Long path to Copenhagen

We speak to Jim Richardson, current leader at Rolex Capri Sailing Week, about his Farr 40 program for this year

Friday May 18th 2007, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
American former Farr 40 World Championship Jim Richardson is in the glamorous Italian holiday island of Capri this week competing in the first of a lengthy string of warm-up regattas in Europe that will culminate in the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship in Copenhagen, Denmark at the end of August.

"Capri? Yes, it is a lovely place. The lemoncello is quite good," he tells us. No, lemoncello is always bad and evil, designed solely to ensnare unsuspecting tourists into leaving a larger tip at the end of meals. It usually works too.

Having just moved into pole position at Rolex Capri Sailing Week, Richardson is on top form when we speak to him. "Yes, it is pretty tricky, but we had a good day. We managed to dodge the big bullets so far," Richardson tells us. Despite being off their island, Rolex Capri Sailing Week is organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and is a regatta with four classes, pocket Maxis of 60-70ft length, Swan 45s, Comets (mostly the Italian manufacturer's 41, 45 and 51ft models) and the Farr 40s.

Posting a second and a fourth place yesterday Richardson's Barking Mad - the new Farr 40 he bought last year, still with only five regattas on the clock, is now firmly into the top spot overall on 20 points after Australian Lang and Sue Walker's Kokomo and Eric Maris' normally very consistent French yacht Twins, had double digit finishes. Even the Italian former World Champions on Nerone have been finding it tough despite this being home waters, going into yesterday's racing joint sixth with Siragusawa, the new Finnish yacht of Olli-Pekka Lumijarvi - one of several new owners entering the class from the Baltic nations prior to this year's Worlds. After yesterday's racing Massimo Stefano Leporati's Kismet has now moved up to second place on 32 points.

"Generally it’s been light, 8-11 knots and pretty variable some big shifts. It is pretty exciting. We’ve managed to hang at the front most of the time, so that is good," Richardson continues, while seated in Barking Mad's cockpit being heckled by Bouwe Bekking. Richardson normally has Terry Hutchinson calling tactics for him, but with Hutchinson occupied at the back of Emirates Team New Zealand's race boat for the next few days, hopefully weeks, the former movistar skipper is standing in. When Hutchinson's Cup duties are over so he will return to Richardson's side while Bekking moves back to his spot on Crown Prince Frederic's Farr 40 Nanoq. Bekking - who, by the way, definitely has nothing to say on the subject of the newly announced Spanish two boat Volvo Ocean Race team, at this stage at least - also regularly sails with the King of Spain on the TP 52 Bribonbut this week is having to slum it with commoners.

"Bouwe is my tactician here," says Richardson. "He did the Annapolis NOOD regatta with me in the Mumm 30 and he is doing the Europeans in Porto Cervo and then he goes to sail with the Prince. He sails with Kings and Princes and Queens."

From Capri Barking Mad heads north to Porto Cervo where there the Europeans are running over 6-9 June as part of the Rolex Settimana Della Bocche. Then the boat goes up to the Baltic for the Nordic Farr 40 Championship over 5-8 July in Hanko, Norway followed closely by Skaw Farr 40 Race Week in Skagen, Denmark,
Rolex Baltic Week in Neustadt, Germany, before the pre-Worlds and Worlds in Copenhagen - in short a pretty formidable two months of racing.

So how is he finding the commute from Boston? "So long as we are winning it is great," says Richardson. "I love sailing anywhere. I think it is fun to go race in new places and get to see different cultures, so it is pretty fun."

Richardson reckons that there could be around six boats coming across from the US for the Worlds. At present Jan Helmuth's Flash Gordon is also racing in Capri, but the likes of the Howe's Warpath and Deneen Demoukas' Groovederci are also expected to come across when the party moves up to the Baltic.

"We should have a big turn out for Copenhagen by the sounds of it," says Richardson of this year's World Championship. "We're expecting a similar number to last year, which was 38, so I think we could anywhere between 35 to 40 even 45 boats. It depends who shows up, but there are half a dozen boats in Norway, half a dozen boats in Denmark, there is a Finnish guy here racing who is doing quite well. There might be a couple of English boats coming out of the woodwork and then there’s the Italians, the French boat [ Twins] and there’s a new boat from the Ukraine. I think there might be five or six Australian boats as well."

This showing is impressive considering there are so many other alternatives now from TP52s and GP42s to Swan 45s, the New York YC's new one design Swan 42. "In some ways I think it is having a good impression on the Farr 40 class, because the TP 52s are so expensive to campaign. I think Farr 40s are still pretty good value for what you get. It’s great racing, the boats are well sailed, there are some great owners and great crews and we are all having fun still."

At this point Bekking cuts in about Richardson doing too much by way of PR for the class, still it is good to see one of our favourite one designs is still allegedly as popular as it ever was.

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