Windy City Lives up to Nickname

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    The southwest wind delivered as predicted, building over the course of the day as the clouds receded and temperatures rebounded by almost 30 degrees from their overnight low, an 18-20 knot breeze — gusting to 32 — propelled the 20-strong fleet on a 6.6 nautical mile course for the first race of the day. Germany’s Wolfgang Schaefer, on Struntje light, was first across the finish to win his third race of the championship, followed by four American teams: PLENTY, Groovederci, Heartbreaker and Flash Gordon 6.

    “We had a great day today,” said Peter Holmberg, Schaefer’s tactician on Struntje light. “We set our strategy to get off the start clean and we picked the side we liked and it was a good choice. In the first race we got around in front and held our spot. Second race same plan, and it went very well. We finished second in that race. Yesterday was quite windy and today one step windier. We did a nice job on the boat, making our strategy…that was probably the most important and getting off the line clean. And our owner did a great job driving the boat. [Planning] for tomorrow, we’ll go out early and see what the pattern of the wind is and try to make some good decisions. But getting off the line clean is the most important thing.”

    In the second race, with the breeze up to 20-35 knots, the win went to defending champion Guido Belgiorno-Nettis on Transfusion. As Holmberg mentioned, Struntje light finished second, while Flash Gordon 6, Enfant Terrible (ITA) and Kokomo (AUS) finished third through fifth. The breeze piping up on the last run made race two the final race of the day.

    With results of 5-3 added to his score line, Helmut Jahn retains his lead of the overall standings with 28 points even as he increased – by one point – his advantage over defending champion Guido Belgiorno-Nettis who has 38. With only three points separating the teams in third to sixth place, there remains the possibility of an upset on the final day of the championship: Wolfgang Schaefer is third with 46 points on Struntje light; Alberto Rossi, on Enfant Terrible, is fourth with 47 points, while American sailors John Demourkas on Groovederci and Alexander Roepers on PLENTY, are fifth and sixth with 48 and 49 points respectively.

    “We’ve been able to find a little bit of speed, and trying to use that to our advantage as much as possible,” said Bill Hardesty, who is marking his fifth world championship on Flash Gordon 6 as tactician for current standings leader Helmut Jahn. “Starting as conservatively as possible and trying to leg out…and in the first race we were able to do that. We picked our time to tack and crossed the fleet and just played a couple of wind shifts and rounded second. Had a little bit of a spinnaker pole breakdown on the final run and dropped to fifth, but that’s a keeper. The last race we didn’t quite have the great start; we had a little bit of a tangle with another boat in the last 30 seconds and weren’t able to cross anyone. We actually tacked and ducked about five boats, but we were still able to use our speed which gets me to positions where I can use the wind shifts to make good tactical calls. The guys are doing great job boat handling and the boat is moving fast.”

    “We’re big on routine, so we will just stick to our routine,” said Hardesty of the plan for the final day of the championship. “We ride our bikes back and forth, go home, eat dinner, get to bed at 9:30 and wake up at 7:00. We have Evan [Jahn] driving the starts and the first beats, Helmut drives downwind and in either direction they’re both doing a fantastic job. But you never know what will happen so you just have to be nimble and see what comes your way.”

    Today, September 19, was Chicago Yacht Club Race Day. Check out today’s video highlight at . Racing will start at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, September 20, 2012, with three races planned for the final day of the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship.

    2012 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship
    Top-Five Results (20 boats)

    Place, Yacht Name, Owner/Skipper, Hometown, Results; Total Points

    1. Flash Gordon 6, Helmut Jahn, Chicago, Ill., USA, 2-6-3-6-3-5-3; 28

    2. Transfusion, Guido Belgiorno-Nettis, Sydney, NSW, AUS, 1-4-8-12/ZFP-4-8-1; 38

    3. Struntje light, Wolfgang Schaefer, Lueneburg, GER, 18-1-1-21/ZFP-2-1-2; 46

    4. Enfant Terrible, Alberto Rossi, Ancona, ITA, 3-3-4-3-19-11-4; 47

    5. Groovederci, John Demourkas, Santa Barbara, Calif., USA, 5-7-15-9-1-3-7; 48