|" I couldn't think of a better place to be in January "|
Key West Race Week: A “Bucket List" Event
(December 2011) Farr 30 class president Deneen Demourkas is a seasoned Key West veteran. We caught up with Deneen shortly after her victory on Groovederci at the 2011 Farr 30 World Championship to learn more about her involvement with Key West.
Q: Tell us about the participation of the Farr 30 Class at Key West Race Week. The Farr 30 Class has a long history at Key West Race Week. Over the years we have witnessed the numbers rise, then fall, only to rise again. Brad Kauffman, our Chesapeake fleet captain, has led the charge the last couple of years. He has been in constant contact the entire fleet, encouraging teams to get in gear and get to Key West. It's that kind of enthusiasm we find in the fleet today, and it’s quite refreshing. After an absence in 2009, we regrouped and the fleet committed to Key West indefinitely. In 2010 we had 9 teams, one of which made the trip from Sweden. The racing was fantastic, the camaraderie even better. We definitely have a good time together both on and off the water. We had a fantastic Farr 30 party with everyone in attendance, including PRO Ken Legler. There was another great dinner hosted by John & Linda Edwards (Rhumb Punch) and, of course, the nightly prize giveaways. It's all about good friends, good competition, and good times.
Q: Number of Key West Weeks in which you've participated? My husband and I have attended every year since 2001 for a grand total of 10 years running!
Demourkas' Groovederci USA 706
Q: Are there any particular races/years that stand out in your memory ? What happened ? There are a few! The first that comes to mind is our first year in Key West (2001), sailing the Farr 40 with John Kolius calling tactics for us. The weather was stunning – I wore a sarong at the helm. Poor John stood behind me and my skirt slapped him in the face for five days straight; he was such a gentleman. Winning the Mumm 30 North Americans in 2004 with Hamish Pepper is another standout for me. I had seriously injured my shoulder during a practice session the day before and wasn't sure I could sail. The first day of racing was canceled for our class and that was exactly what the doctor ordered. We finished the week with a strong win. There was also the "all star" mudslide fight that included Bouwe Bekking, Ross Macdonald, and Dee Smith at the Tiki Bar. I don't think Ross has ever forgiven me for introducing him to mudslides.
Q: What draws you to Key West Race Week ? The competition, the weather, the wind, the water, and the fishing! The internationally charged competition is always at the highest level. The race management does an exceptional job. When you combine that with the competition, you have an excellent event. There is also the location. Even coming from California, I couldn't think of a better place to be in January. It's a beautiful spot. The water is so alive with fish, rays, and dolphins. It’s hard to stay focused and not look at all these amazing creatures going past your boat. The history in and around Key West is fascinating, too. The Truman "little White House", the Dry Tortugas National Park – you have to give yourself a couple of extra days to take it all in. Whatever the reason, it's a "bucket list" event.
Q: What advice or insight can you offer to someone who may be fairly new at this ? Plan early. It will make your life easier when you arrive. I've found that renting a condo or a house and having someone cook for the team is very economical. Even having the team members cook on different nights works. The event website is a great source of information, so be sure to check it out. Peter Craig and Premiere Racing are also very knowledgeable and helpful, so don't hesitate to contact them with questions.
Q: What is the most exciting race you've ever witnessed at Key West ? I can't remember what year it was, but I was sailing the 30 and it was blowing dogs off chains. We were on our final run and the wind was over 35 knots steady. We were blazing down the run, hitting 22 knots of boat speed at one point. I'll never forget going past a Swan 45 heading upwind on the same course and the entire crew letting out a huge cheer from the rail as we went flying past! There was talk of the necessity for a jibe, but the wind was relentless. All three lead boats simultaneously dropped their kites and raced for the finish line! That was pretty exciting.
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