Twenty teams from eight countries will be lined up tomorrow to race for two days in the Farr 40 Pre-Worlds, the opening act of next week's 2012 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship held at Chicago YC. And while the Pre-Worlds marks the beginning of the Worlds, it also is the last two days of racing in the five-event North American Circuit leading up to this final showdown. Eleven teams entered this series, which started at Quantum Key West in January, went to Miami in March, Annapolis in May, Newport in July and now will finish in Chicago.
Racing in the Rolex Farr 40 Worlds will start next week on Monday, September 17th and run daily through Thursday, September 20th.
Leading the US Circuit is Jim Richardson and his Barking Mad team from Newport, RI. Richardson won the last stage in Newport to earn the North American Championship crown, and won the first stage in January at Quantum Key West. Barking Mad has earned three past World Championship titles, dating right back to 1998 in the class's inaugural Worlds in Miami, so they sit as a strong favorite here in Chicago.
The series runner-up, however, is only three points back, is also a multiple World Champion, and comes to Chicago well-armed for battle. Alberto Rossi's Italian team on Enfant Terrible not only won the NA Circuit event #2 in Miami, but just a month ago defended his title as the ORCi Offshore World Champion, defeating 45 competitors from 15 countries in at the Audi ORCi World Championship in Helsinki. While not a Farr 40 class event, Rossi said "It was a difficult series, but we are really pleased. The team sailed very well through some tough conditions, but in the end it was our consistency that was important."
And it may very well be consistency that wins this series as well, as the third-placed team in the standings, Wolfgang and Angela Schaefer's Struntje Light team, has put all third-place finishes on the leaderboard. The German team stands only three points behind Enfant Terrible, and with one discard available in the series may be able to overcome the leaders if they trip and fall in this last and most difficult circuit event. Not only does this have the largest turnout of boats, but these boats are littered with tactical talent among several Olympic medalists, class World Champions, match racing champions, and America's Cup veterans.
"We have had this Pre-Worlds format in this class for 15 years now, and found it to be a really valuable tune-up opportunity for the teams as well as the race managers," said Geoff Stagg, Farr 40 Class Manager. "As the last event in the US circuit, it has also been a great incentive for the class to race together several times before leading into the Worlds, which makes them better prepared for the tough fight ahead."
The intent of the race management team led by Peter Reggio will be to start each day's first race in the Pre-Worlds at 11:00 AM, with no more than three races held each day, and no new race started on Saturday past 3:30 PM. The current forecast looks favorable for close racing, as post-frontal clearing skies will be accompanied by northerly winds on the Lake.
Daily race reports and photos will be available online at this website. Or follow the event via Twitter or on Facebook .