Sunday, 18 May 2014

Farr 40 : Alex Ropers and PLENTY Win Rolex Farr 40 North American Championships

PLENTY wins the Rolex Farr 40 North American Championships 2014. Image copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster

by Jan Harley

Determining the 2014 Rolex North American Champion came down to the 10th and final race of the series that was held over four days (May 14-17) from Long Beach Yacht Club, as conditions rebounded to allow the race committee to run three races on the last day of the regatta.

Bowman calls the start. Image copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster

With an earlier start time, the fleet sailed into the offshore haze which gave way to patches of blue sky as the first race got underway at 1115 in a seven-and-a-half knot southwesterly breeze with puffs registering between 10 and 11 knots.  

Farr 40 fleet heads downwind. Image copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster

Chicago’s Helmut Jahn, the 2012 Farr 40 World Champion on Flash Gordon 6, was leading the fleet through the bottom gate followed by Ray Godwin’s Temptress, Wolfgang Schaefer’s Struntje light, Gary Ezor’s Coquille and Alex Roepers’ PLENTY.  Jahn, who had come into the final day of the series tied for second in the overall standings, went on to win the race, his first of the series, and took the overall lead with 29 points.  Roepers on PLENTY, finished third for 31 points, while Shaefer finished eighth on Struntje light to drop in the standings on 33 points. 

Close mark rounding. Image copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster

In race two, the 19-strong fleet was split fairly evenly in picking which side of the course to take coming out of the gate.  PLENTY led the fleet around the course and took her fourth win of the series to move back to the top of the leaderboard with 32 points.  Jahn finished fourth to drop to second overall with 33 points, followed in the standings by John Demourkas’ Groovederci with 42 points, after a second-place finish, and Schaefer’s Struntje light with 44 points after finishing the race back in 11th place.  

The fleet is tightly bunched downwind. Image copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster.

With the only one point separating Roepers and Jahn, the final race of the series was started with boats jockeying for position in the nine-and-a-half knot breeze.  Demourkas and Schaefer, who were third and fourth, respectively, in the overall standings, were both over early putting an end to any hopes they had for a championship title.  That left Roepers and Jahn to fight the final battle and when Roepers took his fifth win of the series, he clinched his first major class title.  Jahn, finishing second, took second overall just two points back with 35 points.  Demourkas came back from the over early to place eighth in the race and take the last spot on the podium with 50 points.  

PLENTY heads downwind. Image copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster

Italy’s Alberto Rossi on Enfant Terrible was fourth overall with 55 points, followed by Annapolis’ Kevin McNeil on Nightshift with 59.  Struntje light was unable to recover from the over early and finished the series sixth overall at 63 points.

Alex Ropers and the crew of PLENTY celebrate their victory in the Championships. Image copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster

“We’re joking now that all this releasing and tightening of the backstay may have not been necessary for all these years because we did just fine with the backstay in one position for the whole race,” said Alex Roepers in reference to the hydraulic failure on PLENTY that took place on the way to the race course this morning.  “In one word it feels fantastic to be the North American champion.  It’s been a long haul for me.  I started in the class in 2007 and this is the first major win for team PLENTY.  To finally put it together to win this event is fantastic.”

Helmut Jahn’s Flash Gordon 6 (bow 04) leads the fleet on the final day of the series. Image copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster

Additional information on the 2014 Rolex Farr 40 North American Championship, including daily race reports, full results and photos can be found online at