Long Beach, Calif. (May 17, 2014) - 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.
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. 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.
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.
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. 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.
“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.”
Leading brand of the Swiss watch industry, Rolex, headquartered in Geneva, enjoys an unrivalled reputation for quality and expertise the world over. Its OYSTER watches, all certified as chronometers for their precision, are symbols of excellence, performance and prestige. Pioneer in the development of the wristwatch as early as 1905, the brand is at the origin of numerous major watchmaking innovations, such as the OYSTER, the first waterproof wristwatch, launched in 1926, and the PERPETUAL rotor self-winding mechanism introduced in 1931. Rolex has registered over 400 patents in the course of its history. A truly integrated manufacturing company, Rolex designs, develops and produces in-house all the essential components of its watches, from the casting of the gold alloys to the machining, crafting, assembly and finishing of the movement, case, dial and bracelet. Rolex is also actively involved in supporting the arts, sports, the spirit of enterprise, and the environment through a broad palette of sponsoring activities as well as philanthropic and patronage programs.