grand Prix. With the class win, the father-and-son duo earned the Farr 40 class’ Baxter Trophy, the regatta’s overall Boat of the Week and a Rolex timepiece.

“This is a big win for us,” says Steve, who spends most of his time at the Warpath helm. “It was the culmination of our plan to keep chipping away over the past four years that we’ve been in the class. We were in the top six at the last three world championships, so we’ve always been knocking on the door, but not able to close it. With this regatta everything came together.”

After Acura Key West Race Week, Warpath needed to do something drastic. With a disappointing 14th place overall finish out of 17 boats, the team brought on a new tactician. Ian Williams, who spends most of his time on the match racing circuit maintaining his No. 2 world ranking, was an unknown for his fleet racing capabilities but quickly proved himself, according to Howe.

“Since it was our first time sailing together, there was a bit of uncertainty, but after speaking with other guys in the class, they spoke favorably of him and we decided to try him out. After our first day of practice, he was a perfect fit as far as personality and knowledge and skills.”

Twins led the fleet in points over the first three days. On the first day, Twins scored a 1-2 and was closely followed by Nerone, owned by past world champion Massimo Mezzaroma of Italy; and Norwegian Steam, owned by Eivind Astrup of Norway, both tied and gunning to the top slot. Warpath was in ninth place.

By the second day of racing Twins was still holding the lead, with Nerone a close second. However, Ernesto Bertarelli and his Alinghi had moved into third place. Despite a 9-12 finish on Day 1, the America’s Cup holders picked up the program and collected a 4-2. Also, on the second day, Nanoq, owned by Prince Frederik of Denmark, won a race under the tactical eyes of Bouwe Bekking and jumped from eighth to fourth in the overall standings.

The third day of racing seemed to turn the tide of fortune for Warpath. Only five points separated the top five teams and Warpath was now in second place overall, finishing fourth in the day’s first race and then winning the next. By now the Californian boat had claimed two first places and looked poised to claim the championship.

Before starting the final day’s racing, the team on Warpath discussed their plan. “The last day was no different than the others,” says Howe. “Our plan was to go out and sail our races, with the objective of sailing the best race we could.”

With a second-place finish in the day’s first race, Warpath was now tied for first place with Twins. “Coming into the last race tied with Twins definitely put the pressure on us for the last race,” says Howe. “We did a good job of holding them off, but they managed to catch up on the last run. We probably beat them by only half a boat length.” www.premiere-racing.com

Soundings launches Bermuda Bound blog

Soundings has launched a new blog, Bermuda Bound, in which senior writer Doug Campbell will chronicle his first Bermuda One-Two Yacht Race.

Campbell is competing in the biennial Bermuda One-Two aboard his Westsail 32, Robin. The regular blog postings will follow his planning, preparation and ultimately his voyage. Readers can link to the blog from the magazine’s Web site, www.soundingsonline.com .

Campbell hopes his blog will serve two purposes: to open a window for those who have dreamed of doing the Bermuda One-Two — showing what is involved in making it to the starting line — and to invite others to share their own offshore experiences and advice. The single-handed leg from Newport, R.I., to St. George starts June 9. The double-handed leg back to Newport starts June 22.

Campbell is the winner of four Boating Writers International awards. Before coming to Soundings, he spent 25 years as a staff writer for The Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper, where his writing was nominated for two Pulitzer Prizes. He has been sailing for about 25 years, and is a founder and first president of the Delaware RiverSailingSchool in Edgewater Park, N.J., a charitable, non-profit, community-based sailing program.

Caribbean regatta offers fresh breezes

A third day of perfect trade winds and pleasant sunshine on March 25 helped wrap up the International Rolex Regatta, where sailors on 87 boats competed in seven classes.

The event, in its 34th year and hosted by St. Thomas Yacht Club, is the oldest of the Caribbean’s popular spring racing events, with its unique blend of around-the-buoys and through-the-

islands racing mixed with lively local flavor and camaraderie ashore.

“This is one of the best island regattas because of the venue, the course selection, and the winds,” says defending champion Martin Jacobson of Greenwich, Conn., whose Swan 44 Crescendo won the Pillsbury Sound distance race and added the victory to three others in his six-race series to secure victory in the Spinnaker Racing Cruising class. “It’s why we come back.”

Jacobson’s class, along with four others on the Ocean Circle, sailed three windward/leeward courses on opening day and two middle-distance races on Day 2. The final day’s race, a navigator’s delight, totaled 21 miles and took about three hours for Crescendo to complete.

Straight bullets marked the overall regatta performances of three winning teams, whose skippers were awarded with Rolex Steel Submariner timepieces as prizes.

For Chris Stanton of St. Croix, USVI, who strung his victories together like a perfect pearl necklace in Spinnaker Racing Class 2, the final day’s winds, rather than local knowledge, helped put his Melges 24 Devil 3 ahead.

In the Non-Spinnaker class, which sailed only one race through the islands on opening day to include four races instead of six in its scoreline, it was Christopher Lloyd of Tortola, BVI, and his Beneteau 442 Three Harkoms, who won all the races to easily defend his crown.

Carlo Falcone of Antigua, the winner of Spinnaker Racing Class 1 on his Vallicelli 44 Caccia Alla Volpe, continued focusing on his closest competitor Clive Llewellyn of France aboard the Grand Soleil 48 Mad IV. He finished second to Llewellyn’s first in the final, but it was enough to edge Llewellyn out of first by two points.

The IC-24s, a fleet indigenous to the area, completed 13 races in their series, using this final day to complete five windward-leeward races on a separate racecourse instead of participating in the Pillsbury Sound race. Tied on point scores were Mio Broadband’s Robby and Michael Hirst of Tortola, BVI; and Orion’s Fraito Lugo of Ponce, P.R., with the tie-breaker going to Mio Broadband.

Enrique Figueroa and crew Jorge Hernandez, two names synonymous with Olympic sailing, easily won the final race and the Beach Cats class overall with their 20-foot Tornado Suzuki/Red Bull. The duo, which represented Puerto Rico in the Tornado class at the Athens Games and hopes to do so again at Quingdao in 2008, blew away their competition, but it was expected. Figueroa, either with his wife Carla or with Hernandez, has won this regatta at least a dozen times. www.rolexcupregatta.com

International sailing event coming Down East

Gov. John E. Baldacci and the state Department of Economic and Community Development announced this spring that Maine has been chosen to host an annual international sailing event for the 2007-2008 Sailing World Cup series. Part of the World Match Racing Tour, the professional sailing series includes professional sailors, America’s Cup teams and Olympic Gold medalists.

Maine’s historic maritime tradition and its challenging sailing waters will be featured on an international stage as skippers from around the world converge in Portland for the event, which is currently being scheduled by the World Match Racing Tour organization, based in England.

“This is an amazing opportunity for the state that will allow us to showcase Maine as a premier place to live, work and visit to an international audience,” says Baldacci.

Patrick J. Sikorski, director of Worldwide Venue Development and the World Match Racing Tour, touted Portland as an ideal local for a sailing event.

“Portland’s Casco BayHarbor and waterfront present one of the most ideal World Cup Sailing venues we’ve seen among all of our global stops, and when you combine all this with Maine’s 400-year-old maritime and boat building heritage, what you have is a spectacular new addition to our World Match Racing Tour,” says Sikorski.

The World Match Racing Tour was created in 2000 to unite the world’s best match-race events under one banner.

Thirty-four teams compete for the overall championship title by accumulating points at each event. Stops for last year’s Sailing World Cup included Croatia, Bermuda, Brazil, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, Portugal, San Francisco, and Switzerland. www.worldmatchracingtour.com