After two days and six races at the 2016 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship hosted by the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron in Sydney Australia, Alex Roeper’s Plenty from USA sits atop the leaderboard with a fragile one-point margin over fellow Americans Helmut and Evan Jahn’s Flash Gordon. There have been five different race winners so far, and no one has shown signs of building a strong lead. With two days remaining and a possible five further races there remains plenty to play for in this typically tightly contested series.
This is the third time the world championship has been held in Sydney and it has always proved an excellent venue. Conditions and excitement on the racecourse fulfil expectations, and in this 2016 is proving no exception.
Day 1 (Tuesday, 16 February) saw the fleet racing outside the entrance to the iconic harbour. A big swell from the south was capped with steep-sided waves as a southerly air flow confronted an opposing current. It was a brutal bruising day for the crews, who faced a mounting challenge as the wind freshened from 16 knots to 18-22 knots that had the Farr 40s surfing spectacularly downwind at speeds of up to 18 knots.
Plenty did not win a race but came out with a 5, 2, 2 score that gave her a four-point lead over German entrant Struntje Light and 2012 Rolex Farr 40 World Champions Flash Gordon – who each won a race along with Corinthian entry Edake from Australia. The next three boats in the standings were all sitting a further point behind, testament to the intensely competitive contest unfolding.
Wednesday saw the battle move inside the Heads. Conditions were in complete contrast to the previous day’s offering: flat water – albeit churned by the traffic in this busy port – and lighter winds that topped out at around 17 knots, still from the south, and gradually softened. Sydney Harbour is one of world’s truly great nautical locations and it lived up to its reputation serving up a different but still testing day for the 12 crews. Three more races, three different winners – two of them new. Revelling in a kinder playing field, playing the intricacies of current and shifting breeze, the crews put on another exceptional show of high-intensity sailing.
Plenty may be leading, but her closest pursuers Flash Gordon and Transfusion were joint boat of the day posting identically impressive score-lines that comprised 1, 2, 3 finishes. An 11-point gap has opened to the next group of contenders, proof positive of the heights which the front-runners have attained…so far.
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