Two of the longest-tenured and most popular owners in the Farr 40 class enjoyed tremendous success on the water during the second day of the Rolex Big Boat Series and made significant moves in the standings as a result.
Santa Barbara skipper John Demourkas and his crew aboard Groovederci jumped from fourth to second in the overall standings with a pair of runner-up finishes on Friday. Meanwhile, German owner Wolfgang Schaefer rebounded from a tough opening day to win Race 3 and place third in Race 4 and make a dramatic move into fifth overall.
New York skipper Alex Roepers and his team on Plenty continued to set the pace - taking third in the first race and winning the second on Friday to extend their lead to six points. Plenty has displayed superb boat speed in post a strong score line of 2-1-3-1 for a low score of seven points, six better than Groovederci.
"We are very happy with our performance today. We seem to constantly have a slight edge in speed on the upwind legs. We have made gains every time on the beats," Roepers said.
Race 4 began on Berkeley Circle then featured a beat to a mark off Crissy Field, a run to just north of Alcatraz Island, another beat along the city front to Crissy Field then a close reach sprint to the finish line off host St. Francis Yacht Club.
Tactician Terry Hutchinson made the correct call to leave Alcatraz to starboard on the run and that enabled Plenty to pass Groovederci and Nightshift, both of which chose a port rounding.
"Terry called for a quick jibe that got us out into more current and more breeze. It was a bit risky to take the starboard route, but it paid off beautifully. We made up a lot of ground," Roepers said.
It was another wild day on San Francisco Bay with winds holding steady between 16 and 18 knots with gusts up to 22. Race 3 was a five-leg, windward-leeward on Berkeley Circle and Schaefer and the Struntje Light team sailed beautifully in getting the gun. Tactician Ray Davies is quite familiar with this venue and his decision to go right on the first beat paid off handsomely.
Schaefer showed great touch on the tiller as Struntje Light took the lead for good on the downwind leg then made no mistakes the rest of the way in holding off Groovederci and Plenty.
"Yesterday was just terrible so it was very uplifting to come out today and win the first race. My crew did a wonderful job," Schaefer said.
Schaefer has been absent from the Farr 40 circuit since the California Cup, held June 18-21 out of Marina del Rey. Just prior to the West Coast Championship in Santa Barbara, the Lueneburg resident was injured in a fall and spent considerable time in intensive care.
"I am back sailing against the advice of my doctor because I do not want to miss the worlds and I needed this regatta as a test to see if I can do this," Schaefer said. "It is great to be back because this class is a very important part of my sailing life."
Schaefer said general rustiness after such a long layoff along with poor visibility contributed to a rough opening day in which Struntje Light posted results of 11th and ninth in the 15-boat fleet. The class veteran was on top of his game on Friday and is now very much in contention.
One of the few Farr 40 owners that have been in the class as long as Schaefer is Demourkas, who had Groovederci going well all afternoon in notching the pair of seconds. Tactician Cameron Appleton made some wise calls and the crew work was spot on as the Santa Barbara boat overtook Nightshift in the standings and built a seven-point cushion on its closest pursuer.
"It was good day for sure. Cam had us going the right way and the crew really worked hard. We did an awful lot of tacking up the city front and that takes a lot of energy," Demourkas said. "We're trying to keep up with Plenty, which is a real challenge. We sailed well today, but we need to keep it going. As you know, consistency is the name of the game."
Voodoo Chile, owned by Andrew Hunn of Tasmania, had a second straight solid outing and moved from fifth to fourth in the overall standings. Voodoo Chile, a Corinthian entry that has enjoyed tremendous success on the Australian circuit, is just one point ahead of Struntje Light.
Everyone involved with the Farr 40 class took to the water on Friday with a heavy heart after learning of the sudden passing of Bernardo Minkow, co-owner of Flojito y Cooperando. Class manager Geoff Stagg, secretary Tink Chambers and all the other owners wish to express their sincere condolences to the Minkow family as well as the entire Flojito crew. Co-owner Julian Fernandez elected not to race on Friday out of respect for the memory of his close friend. However, the Flojito team will race on Saturday in honor of Bernardo.
The Farr 40 class would like to thank North Sails Graphics for its support with this regatta.