20 November 2013

Brava (Farr One Tonner)

This article was intended to be about the Farr One Tonner Brava (photo left) following recent contact from her current owner. In researching her history, however, it became apparent that the boat was part of a distinguished lineage of yachts owned by Italian yachtsman Pasquale Landolfi, who was an enthusiastic campaigner on the international offshore racing circuit. And so this article attempts to provide an overview of all of the Brava's but with a focus on the One Tonner, one of Landolfi's most successful yachts.  

Landolfi began his Admiral’s Cup campaigns in 1981 with his first Brava, a 44-foot alloy yacht designed by Rome’s Andrea Vallicelli, which was the first Italian-designed yacht to contest the Cup since 1975 and had finished fourth in the 1980 Sardinia Cup. Italian sailors were at the time much emboldened by their third equal placing in the storm-tossed Admiral’s Cup of 1979, and were prepared to spend considerable sums on buying the best, and that included Californian skippers, with Tom Blackaller, straight from his SORC series aboard Louisiana Crude, signing on for Brava
Brava (left) struggles to finish in the first race of the 1981 Admiral's Cup
Unfortunately, however, Brava had a disappointing series in the seventh placed Italian team, with her series opening with a retirement after passing the wrong side of the finish mark unable to stem the tide to return. A protest in the third inshore race saw Brava finish further down the points ladder. 

With that experience behind him, Landolfi played a major role in Italy’s efforts in the 1983 series, when they finished second behind the all-conquering German team, and the original Brava, back for her second Admiral’s Cup, was one of the top boats finishing third equal. Skippered this time by US sailor Gary Weisman, her overall result was helped no end by a brilliant performance in the Fastnet Race, when she found a lane of breeze that she rode all the way from Land’s End to the Rock which she rounded in first place, a full four hours ahead of the 50 footer Bla Carat.
The original Brava seen more recently as Hero
Brava - the Vallicelli One Tonner racing in the 1985 Admiral's Cup

Despite their strong showing in 1983, the Italian team dropped heavily down the standings to 12th in the 1985 series, although Brava was the top boat in the Italian team, a new One Tonner again designed by Vallicelli. Landolfi did not make it into the Italian team for the Admiral’s Cup in 1987 or 1989, but commissioned a new One Tonner from Bruce Farr that year. The new boat, Design #223, was optimised for slightly stronger winds than other boats as a development of the success of Australian yacht Joint Venture III (Design #214), and designed to excel in all the important areas - upwind, downwind in heavy air and reaching in all conditions.  
The slippery shape of Brava, Bruce Farr's Design #223 - note the relatively smooth run aft and the hard point in the topsides at the rated beam measurement point
Landolfi’s new Brava went on to win the light airs-afflicted One Ton Cup in 1989, and placed second in 1991 behind US yacht Vibes (a further development of Brava). By this stage, Landolfi had become the top One Ton owner in Europe, supported by many of great yachting luminaries in her crew, such as Francesco de Angelis, her regular skipper, and Torben Grael. 
Brava returns to the dock after one of the inshore races during the 1991 Admiral's Cup (photo Shockwave40)
As part of their preparation for the 1991 Admiral’s Cup, the Italian team walked off with the 1990 Sardinia Cup, winning the series with a day to spare. This team effort was ably supported by Brava which finished second overall. The Italian’s had launched their boats nine months ahead of the Admiral’s Cup and their status as hot favourites looked more secure when team yacht Larouge won the Two Ton Cup in Kiel, and Brava was the runner-up in the One Ton Cup in Nieuwpoort in Belgium. 
Brava (left) leads the group of One Tonners in the 1991 Admiral's Cup - from left Corum Diamante (FRA), APAB (GER), Vibes (USA), Port Pendennis (GBR) and Zurich (DEN)
Brava at the dock during the 1991 Admiral's Cup (photo Shockwave40)
Brava during the 1989 One Ton Cup
The 1991 Admiral’s Cup was scored on the basis of three divisions, the 50 footers, Two Tonners and One Tonners. Brava finished top of the One Ton Cup division with consistently high placings, and Italy looked good to win the Cup going into the Fastnet Race finale. Landolfi added Rod Davis to the Brava crew, sensing the One Ton battle might be the tightest in the race and crucial to the final outcome. However, although Brava managed to beat Vibes overall, the Italian team lost out to an impressive display by the Corum-sponsored French team in the Fastnet race, who came back from fourth overall with better navigation and weather analysis in the Fastnet to win the series from Italy by just .62 points.

Landolfi sold Brava to a Russian owner and she competed in the 1990 One Ton Cup as Maestro. He commissioned a new Brava for the 1992 One Ton Cup (Brava Q8), which she won, and went on to race in the 1993 Admiral’s Cup, and as part of an immaculately prepared team packed full of talented sailors. Italy led the series from the second race, building up considerable momentum in the early and middle stages. This was despite problems for Brava Q8, including an entanglement with a start mark in the first race from which the crew mounted a remarkable recovery to finish second, and then a dismasting in the third race. 

Brava racing in Dublin Bay in the 1990s
 But the Italian team’s hopes all fell apart in the fifth race when their 50 footer Mandrake had a spectacular collision with the Dutch yacht Pro-motion that saw both boats nearly sink, and ruled them out of the rest of the regatta. Brava Q8 was skippered in the series by Paul Cayard, but de Angelis, sailing aboard Mandrake, was brought aboard for the rest of the series because it became obvious that they would need to drive the heart out of Brava Q8 if the now two-yacht team were to stand a chance. Unlikely as that sounds, in the 1993 series the Cup was based on the best of a team's two yachts, rather than all three, in order to allow two-boat teams to compete. However, further calamity arrived when Larouge lost her rig in the Fastnet race which ended any chance of Italian victory in the series, and dropped the team to fourth overall.
Brava Q8 - shortly after dropping her mast in the third race of the 1991 Admiral's Cup, and below, rounding a windward mark in the same series

Brava Q8 went on to win the One Ton Cup in 1993. After that, and following the demise of IOR and the One Ton Cup soon after, the Royal Ocean Racing Club adopted the IMS rule for the next Admiral’s Cup held in 1995, and used the ILC46, ILC40 and Mumm 36 classes for what was to be the last edition of this great regatta. Landolfi built a new ILC40 Brava Q8, and in 1995 Italy was at last victorious, winning the Admiral’s Cup with a strong come-from-behind performance in the Fastnet race, and Brava Q8 won the ILC40 division.
Brava Q8, the ILC40, in the thick of the action during the 1995 Admiral's Cup, with team-mate Mamma Mia (Mumm 36) to leeward
Brava Q8 rounding a leeward mark just behind US yacht Pigs in Space in the 1995 Admiral's Cup
Landolfi’s 1989 One Tonner was sold to an Irish syndicate sometime after the 1993 Admiral's Cup and One Ton Cup, and they continued to race her in the Solent. Brava was bought by her current owner in 2000, and when his family moved backed from Britain to Switzerland, Brava was relocated to Lake Constance where she is currently stationed in Romanshorn, registered as SUI-7880.  

Brava is still active on the local racing scene in Lake Constance and remains very competitive. Most recently, Brava won two major races in ORC1 such as the “Rund-Um” which is the most important race on Lake Constance, after finishing16th overall from over 350 competitors, including catamarans and the Libera Class A’s.  

Brava is maintained in impeccable condition as can be seen in the following photographs.

Brava after her most recent repaint, and still sporting her original keel and rudder configuration

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