A win for Barking Mad yesterday puts her at the top of the scoreboard at the Rolex Farr 40 worlds in San Francisco

A day of sun, big breeze and a short lumpy sea on San Francisco Bay proved to be the favoured conditions for Jim Richardson’s Barking Mad at the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship yesterday. The New England-based team set the tone by winning the first of three races and is the only boat in the 31-strong fleet to have a score line comprising single-digit results. Today’s first race began in lighter conditions with the sea breeze kicking in and building during the afternoon to more than 25 knots. Massimo Mezzaroma and Alberto Sodo Miglori’s Nerone from Italy is in second place, with Peter de Ridder’s (Monaco) Mean Machine in third-place overall.

After some extreme tactics at last year’s Rolex Farr 40 worlds in Sardinia, which disqualified Barking Mad from the penultimate race, the team has been playing it safe this time. “The thing about the early days of a regatta is that you can put yourself behind the eight ball and that’s difficult to recover from,” said Richardson, who is the 1998 world champion. “So we’ve been trying not to lose the regatta in the first couple of days and position ourselves for the end.”

Barking Mad’s tactician Terry Hutchinson (Annapolis, Md.), who won the J/24 world championship on this course six years ago, explained the day’s strategy. “We did our best to get off the starting line in a position that wasn’t going to be at a disadvantage to the rest of the fleet,” he said. “We’ve been doing a pretty good job at getting the best starts without too much risk, and then from there, pick our way through when we can. We aren’t trying to hit any home runs. We’re relying on the things we do well to get us past boats.”

The Italians seem to be almost shadowing their old rivals on Barking Mad around the race course. “They are the defending world champions,” explained Richardson. “They know they have to beat us and we know we have to beat them.” While 12 points seems to be a comfortable lead, Richardson and his tactician are only too aware that all it takes is one bad result in one race to see this evaporate. “It’s a war of attrition right now to get to Saturday,” said Hutchinson.

As ever there is much dockside discussion about the tactics for sailing San Francisco’s Berkeley Circle, with the most common advice being to ‘hit the right side’ of the course going up the beat, where there can be advantageous current in the deeper water, followed by a favourable shift off Angel Island. In fact yesterday’s three races were all won off the start line.

Peter Stoneberg’s (Orinda, Calif.) Shadow won the second race. “It was a perfect race,” said tactician Peter Isler (San Diego, Calif.). “The right was favoured and we were fast. We started in the upper third of the line, punched on all the boats around us, and upped the speed. It was a classic good start, our first of the regatta. We pushed for two minutes and tacked over and I said to the boys ‘we could win this race.’ Then it all fell into place.”

Richard Perini’s (Atarmon, Australia) Evolution team, the winners of today’s third race, are sailing a brand new boat in anticipation of being the top local boat when the Rolex Farr 40 Worlds are held in Sydney, next March. “We got a great start at the pin end and we were able to tack across pretty much straight after the start,” described tactician Hamish Pepper, who recently returned from Athens where he represented New Zealand in the Laser class. “We had a good lead right from the beginning. We jumped out at the start and had a good lane across, then the breeze shifted to the left and gave us a nice 50-yard lead at the top mark. They don’t often come like that, but when they do, it is fantastic.”

Racing continues through Sunday. Three races are planned for tomorrow, the third day of racing.

Results (day 2)

1. James Richardson, Boston, Mass./Newport, R.I., Barking Mad, 9-2-1- 4-2, 18pts

2. Massimo Mezzaroma, Rome, Italy, Nerone, 10-3-3-8-6, 30 pts

3. Peter De Ridder, Monaco, Mean Machine, 7-1-10-12-4, 34 pts

4. Steve & Fred Howe, San Diego, Calif., Warpath, 15-5-2-11, 45 pts

5. Marc Ewing, Glencoe, Ill., Riot, 8-19-8-6-10, 51 pts

6. Chuck Parrish, Hillsborough, Calif., Slingshot, 16-9-15-5-7, 52 pts

7. Peter Stoneberg, Orinda, Calif., Shadow, 11-6-24-1-12, 54 pts

8. Richard Perini, Atarmon, Australia, Evolution, 12-11-11-20-1, 55 pts

9. Erik Maris, Paris, France, Twins 2-5-3-6-10-25, 59 pts

10. Eivind Astrup, Oslo, Norway, Norwegian Steam, 1-5-21-18-19, 64 pts

11. Marco Rodolfi, Comasco, Italy, TWT, 2-16-20-23-3, 64 pts

12. Steve Phillips, Arnold, Md., Le Renard, 17-10-2-26-9, 64 pts

13., Philippe Kahn, Soquel, Calif., Pegasus, 6-27-4-3- 30, 70 pts

14. Robert L. Hughes, Ada, Mich., Heartbreaker, 13-22-7-14-14, 70 pts

15. Takashi Okura, Tokyo, Japan, Sled, 3-17-22-13-17, 72 pts

16. Vincenzo Onorato, Naples, Italy, Mascalzone Latino, 21-25-13-7-8, 74 pts

17. Giovanni Maspero, Milan, Italy, Joe Fly, 20-8-18-17-18, 81 pts

18. John Kilroy, Los Angeles, Calif., Samba Pa Ti, 26-4-9-22-22, 83 pts

19. Arien van Vemde, Loosdrecht, Holland, Sotto Voce, 19-29-14-16-5, 83 pts

20. Scott Harris/Alex Geremia, Santa Barbara, Calif., Crocodile Rock, 14-26-16-11-16, 83 pts