LONG BEACH, CALIF. (June 2, 2011) - Memorial Day weekend was anything but tame for the Farr 40 fleet which experienced mixed weather conditions and tight competition at the 2011 Rolex Farr 40 North American Championship hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club in conjunction with the Farr 40 Class Association. The regatta was staged from Gladstone's Restaurant on the waterfront in the heart of downtown Long Beach and proved to be a spectacular venue, with the Queen Mary as a backdrop, for spectators and competitors to come together off-the-water. Winning six of eight races, including all three on Monday, Jeff Janov (Malibu, Calif.) of Dark Star escaped the grasp of West Coast standout and rival David Voss (Marina del Rey, Calif.), skippering Piranha, and returned home with a Rolex Submariner timepiece engraved with the Farr 40 logo.
"We have a very solid team with a wide range of experience and potential, and though the conditions were extremely challenging throughout the course of three days, we were all able to adapt," said Janov who has been involved in the West Coast Farr 40 Fleet since April 2008. Dark Star has already taken the podium three times this year, winning the Farr 40 Midwinters in Long Beach, the Ahmanson Cup in Newport Beach and placing second in the Yachting Cup in San Diego.
The action-packed weekend kicked off on Saturday with a lighter breeze than forecasted, and was combined with five-foot waves and a challenging chop. Though Dark Star and Piranha led the pack, Viva La Vida (formerly Goombay Smash), started off with a bang, winning her first race in the hands of new owners Bill Durant and Jeff Shew (both from Long Beach, Calif.).
Sunday brought strong winds, gusting to 30, posing a challenge for most of the fleet including class icon Piranha, which dropped out of contention in spectacular style. Piranha, a recent class winner of the Newport to Ensenada Race, was leading the fleet as it approached the leeward gate in Sunday's first race. When its spinnaker takedown went awry and the chute was dragged under the boat, the crew had to cut it loose as the rest of the fleet headed upwind. During race two Piranha suffered a broken spinnaker pole causing the back-up chute to go berserk in the heavy winds near the top of the 1.5 nautical mile course, and the boat rolled into a classic leeward broach. Due to the major spinnaker woes, Piranha placed ninth and seventh out of the ten boats that afternoon.
To avoid a repeat of the previous day, Monday's racing was moved inside the harbor and Piranha returned with a vengeance, turning the last two races into match races. Powered by a brisk southwest breeze reaching 14 knots, Piranha dogged Dark Star until the very end. The pair came down to the finish virtually boat-for-boat until Piranha suddenly doused its spinnaker to do a penalty turn as Dark Star crossed the line.
"The conditions this weekend varied, and the racing was very close, which is typical with our fleet," said Janov. "I have every expectation that Piranha will be as tough as they ever are in upcoming regattas."
Dark Star had the best speed, upwind and downwind throughout the three days and consistently started well, with one exception. On day one, Frederic Scheer's (Hermosa Beach, Calif.) Far Niente slammed the door on Dark Star at the race committee boat, leading to a fifth-place finish. Ironically, Far Niente finished only eighth in that race but closed strong by winning the next race and with no other finishes worse than fourth throughout the weekend, placed second overall ahead of Dirk Freeland's Skian Dhu (Santa Barbara, Calif.).
To top off the weekend, nine of the ten competing boats took on junior sailors from local yacht clubs on the final day of racing, including Far Niente with Ethan Michaelis, 13-year-old and Dark Star, which took 14-year-old Riley Gibbs. "He was an asset to our team and a pleasure to have aboard," said Janov. "Overall, the event was spectacular and run extremely well. It was a wonderful experience on and off the water."
The Farr 40 Class maintains an extensive international schedule that revolves around regional fleets in the U.S., Australia, Southern Europe and the Nordic region, with the annual Rolex Farr 40 World Championship serving as the class's "crown jewel" of competition. The 2011 Rolex Farr 40 Worlds were held in Sydney, Australia earlier this year and the 2012 Rolex Farr 40 Worlds are scheduled for September 19-22 at Chicago Yacht Club in Chicago, Illinois.
In addition to Rolex as title sponsor, the 2011 Rolex Farr 40 North American Championship includes as supporting sponsors Gladstone's Restaurant, bioplastics manufacturer Cereplast, Inc., Hyatt Regency Long Beach and The City of Long Beach Department of Parks, Recreation & Marine.
For more information about the Farr 40 class, the 2011 Farr 40 North Americans or the 2012 Farr 40 World Championship, please visit http://www.farr40.org. For more information on the West Coast Farr 40 fleet, please visit http://www.f40west.org
About Rolex Watch U.S.A.
Since Rolex Watch U.S.A. first presented timepieces to America's Cup defenders in 1958, the company has consistently recognized and encouraged excellence in every important arena of competitive sailing, including elite athlete preparation, US SAILING championships, disabled sailing, and offshore, one-design and women's events.