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Aberdeen Asset Management Farr 40 Tasmanian State Title: Farr 40 Derwent derby begins - Start
Eight Farr 40 crews weathered a testing day one of their state title on Hobart’s Derwent River and tonight Guido Belgiorno-Nettis’ Transfusion is the clubhouse leader after three races.

Competition at the Aberdeen Asset Management Farr 40 Tasmanian State Title began in a reasonable 15 knot breeze out of the south on a mid-river course in the vicinity of John Garrow Light off Lower Sandy Bay.

For race two the building SE-S breeze collided with the river current resulting in a deteriorating sea state and showing up a wide range of boat handling ability.

The wind dial again spun clockwise for race three causing some spectacularly out of control knock-downs.

Where others came unstuck the season’s pointscore leader Transfusion made easy work of the chop and rain squalls to take two wins straight up.

Race three brought gusts over 25 knots and a bad gybe for Belgiorno-Nettis and his crew, including Olympic gold medallist tactician Tom Slingsby, which took them out of the game though they managed to recover from sixth in the fleet to finish third.

On today’s conditions Belgiorno-Nettis said, “We had some big squalls…some nasty weather. We had it all. If you didn’t like the weather you only had to wait five minutes.

“There were a lot of wipe-outs for at least half the fleet. We were fine and pretty comfortable. Our crew mechanics were great. Once we got in front we were able to keep the gap, in races one and two at least.”

Martin and Lisa Hill’s Estate Master returned strongly to competition post-op. Sporting new livery and trialling minor modifications that have kept the Sydney Farr 40 out of the rest of the season Estate Master finished three points behind Transfusion in second place overall.

Half of the state title fleet is sailing for Tasmania and host club, the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania. The first Tassie Farr 40 and final podium place at the half-way point belongs to Stephen Boyes’ Wired.

There’s was an incident free day until gear damage cost them heavily in race three. “There were no major problems, we had excellent courses today and notched up a couple of seconds then unfortunately our headsail pre-feeder jammed up and we started the third race without a headsail,” recalled Boyes.

“It slowed us down and the fleet was able to get far away from us. Despite that we had good boat speed and handled the conditions pretty well.”

On the physicality of racing in today’s strong breezes and bumpy chop Boyes added, “The crew has got longer arms and will definitely sleep well tonight”.

Local International Race Officer Nick Hutton is in charge of the race management team as Principal Race Officer, his first time running a Farr 40 event.

“I’m finding it most interesting,” said Hutton. “It’s spectacular watching the top boats. It’s a credit how good they are in quite difficult conditions.

“It was a mixed bag today, a good rain storm when visibility was compromised, overcast conditions then brilliant sunshine and temperatures in the low 20s. I reckon there will be a few bruises tonight,” he figured.

Four races were scheduled but with the breeze consistently over the class’ upper wind limit of 25 knots by the end of race three Hutton and Australian class president Belgiorno-Nettis agreed to call it a day.

Tomorrow’s forecast is for light and variable winds which could mean a slow start before the south-east sea breeze fills in after lunch and what’s left of the state title’s remaining races are run and won.

“Hopefully we’ll get some action in the afternoon and finish with a flourish,” said Boyes, the local skipper who knows the river well.

Tonight crews and class sponsor Aberdeen Asset Management enjoyed a dock party and BBQ at the RYCT. A social get together after racing is a feature of the Australian Farr 40 series that has fostered good comradeship between the sailors and representatives from the global investment management group, now in their second year of sponsorship.

The Tasmanian state title wraps up tomorrow and on Wednesday February 19th the season finale, the John Calvert-Jones Trophy Nationals commences with four days of short course racing to name the 2013-14 Australian Farr 40 champion.

Photo : Dane Lojek
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