Saturday, 17 May 2014

Farr 40 : Murphy's Law on Day Three of the Rolex North Americans

John Demourkas’ Groovederci (bow 09) leads the fleet around the course. Image copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster 

by Jan Harley

It was feast or famine for the third day of the 2014 Rolex Farr 40 North American Championship being hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club.  The schedule for the day was to sail three races, but all did not go according to plan.  A weak onshore breeze postponed the start of the first race of the day and with the 19-strong fleet anxious to get sailing, once the wind speed reached four to five knots the sequence for the first race was underway. 

Leading through the gate was Santa Barbara’s John Demourkas on Groovederci.  He would continue to lead the fleet around the course to take his first win of the series in breeze that he characterized as “nudging a degree at a time.”
“We went to the pin end and luckily found a lot of real estate there to have a nice start,” said Demourkas about the win. “We got out clean and just stuck with it on the left [side of the course] and it held the whole time. That was really the key.” Demourkas is used to sailing in light air, which they get a lot of in Santa Barbara, but considers his team an all-weather boat. “I like the bigger breeze; it’s certainly more fun and less nerve wracking. Luckily that lefty held out for both legs.”

Following Groovederci through both the gate and across the finish line were Bernardo Minkow and Julian Fernandez on the Mexican-flagged Flojito y Cooperando, Chicago’s Helmut Jahn and his team on Flash Gordon 6, Germany’s Wolfgang Schaefer on Struntje light and Annapolis’ Kevin McNeil at the helm of Nightshift.
Wolfgang Schaefer’s Struntje light (bow 15) is the overall leader heading into the final day of the series. Image copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster  

The second race got underway after a change in wind direction precipitated another delay, and, subsequently was abandoned after the boats had gone through the gate and were on their way to the top mark when movement by a tanker encroached on the race course.  The announcement of the abandonment was met by cheers from some teams and groans from others.  For the teams caught at the back of the fleet it was their hoped for “Hail Mary.”

Demourkas was in third place with Groovederci when the call to abandon race two was made.  “It was kind of a bit of a heartbreak after the drama and strain of being over early, clearing the line and then finding yourself on the correct shift and then having it all look well with the rest of the fleet.

With seven races in the books, there has been a change at the top of the overall standings with Schaefer’s fourth-place finish taking him from two points behind Alex Roepers on PLENTY, to three points ahead with 25 points.  Roepers finished ninth in today’s race and is tied, on 28 points, with Helmut Jahn.  Demourkas’ win of the day’s race moved him into fourth overall with 36 points, followed by McNeil with 37 points, and 2013 Rolex Farr 40 World Champion Alberto Rossi on the Italian-flagged Enfant Terrible with 38 points.

Action at the Rolex Farr 40 North Americans continues Friday, May 16, and concludes Saturday, May 17, from Long Beach Yacht Club.