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Farr 40 AAM NSW State Title at Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron - Day 1

by Lisa Ratcliff on 17 Feb 2013 15-17 February 2013

Mixed conditions test Farr 40 tacticians

The Farr 40 class has a reputation for attracting some of the world's finest tacticians and day one of the Aberdeen Asset Management NSW State Title yesterday tested the mettle of even the most seasoned among the afterguard.

Once racing finally got away following a three hour postponement, UK based tactician Adrian Stead and Kokomo's owner/driver Lang Walker proved an unbeatable combination, the Sydney Farr 40 awarded boat of the day for their two wins and a second to finish the day with five points.

The internationally renowned Stead, who has raced many times with Walker's Kokomo crew both in Australia and overseas, picked the best lanes and last night Walker praised the efforts of his tactician and the rest of the crew for their "superb performance", which has put them in pole position going into today's final points chase.

While there were some hairy moments as different race fleets narrowly crossed paths with the 10 Farr 40s conducting their state title on Sydney Harbour, Walker is all for inshore racing. "Instead of bumping around off the coast it's more user-friendly for those newer to the class. Everyone seemed to enjoy it." On the plan for today, "We'll be giving it our best shot," he added cagily after returning to the host club, the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron at Kirribilli.

Second on progressive results after three races is the Farr 40 Australian class president, Guido Belgiorno-Nettis and Transfusion, with 11 points. Third and shadowing Transfusion is Martin and Lisa Hill's Estate Master, also on 11 points.

Corinthian boat of the day was Andrew Hunn's Tasmanian entry Voodoo Chile, which Hunn has chartered from Lang Walker for the NSW crown and next weekend's three-day nationals on Sydney Harbour.

Hunn and his 24 year-old tactician David Chapman, who last week won the RSYS's Hardy Cup on his fifth and final attempt, are eager for the Corinthian win. Voodoo Chile narrowly missed out on claiming an outright hometown victory in last month's Tasmanian state contest, but couldn't make an impact on the dominant Sydney trio yesterday, finishing fourth on the points table. "A Corinthian win would be a great achievement, anything else we'll take," said Hunn.

All 10 tacticians, who have the often unenviable job of whispering in the owner's ear about the boat's position while deducing where the next opportunity might present itself, had more than just shifty sou'easters to contend with yesterday. An early drenching under heavy cloud, lengthy postponement until mid-afternoon, and then factoring the 18 foot and Laser fleets plus the usual weekend harbour traffic into decision making created a few tension headaches for both amateur and professional tacticians alike.

"Today was all about being in the right place at the right time," agreed Principal Race Officer Rob Ridley after racing. "Conditions were very tricky and tomorrow looks like it will be the same."

Mixed fortunes came with the motley conditions and one boat that snatched the early break was Ivan Wheen's Sputnik. The Sputnik team has not raced together since the 2011 worlds and went into this weekend "with the bar set very low" to the point they raced on the harbour yesterday with an L-plate fixed to the boat's stern.

Despite their match fitness, tactician Tom King, a Sydney Olympic 470 gold medallist, pulled a rabbit out of his hat with a bullet in race one. The distractions of turning 40 this week and getting married next week were far from King's mind as he and his cohorts, many of them champion Etchells sailors, came out swinging.

The morning's steamy Singapore-like temperatures and the millpond that was Sydney Harbour was a testing start to the one design's NSW championship. Some three hours after competition was scheduled to start the first race got underway in 7 knots of SE breeze off Cremorne Point with the top mark north of Clarke Island. By the final race winds had built to 12 knots.

"The morning cloud and rain held off the sou'easter, it was a bit trying," admitted Ridley. With a similar forecast today and no warning signal after 3pm, completing today's scheduled four races appears a long shot.

Farr 40 major partner Aberdeen Asset Management used yesterday's series opener to entertain clients, a spectacular day out according to CEO Brett Jollie. "A lot are new to sailing and in particular one design racing which was tight, fast and mixed up." Today the company will take out staff and their families.

Full results can be found here.

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