Barking Mad leads the racing in the Farr 40 class at Rolex Baltic Week 18/8/07

The first day of the 4th Rolex Baltic Week started in Neustadt, Germany on yesterday (17 August) with four incredibly tight and exciting races in the international Farr 40 class.

The lead changed several times not only in all single races, but also in the overall ranking. At the end of the day the Jim Richardson’s US yachtBarking Madby had a narrow lead by just two points ahead of Sue and Lang Walker’sKokomofrom Australia.

The two German teams could not keep up with the frontrunners and finished fifth (Struntje light/Wolfgang Schaefer) and seventh (Opus One/Wolfgang Stolz).

“It was very tough racing in tricky conditions,” said Terry Hutchinson, who is the tactician on board the leadingBarking Mad. “But the race committee managed it pretty well.”

The day started with a fresh and gusty westerly breeze, which decreased later on and shifted in a thunderstorm front. These conditions caused the practice race for the European Championship of the international Melges 24 class to be abandoned. Their Europeans are due to start today (18 August) at 14 h local time.

The Farr 40 finished one race more than scheduled, however, because the forecast for the next day promises lighter winds. Hutchinson enjoyed every single race: “We battled for every meter and managed lots of manoeuvres – tacking, gybing, sail changes. The mark roundings felt like a ride on a roller coaster.” A place among the top five of the 13 boats during the single races would be a great success, said Hutchinson and his US team reached the goal three times on the first day. But the third race showed how quickly things can change. Hutchinson: “We were almost the last boat in the field, but were then able to recover and catch up finish seventh in the end.”

Owner and helmsman Jim Richardson, president of the international Farr 40 class association, takes Neustadt not just as a training session for the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship at the end of the month in Copenhagen, Denmark. “We also want to catch theKokomoin the European Circuit,” confirmed Hutchinson. But for thatBarking Madwould have to gain a few more points in the five remaining races.

For Terry Hutchinson the Rolex Baltic Week is the first regatta on boardBarking Madafter participating in the Rolex Farr 40 Worlds in Newport, USA last year. Meanwhile he was the tactician in the Emirates Team New Zealand crew, the America’s Cup finalist 2007. “It is great to sail the Farr 40 again.

The races are always a high level challenge,” said the US American.
Wolfgang Schaefer was not really happy with his result. “We struggled two times, but lost the chance for gaining a top position,” said the skipper ofStruntje light. The first start was especially annoying because the crew couldn’t avoid it. The mainsail of the AustralianIchi Banowned by Matt Allen got stuck to the spreader of the German boat which couldn’t point the starting line and had to head for it again. “In a top field like this you can’t catch up,” reported Schaefer who finally came eighth in this race.

ForIchi Banit was the end of the first race. Her brand-new mainsail ripped and Matt Allan had to change to his old and used sail. Another race finishing eighth helped the skipper and crew to get back into good shape. They finally scored two bullets and came fourth overall at 24 points behind the ItalianFiammaof Alessandro Barnaba (19).

Results (after four races)
1st Barking Mad (Jim Richardson, USA) 15 points
2nd Kokomo (Lang Walker, Australia) 17
3rd Fiamma (Alessandro Barnaba, Italy) 19
4th Ichi Ban (Matt Allen, Australia) 24
5th Struntje light (Wolfgang Schaefer, Germany) 26
6th Groovederci (John Demourkas, USA) 27
7th Opus One (Wolfgang Stolz, Germany) 29