Long Beach, Calif.  Saturday, Sunday, Monday  May 28-30 

Hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club and Gladstone’s Restaurant at Rainbow Harbor

Dark Star prevails but Piranha fights to end

by Rich Roberts 

A lively climax to the 2011 Rolex Farr 40 North American Championship Sunday left Dark Star and Piranha something in the pot to stir up the next time they meet.

Dark Star owner/driver Jeff Janov from Malibu prevailed this time in a rout, winning six of eight races over the three-day Memorial Day weekend, including all three Monday, to collect a Rolex Submariner wristwatch engraved with the Farr 40 logo on the back.

Meanwhile, Dave Voss, the West Coast class president whose Piranha dominated the fleet until Dark Star emerged last year, has a load of motivation after placing fourth overall without winning a race.

Voss’s Piranha team, trailing Dark Star by 13 points, was reasonably out of contention after Sunday’s spinnaker catastrophes, so Monday, when the racing moved inside the harbor, they turned the last two races into match racing.

Powered by a brisk southwest breeze reaching 14 knots, Piranha dogged Dark Star until the very end. The pair came down to the finish virtually boat for boat until Piranha suddenly doused its familiar spinnaker to do a penalty turn as Dark Star crossed the line.

Farther up the course on the last downwind leg the on-water judges had watched the jibing duel closely until suggesting with a whistle that while Dark Star had the right of way, Piranha was sailing above its proper course. Dark Star protested, and that was that.

Janov suggested that the aggressive sailing “was the two tacticians doing their thing”—referring world class pros Eric Doyle on Piranha and Morgan Larson looking over his shoulder on Dark Star.

Piranha crew member Chad Hough expressed Piranha’s disappointment: “We just wanted to win the last race and finish on a high note for the team.”

Not this time.

Janov said, “We had amazing competition [against] some great sailors.”

But Dark Star consistently started well, with one exception, and had the best speed, upwind and downwind.

The one bad start was instigated by Frederic Scheer’s Far Niente out of Hermosa Beach, which slammed the door on Dark Star at the race committee boat on Day 1, leading to a fifth-place finish.

Ironically, Far Niente finished only eighth in that race but closed strong by winning the next race with no other finishes worse than fourth to squeeze second place overall from Dirk Freeland’s Skian Dhu from Santa Barbara by one point, 14 behind Dark Star and four ahead of Piranha.

“We were working very hard to get there,” Scheer said. “I’m very happy.”

One of his crew was Ethan Michaelis, 13, from Alamitos Bay Yacht Club in Long Beach. Nine boats took on local junior sailors from Long Beach YC and ABYC on the last day, which made Michaelis’ weekend.

“I won the Sabot B [class] in ABYC’s Memorial Day Regatta Sunday,” he said.

Another Far Niente crew member, Merry Cheers (that’s her real name), said, “He had suggestions about the tactics.”

Maybe there’s another Larson or Doyle coming on.

Complete standings 

The Farr 40 Class maintains an extensive international schedule that revolves around regional fleets in the U.S., Australia, Southern Europe and the Nordic region, with the annual Rolex Farr 40 World Championship serving as the class’s “crown jewel” of competition.

In addition to Rolex as title sponsor, the 2011 Rolex Farr 40 North American Championship includes as supporting sponsors Gladstone’s Restaurant, bioplastics manufacturer Cereplast, Inc., Hyatt Regency Long Beach and The City of Long Beach Department of Parks, Recreation & Marine.