Racing with family can be an extremely rewarding experience. Racing against family can also be rewarding. Sometimes.
Here at the Sperry Top-Sider Annapolis NOOD, Farr 30 class president and Groovederci skipper Deneen Demourkas is racing against her husband, John, also skippering a boat called Groovederci. The couple, based in Santa Barbara, Calif., owns a handful of Bruce Farr-designed raceboats.
“Typically, he’ll be in the [Farr] 40, and I’ll be in the 30,” says Demourkas, who is spearheading a Farr 30 resurgence leading up to the class’s North American championship, taking place in San Francisco in August. “But this year, I’m like, honey, I’m the class president, and I need all the help I can get. You’re sailing the 30 this year, honey. It’ll be an interesting summer.”
Going into the final day of racing, Deneen’s team sits in third place, 1 point behind John’s team and 4 points behind Jim Richardson’s Barking Mad. At one point during Saturday’s racing, John tacked on Deneen. “I’m like, ‘Okay.’ I get the strategy part, when things are necessary, and when they’re not. So I’m like, ‘Okay, fine.’ Later in the race, we tacked on them. His tactician was like, ‘That wasn’t very nice.’ Come on! We’re racing. We’re definitely racing. He’s not bowing over and going, ‘No, you dear, please.'”
Tensions have flared in the past, like at this year’s Key West Race Week, where the couple competed against one another in the Farr 40 class. “I felt that he went out of his way to tack on us,” she says. “I had a bit of a scream at him in between races, then he got mad at me for screaming at him. We got back to the dock and the tactician was like, ‘Take it easy, you two.’ A few mudslides later, it was all good.”
More often than not, in fact, it’s all good. “It can be really fun,” says Demourkas. “At a Farr 40 worlds in Miami, he rounded the weather mark just in front of us. We’re going down the run, and the main trimmer’s standing in the back, pumping the main. He drops his shorts, and is hanging a BA at us all down the run. Nobody on his boat knew this was going on except the main trimmer. My whole boat was in stitches. We turned to the Greeks next to us and were like, ‘See what we have to put up with?'”