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).
After a general recall, the fleet sailed a six NM course for the second race in 20 knots of breeze with three boats receiving a 20% penalty for being over early. Alexander Roepers' PLENTY (USA) carried a good start to cross the finish first. "The starts, as you can see, are pretty difficult," said Vince Brun, tactician on PLENTY. "It was good, really good competition. Everybody pushes the line very hard. We had a good start and we hit a nice shift on the first shift. From that point on, when you get a little space, the race is a little easier… you can basically control your own destiny."
Kevin McNeil on Nightshift (USA) saw his best result thus far with a second-place finish; Enfant Terrible (ITA), Hot Lips (USA) and Barking Mad (USA) rounded out the top-five finishers in the day's second race. And after a clean start for the third and final race of the day, in 19 knots of breeze, John Demourkas, on Groovederci (USA), won his first race of the series. Struntje light (GER) and Transfusion (AUS) rebounded from their penalty-earning starts in the previous race to finish second and fourth, as Flash Gordon 6 (USA) placed third, and Barking Mad (USA) again took fifth.
Leading the overall standings after five races is Helmut Jahn after a consistent performance with Flash Gordon 6 (USA). As the only skipper in the fleet to carry only single-digit finishes on his scoreline, Jahn's 20 points gives him a nine-point lead on the defending world champion, Guido Belgiorno-Nettis on Transfusion (AUS). Third overall is Italy's Alberto Rossi, on Enfant Terrible (ITA), with 32 points.
"We've been everywhere - Newport, Porto Cervo, in Copenhagen and Sydney - and I don't think there's any better racing than Chicago," said Jahn who has competed in the 15 previous editions of the Farr 40 World Championships. "I think it mattered [today] that you had a good speed and didn't make any mistakes. It's always the case when you race, no matter what. A lot of people got in fouls or protests and went over the start when there was a 20% penalty. We avoided those things. Consistency is something that always gets you through to the top. A day like this makes you believe you're doing the right thing."
The day's biggest mover on the scoreboard was three-time world champion Jim Richardson who moved up from last on Barking Mad (USA) after yesterday's finishes of 16-17, to tenth overall with finishes of 6-5-5 today for a total of 49 points.
Racing resumes Wednesday, September 19 at 11:00 a.m. and concludes Thursday, September 20, 2012, when winner of the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship will be crowned.
Top-5 Results (20 boats)
Place, Yacht Name, Owner/Skipper, Country, Results; Total Points
1. Flash Gordon 6 Helmut Jahn, USA, 2-6-3-6-3, 20
2. Transfusion, Guido Belgiorno-Nettis, AUS, 1-4-8-12/ZFP-4, 29
3. Enfant Terrible, Alberto Rossi, ITA, 3-3-4-3-19, 32
4. Groovederci, John Demourkas, USA, 5-7-15-9-1, 37
5. PLENTY, Alexander Roepers, USA, 9-9-12-1-10, 41