John Demourkas has raced his Farr 40 all over the United States – from Newport to Key West on the East Coast, from Long Beach to San Francisco on the West Coast to Chicago in the Midwest. Demourkas has also competed all over the world in such countries as Australia, Denmark, Dominican Republic and Italy.
Having visited dozens of different venues since joining the class eight years ago, Demourkas is thrilled to get the chance to compete out of his home port of Santa Barbara.
"It's certainly going to be a special experience to do a Farr 40 regatta on the waters that I am so familiar with," said Demourkas, a longtime member of host Santa Barbara Yacht Club. "I know the club is very excited to be hosting the Farr 40 class for the first time. We are going to put our best foot forward to show the owners and crews some southern California hospitality."
A strong fleet of 15 boats is entered in the Farr 40 West Coast Championship, being held July 16-19. An influx of Australian entries will add spice to the fourth stop on the International Circuit, which culminates with the Rolex Big Boat Series off San Francisco in early September.
Coming from all the way Down Under to prepare for 2014 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship are Estate Master, Kokomo and Voodoo Chile. A fourth Aussie entry, Transfusion, will join the fray for worlds, being held Oct. 15-18 out of St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco.
Sydney residents Martin and Lisa Hill have enjoyed tremendous success aboard Estate Master since joining the Farr 40 class in 2006, capturing two Australian Circuit championships and two International Circuit regattas – the 2010 Pre-Worlds and 2011 Sydney International Regatta.
The Hills, who most recently captured the Tasmania State title and finished third at Australian Nationals, are returning to the Farr 40 International Circuit for the first time since 2011.
"Team Estate Master is excited to get back on the International Circuit, and what a great place to start – sunny Santa Barbara," Martin Hill said. "As my pit girl and wife puts it: We're pumped. We know the competition will be tough and we have no illusions that we need to put in some time on the water in order to be race ready."
Veteran professional Hamish Pepper will serve as tactician aboard Estate Master, which has competed in four Rolex Farr 40 World Championships – placing fourth in the Dominican Republic in 2010 and fifth in Sydney the following year. Pepper has enjoyed success in the Farr 40 class before, having served as tactician aboard Evolution when owner Richard Perini captured the 2005 world championship off Sydney. Andrew "Dog" Palfrey will be providing coaching in Santa Barbara and San Francisco in order to get the Estate Master team up to speed in time for worlds.
"Essentially, our goals are to get back on the water and improve our rankings. Our focus is always on skill development and not the results," Hill said. "I just love that feeling of casting off the dock lines and heading out for a day of sailing, whether that be a training session with Dog or a regatta day when the storm clouds are threatening. I just love the water, the wind and being with the team."
Kokomo, owned by Sydney resident Lang Walker with Olympic gold medalist Malcolm Page aboard as tactician, returned to the Farr 40 International Circuit by competing at the 2012 Rolex Worlds in Chicago and finishing ninth.
Voodoo Chile, owned by Tasmania resident Lloyd Clark, had a strong 2013-2014 season on the Australian Circuit – claiming the Queensland State crown in October and the One Design Trophy in December.
Consecutive victories at the Rolex Farr 40 North American Championship and the California Cup have given skipper Alex Roepers and the Plenty team a comfortable 35-point lead in the 2014 International Circuit standings. Roepers must miss the West Coast Championship due to business commitments, but will try to sew up the circuit title at the Rolex Big Boat Series.
That gives Enfant Terrible, the Italian entry owned by Alberto Rossi, a chance to cut into the lead next week. Enfant Terrible captured the Midwinter Championship off Long Beach and has amassed 138 points through three events, one better than third place Flash Gordon 6 (Helmut Jahn, Chicago).
Meanwhile, owner Ray Godwin and the Temptress team are the circuit leaders among Corinthian entries. Temptress placed second in Corinthian Division at both North Americans and California Cup and 372 points, nine better than Gordon Leon and his crew on Foil.
"We're somewhat amazed to be in first and know it will be difficult to hold on till the end," said Godwin, a Huntington Beach resident who owns United Flight Accessories of California. "There are some real strong Corinthian teams on the circuit. Whoever wins will have really accomplished something."
Godwin sails with zero professionals aboard Temptress, which he has owned since 2007. Tactician Randy Smith is in real estate while other key crew members such as trimmers Mark van Gessel (jib), Stacy Straw (spinnaker) and Bob Zellner (main) also hold full-time jobs.
Godwin, who previously owned a Santana 35 and Schock 35, has learned quite a bit during his first foray on the International Circuit. "It has really been quite eye-opening. It's amazing to see the speed some of these boats have developed. We are watching the top boats very carefully and asking a lot of questions in order to pick up tips that could help us improve."
John Demourkas was introduced to Farr 40 racing as crew for his wife and was there when Deneen steered Groovederci to third place at the 2002 World Championships in Nassau. John bought his own Farr 40 after retiring from business and earned his first class victory at the 2013 East Coast Championship out of Annapolis.
Cameron Appleton, a New Zealand native now living in Newport, R.I., is the longtime tactician for Demourkas on Groovederci, which is currently fifth in the International Circuit standings.
"Our consistency just hasn't been there so far this season. We'll have a good race then follow it with a bad one," Demourkas said. "I'll have my worlds crew for the first time next week and hopefully that will help us put all the ingredients together."
Demourkas also owns a J/105 that he sails in the Wednesday Night Series out of Santa Barbara Yacht Club and in weekends regattas on occasion. Santa Barbara is one of the few California coastal towns that faces south and has an East-West mountain range. Demourkas said that unique configuration "creates a slightly different type of breeze." Westerly winds predominate and the afternoon sea breeze is fairly consistent, he said.
Principal race officer Peter Reggio will be assisted by the Santa Barbara Yacht Club race committee that is chaired by Brad Schaupeter. They plan to set the race course in deeper water than normal in order to minimize some of the local affects.
"Hopefully, that will prevent the righty from being so dominant and also eliminate the current relief that can be found closer toward shore, which will result in racing that is more fair," Demourkas said.
The Farr 40 class will be missing one of its most loyal, dedicated competitors in Santa Barbara as Struntje Light was forced to withdraw from the West Coast Championship after owner Wolfgang Schaefer suffered a fall that caused two skull fractures. Schaefer spoke with class manager Geoff Stagg upon returning from the hospital and was in good spirits, stating that he and wife Angela look forward to rejoining the circuit for the Rolex Big Boat Series.
The Farr 40 class would like to thank North Sails Graphics, the official graphics supplier for the West Coast Championship.