Analyze the outcome of almost any major regatta, and the boat with the most consistent top finishes is almost always the victor. Certainly that was the case for John Calvert-Jones and his team from Sydney, Australia aboard Southern Star
as they prevailed over one of the toughest fleets ever assembled in mid-size keelboats, posting only one double-digit finish on their way to winning the third Farr 40 World Championship and taking home the World Cup trophy.
It only augments the victory to know that among their rivals,Calvert-Jones and his crew were contending with some of the most impressive resumes in the sport. The ranks of the America's Cup were well represented with the likes of Paul Cayard, Brad Butterworth, Tom Whidden, Terry Hutchinson, and Peter Holmberg serving as tacticians. And crewing talent abounded throughout the fleet, putting additional emphasis on the bragging rights that would accompany success in the regatta.
Calvert-Jones and his crew led going into the final two races of the competition on Friday with a six-point margin over defending World Champion John Kilroy and his team aboard Samba Pa Ti
. Besides Kilroy, there were other threats that stood between the Australian's and success, as there had been throughout the previous three days of the event. With the top five boats close enough in points for any one of them to win overall, it was evident that the final day's action at the Worlds would be high drama.
The first race on that day (Race Eight of the regatta) saw a classic smoky sou'wester roll in with 15 to 18-knots of breeze. Once again the committee set an eight-mile, windward-leeward course off Brenton Reef. Calvert-Jones managed to stay ahead of Kilroy, but they were both deep in the 27-boat pack early in the race. By working the shifts and the few available lanes of clear breeze, Calvert-Jones and tactician Grant Simmer did an amazing job of picking their way through the pack to climb back into third at the finish. They crossed the line just behind fellow Aussie Marcus Blackmore on Emotional Hooligan and race winner Alexi Michas' Phish Food, and only moments ahead of Samba Pa Ti.
The outcome of that penultimate race set the stage for an intriguing finale. Now Samba
lurked only seven points behind Calvert-Jones. It was evident that the competitive parity at this event had ramped up to a fierce level, and any small mistake would bring punishing consequences. "If you're not off the start line
, you're dead," said Calvert-Jones later. With the wind backing off to 14 knots, the southwest oscillations were sure to keep the tacticians busy. Once again, Simmer, working with local racer Pater Stalkus, picked the correct side, and Southern Star
rounded the top mark third behind Phillippe Kahn's Orion
and 1998 World Champion Jim Richardson aboard Barking Mad
, with Samba
three places back.
Throughout the remainder of the race, Southern Star sailed not just to cover Samba, but to try and hold its position in the highly competitive fleet. Only Richard Marki's Raging Bull made gains on the final run to finish behind Orion in second, but a fourth place by Southern Star was more than good enough to win the World Cup.
An ecstatic Calvert-Jones credited the race managers, the event organizers and sponsors, and his team. "This regatta was very tough, as we have more boats and more competition than ever before. Our team was fantastic, and Grant did a superb job of getting us around the course."
Joining Calvert-Jones and Simmer on board Southern Star were Australians Adam Beashel, Mark Walsh, Carston Schon, Glenn Attrill, Richard Cameron, Glen Ferguson, and Americans Rebecca Pancera and Peter Stalkus. Their collective victory marked a milestone for this owner-driver class as it was the first time someone other than an American had won the World Championship. That's good news for Farr International (the boat's marketer) and Carroll Marine (the boat's US builder) as it reinforces their success in achieving critical mass as a legitimately international class. For comprehensive scores, log on to www.farr40.org.