Cruel swings of fate at Rolex Farr 40 North Americans

Published on May 16th, 2014

Long Beach, CA (May 16, 2014) – Mama said there’d be day like this, and the third day of the 2014 Rolex Farr 40 North Americans was one of those days. With the searing heat still bearing down on Southern California, the cool winds of the Pacific Ocean offered little relief with light winds, big shifts, and an interfering shipping tanker.

A brief postponement on the water allowed the wind strength to increase to a sailable 6 knots, and the southerly wind direction helped to form the Groovederci team’s game plan. “With the wind this far left in California, we identified it to be a day on the left,” noted tactician Cameron Appleton. “So were second boat from the pin, and were pleasantly surprised to be unchallenged at that end. John Demourkas did an excellent job getting us off the line, and our position with the fleet looked great right away.”

Between pressure and left shift, Groovederci rode a long port tack into the lead. “It was hard conditions, being so streaky, but John had us rolling,” explained Appleton. “From there, with the course getting a bit skewed through some big directional swings, the rich got richer.”

While the wind increased slightly during the race, it died down again at the finish. A postponement, which included moving the course for wind, set the stage for the next race… which would eventually get abandoned.

Starting at 3pm, with the wind hovering at 7 to 8 knots, Groovederci was among three early starters. But the Gods would soon be shining on Demourkas’ team. “After clearing and getting to the right of the fleet we got the shift and were launched,” explained Demourkas. “Between the shift and some pressure, we got out of jail pretty quickly.”

The left side would eventually recover, with Enfant Terrible and Plenty rounding the weather mark in front of Groovederci. The top three would remain in that order for the second beat, when a shipping tanker regrettably anchored on top of the weather mark, leading to the race abandonment. “We were thanking the lord on the first beat,” observed Demourkas. “He giveth, but then he taketh away.”

A protest between Struntje light and Enfant Terrible is pending at time of publication.

With dying breeze and fading patience, the race committee sent the fleet in. Racing concludes Saturday.

Day Four Results (7 races)
1. Struntje light, Wolfgang Schaefer , GER – 6, 2, 7, 1, 2, 3, 4; 25
2. Plenty, Alexander Roepers , USA – 2, 5, 1, 9, 1, 1, 9; 28
3. Flash Gordon 6, Helmut Jahn , USA – 4, 4, 4, 4, 7, 2, 3; 28
4. Groovederci, John Demourkas , USA – 8, 6, 6, 3, 5, 7, 1; 36
5. Nightshift, Kevin McNeil , USA – 7, 8, 2, 2, 4, 9, 5; 37
6. Enfant Terrible, Alberto Rossi , ITA – 1, 1, 10, 6, 3, 11, 6; 38
7. Dark Star, Jeff Janov , USA – 5, 3, 8, 5, 8, 4, 11; 44
8. Flojito y Cooperando, Minkow / Fernandez , MEX – 3, 16/ZFP, 3, 8, 9, 10, 2; 51
9. Blade 2, Michael Shlens , USA – 11, 9, 5, 10, 6, 17, 10; 68
10. JoAnn, Steve Murphy , USA – 13, 11, 14, 7, 14, 5, 13; 77
11. Skian Dhu, Dirk Freeland , USA – 10, 10, 12, 12, 16, 14, 7; 81
12. Foil, Gordon Leon , USA – 16, 13, 13, 13, 10, 8, 8; 81
13. Temptress, Ray Godwin , USA – 14, 7, 16, 11, 13, 6, 15; 82
14. Coquille, Gary Ezor , USA – 12, 16, 9, 15, 12, 13, 12; 89
15. White Knight, Zoltan Katinszky , USA – 9, 20/ZFP, 11, 14, 15, 12, 16; 97
16. Twisted, M. Tony Pohl , USA – 18, 14, 20/ZFP, 16, 11, 18, 18; 115
17. Huckleberry3, Jim Murrell , USA – 15, 17, 18, 19, 19, 16, 14; 118
18. Flyer, Stanford Shaw , USA – 19, 15, 15, 17, 18, 20/DNS, 17; 121
19. Viva La Vida, Will Durant , USA – 17, 20/RAF, 19, 18, 17, 15, 19; 125

Complete results:
Class website:

Report by event media…

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’sHelmut Jahn and his team on Flash Gordon 6, Germany’s Wolfgang Schaefer on Struntje light and Annapolis’ Kevin McNeil at the helm of Nightshift.

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.

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