Show goes on for Race Week at Newport
Published on September 17th, 2020
A new boat and a new rating rule, and the strangest summer in recent memory would have most people ready to press the eject button and look ahead to 2021. But Mark Sertl sees opportunity, both for his Farr 30 Das Blau Max and sailing in general.
Looking toward Race Week at Newport presented by Rolex on September 23-26, hosted by the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court, Mark and his wife Cory, the current president of US Sailing, will be racing the successful Bruce Farr one-design in the ORC division in Newport, RI.
“What I like about ORC is the Club is adopting triple-number scoring, where you basically have a light-, medium-, and heavy-air rating, and you have a slightly different rating whether the course is windward-leeward or coastal,” says Mark Sertl.
“I’m willing to take my chances with ORC. I don’t have much experience with it, but intuitively, it makes sense compared to giving a boat a single rating for all conditions, as some rules do.”
The Sertls bought their Farr 30 last spring with an eye toward the 2020 ORC/IRC World Championships, which were originally scheduled for late September at the New York Yacht Club before the COVID-19 disease forced the cancellation of the event.
It wasn’t the perfect boat for that championship—perhaps a little quick for its size—but there was a more important factor in the decision.
“Having sailed the Melges IC37 last year with the kids [son, Nick, and daughter Katja],” says Mark Sertl, “I figured if I bought a racer/cruiser, they wouldn’t want to sail with us.”
With all the major summer events canceled or postponed, the Sertls focused on smaller, local events, mostly around government marks. Planned modifications were shelved, and they embraced more elemental challenges like learning the intricacies of the boat’s asymmetric spinnaker arrangement, which was added once the Farr 30 class stopped holding one-design regattas a few years ago.
“All of our history has been with symmetric-spinnaker boats, between the kids and Cory and I,” says Mark Sertl. “That’s where we have a lot of learning going on. We still have the symmetrical set up on the boat, so we can switch back and forth. It’s interesting how that works in reality versus what the polars say. That’s where we’ve been experimenting.”
Das Blau Max is one of just three boats less than 40 feet in length competing in the ORC class, which has boats at large as 72 feet, though the ORC group will most likely be split into two classes. As a smaller, lighter boat, Das Blau Max is likely to be slower upwind than the competition, and faster downwind.
“The hardest part [of being a smaller boat] is the start,” he says. “There’s lots of different strategies, but what we always come back to is we just want to get the best start we can and take it from there. Every time we try to be cute and try to predict how other boats are going to act or react, it usually works out worse than if we just do our best and deal with it later.”
The biennial regatta will take place on Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound.