Australian sailor, Darren ‘Twirler’ Jones, has just returned home from Newport, Rhode Island, fresh from winning his fifth world title in the Farr 30 one-design yacht class.
Jones, from Sydney’s Northern Beaches, won this latest title against a world-class field that featured previous winners, America’s Cup sailors, world champions in other classes and Olympians. He was sailing as one of two professionals for Deneen Demourkas aboard Groovederci from the USA and was instrumental in the boat’s third consecutive World title win – a first in the class.
Groovederci’s crew won three out of 11 races, sailed on offshore and inshore courses in a variety of conditions. They claimed the title from former multiple world champion, Jim Richardson’s Barking Mad (USA).
‘We were the only ones to win three races, but it was a really close championship. In the sixth race, the lead changed three times. In the end, we beat Barking Mad over the line by about four inches, that’s how close it was,’ said Jones who can claim eight world titles in various classes.
‘If Barking Mad had won that race, they would have won the world title it doesn’t get much better than that,’ he added.
Winning his two previous Farr 30 titles with Demourkas, Jones first win, though, was with Australian Richard Perini in 2004. He also won the Farr 40 World Championship months later in 2005 with Perini, who described Jones as ‘my right hand man.’ Title number two was with another Australian, the late Guy Stening, in 2008.
In June 2012, Jones won the prestigious Seahorse ‘Sailor of the Month’, nominated from sailors around the world and voted on worldwide. Victories at the Farr 30 North American Championship and the Farr 30 Magic Cup were amongst his titles at the time.
One of Australia’s greatest sailing exports in the world of one-design sailing, as such, Jones is always in demand on the world circuit. Strangely, perhaps, he would love to do more sailing in Australia, admitting: ‘It means so much to win for your own country.’
At home, Jones does some racing aboard the Melges 32, II Unlimited, for Tasmanian Greg ‘Enzo’ Prescott. The crew has come away with a number of titles, including from the 2013 Sydney Harbour Regatta, where they won every race ahead of taking the Australian Championship title one month later.
‘The thing about racing with and against the best in the world is that you learn so much and can bring the knowledge home with you and apply to boats you sail on here. The guys here love it,’ Jones said.
The Tasmanian bred sailor and member of the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania who calls Sydney home these days, is not resting on his laurels; he is booked up to sail at the Melges 20 Europeans in Porto Rotondo, Italy, later this month, followed by the Melges 32 World Championship at the same venue in September, where he hopes to win a ninth world title.
by Di Pearson