Great Racing at the Acura SORC

Sunny skies and great racing at the 2002 SORC

There’s something in the eyes of Farr 40 racers when they get off the water after a day of hard racing. Maybe it’s the competitiveness in the class, or the high skill level that many crews have reached, or the extremely crowded mark roundings. Whatever it is, when you talk to one of them after a day of racing, you get the feeling that these crews have seen more racing in one day than most of us see all year. The Farr 40 fleet at the 2002 Acura SORC is no exception. “We passed seven boats in six boat lengths today,” said Brad Read, a J/24 world champion from Newport who knows more than a thing or two about competitive one-design racing and is sailing on Bambakou this week. “We were heading towards a (downwind) finish on the port tack layline when one of the crew said the pin looked really favored. So we put the pole on the headstay and aimed at the pin. We passed seven boats that were on the starboard layline in the six boat lengths before the finish. It’s the very essence of Farr 40 racing, but as quickly as you can pass seven boats, you can also lose ten.” And while the crew of Bambakou aren’t in the top three, Read says that there’s absolutely no reason to feel bad about it. “When you get ping-ponged at a gate and look around to see who else it happened to, you’ll see great tacticians like Baird and Madrigali right there with you.”

In this class good crew work also makes a big difference and the crew of Atalanti XI appear to have that squared away. “We’ve been sailing with the same crew for three years,” says bowman Rick Brent, a Chiropractor from San Francisco. “Crew work is huge. We’ve been sailing together for so long as a team that we know that no matter what the back of the boat says, we know what to do.” Brent should know all about good crew work, he and Atalanti’s tactician, Robbie Haines sail together on Pyewacket and Brent was also a crewmember of America 3, the winner of the 1992 America’s Cup.

The top three boats in the Farr 40 class, Morning Glory, Samba Pa Ti, and Atalanti XI, are at 36, 37, and 38 points, respectively. No one will have a lock on this class until the final gun sounds on Sunday afternoon but these top three won’t surrender their places easily.

Those who sail in the Great Lakes may be slightly confused when they look at the results in PHRF 3 this week. Standing in third is a boat by the name of Thirsty Tiger, a familiar name to many who race out of Chicago and have seen a Santa Cruz 70, owned by Bert Dottavio, and bearing the same name in many regattas. The Thirsty Tiger that’s here in Miami Beach is an LS-10, a cruising version of the re-designed T-10. “Bert chartered the LS-10 when it was brand new and we put the name on for him,” explains Richard Stearns, owner of the LS-10. “We decided to keep the name on.” “And now they have to take me with them whenever they go racing,” quips Dottavio, a member of the crew for the SORC.

Thirsty Tiger, the LS-10 is a prototype design, and has a wheel and a higher boom than a racing 10 but shares the same rating. “In this regatta, the faster two boats in our class sail away from us, they’re just gone,” says Stearns. “ We need a little more breeze and some smoother water.”

With two full days of racing left, and a race committee that are doing their very best to get as many races off a day as they can, eight of the nine divisions racing here at the SORC have no true clear-cut winners yet. In IMS A however, a class composed of four members of the recently created U.S. IMS 50 association there appears to be a dominant boat, the Bruce Nelson-designed Idler. With six firsts in six races, George David’s well-practiced team, aided by tactician Ken Read, helmsman for America’s Cup hopeful Stars and Stripes, looks like they’ll be tough to beat.