The 19th edition of the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship gets underway tomorrow. Hosted by the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, this is the third occasion the championship has been held in the southern hemisphere.
12 boats have entered representing Germany, the USA and, of course, Australia. Racing will be intense with a world class array of tacticians guiding their skilled owner/drivers through the scheduled 11-race series.The weather forecast for the four days of racing has an air of unpredictability, with the fresh southerlies expected for tomorrow and continuing into Wednesday before a more unsettled second half to the series. These anticipated changing conditions should aid in guaranteeing the complete test for which the Rolex Farr 40 Worlds is widely famed. With the Race Committee aiming to hold racing both outside and inside Sydney Harbour, crews will need to be well-prepared and ready to respond to a number of shifting circumstances.
John Kostecki’s stature in the sailing world is of the highest pedigree. He has proven his talent across all major disciplines: Olympic silver medallist (Seoul 1988), Volvo Ocean Race winning skipper (Illbruck, 2001/2) and America’s Cup winning tactician (BMW Oracle 2008). He is also the most successful tactician in the Farr 40 class, with unparalleled experience all but spanning the full history of this legendary world championship. Kostecki has four wins to his name: Samba Pa Ti (San Francisco 1999), Mascalzone Latino (2008), Transfusion (Sydney, 2011) and, most recently, Groovederci (Long Beach 2015).
Kostecki is more than qualified to sum up the ingredients necessary to succeed at this rarefied level of racing: “Winning this championship requires a combination of a lot of things, which is what is so great about our sport. There are so many variables involved in winning. You need a great team that works well together. The owner needs to be a top-notch helmsman. The sails need to be good, and fine-tuned. The boat must be well looked after. The whole package needs to be good … including obviously the tactician!” Kostecki is hoping to add a fifth championship to his list of palmares, and this year is reunited with Guido Belgiorno-Nettis’ Transfusion.
Putting the perfect package together has tested some of the finest minds in sailing and over the near 20 years of the Rolex Farr 40 Worlds only an elite few could claim to have come close to taming the challenge. With three wins to his name, most recently in 2013 with Alex Roepers and the American crew of Plenty, Terry Hutchinson is arguably Kostecki’s closest rival within the hybrid group of top sailors present this week. America’s Cup winning helm Ed Baird (on Helmut and Evan Jahn’s Flash Gordon USA), and four-time Olympian and a Rolex Farr 40 Worlds winner in 2005, Hamish Pepper (Wolfgand Schäfer’s Struntje Light) will not make it easy for Kostecki or Hutchinson.
And, of course, it is not just the stars that have flown in from abroad that will be looking to make their impression on the championship. The local talent who have made their names sailing on the demanding waters of Sydney, such as Steve McConaghy on Robert Pitt’s Double Black and David Chapman on Lang Walker’s Kokomo, will also have their eyes on the main prize and a chance to prove their ability at an elevated level and against their peers.
Racing for the 2016 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship begins tomorrow, Tuesday 16 February and continues through to Friday 19 February when the winner will be awarded the world championship trophy and a Rolex Yacht-Master timepiece. True recognition for achievement on the water.