Over four days of racing at the Rolex Farr 40 North American Championship, held off Newport, R.I. from Wednesday, July 4 through Saturday, July 7, it was anyone’s guess as to who would win, since leading up to Saturday’s final two races there had been seven different race winners over the previous eight races and each day had yielded a different overall leader. The event, headquartered at the Newport Shipyard and sailed on Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound, hosted 11 teams that kept the bets going through to the last day, when Jim Richardson’s (Newport, R.I.) Barking Mad finally settled everything by clinching the championship after the day’s first of two races and finishing with an overall lead of six points.
“It’s great to win a continental championship,” said Richardson, who is a three-time Farr 40 World Champion (1998, 2004, 2009) and counts this as his first North American championship in the class. “It has only taken me 15 years,” he added with a smile at Saturday’s Rolex Awards Ceremony where he was presented with a Rolex Submariner timepiece for his team’s performance. “Today was a great day, and we got off to a great start in Race 9 and were able to finish second, which helped us to sew up our position for the event.”
Crewing for Richardson were Eric Aakhus (Newport Beach, Calif.); Dave Armitage (Newport, R.I.); Lindsay Bartel (Chicago, Ill.); Skip Baxter (Annapolis, Md.); David Chapman (Sydney Aus/Cowes UK); Zac Hurst, Zac (Valencia Spain); Martin Kullman (St. Petersburg, Fla.); Linda Lindquist-Bishop (Leland, Mich./Seoul Korea); and Matt Mcdonough (Jackson Hole, Wyoming).
In Race 10, with Richardson holding an unassailable 13-point lead, a dogfight broke out among three teams separated by only one point from each other. Fates weren’t sealed until the last leg, however, when the wind lightened, allowing an escape for Alberto Rossi’s (Ancona, Italy) Enfant Terrible to pass Alexander Roepers’ Plenty and cross the finish line in first. It put Enfant Terrible in second overall with 45 points, just two-points ahead of Struntje light, skippered by Wolfgang Schaefer (Germany), which finished in third-place overall with a fourth-place finish. Plenty had to settle for fourth overall with a fifth-place finish and 50 points, while Richardson, who cruised to ninth in that race, posted 39 points in the final standings.
“We won only two races in the regatta, but we have been really consistent,” said Enfant Terrible’s Rossi, who held onto second-place overall throughout the entire series. “Unfortunately, in the first race today we made a mistake when we had the opportunity to fight for the first position, but the best thing for me is that in the last race we showed that we could fight until the end.”
In addition to Barking Mad, Enfant Terrible and Struntje light, other first-place finishers throughout the week were Onur Erardag’s (Istanbul, Turkey) Provezza 8, John Demourkas’s (San Diego, Calif.) Groovederci, Guido Belgiorno-Nettis’s (Sydney, Australia) Transfusion and Kevin McNeil’s (Annapolis, Md.) Nightshift.
Barking Mad’s Jim Richardson was presented with the Rolex Submariner timepiece by Rolex USA’s Colette Bennett
Photo Credit Daniel Forster
“This was actually quite an unusual regatta because normally it’s so close going right down to the last race,” said Race Chair and Class Manager Geoff Stagg. “The fleet was mixing it up on day one, day two, and day three, but then Barking Mad secured a lead where they really didn’t have to sail the last race. Overall, it was a fantastic event. The weather couldn’t have been better: we got ten races in, everyone loved Newport, and as a consequence, there is a high probability we’ll be back here for our world championship next year.”
Stagg explained that this year’s Rolex Farr 40 World Championship is scheduled for Sept. 17-20 in Chicago, which accounts for why so many foreign teams entered the North Americans in Newport. “You are going to see many of the same boats that you saw here contesting for the world championship plus a few more,” said Stagg. “What I get the most pleasure from is watching how good these owner/drivers are; I’d put them up against any of the pro sailors in the world.”
In addition to Rolex as title sponsor, supporting sponsors were Apollo Jets and Newport Shipyard. Vanquish Boats and PURE Yachting provided logistical assistance. The Organizing Authority was the Farr 40 Class Association in conjunction with The Storm Trysail Club.
Daily race reports and photos are available at www.Farr40.org, along with video coverage provided by T2PTV.
Place, Yacht Name, Owner/Skipper, Hometown, Results, Total Points
1. Barking Mad, James Richardson , Boston, Mass., USA, 3, 3, 10, 2, 3, 3, 3, 1, 2, 9, ; 39
2. Enfant Terrible, Alberto Rossi , Ancona, ITA , 4, 6, 2, 6, 1, 5, 6, 7, 7, 1, ; 45
3. Struntje light, Wolfgang Schaefer , Lueneburg, GER, 2, 4, 8, 1, 2, 10, 10, 5, 1, 4, ; 47
4. Plenty, Alexander Roepers , New York, N.Y., USA, 7, 7, 5, 4, 10, 2, 4, 2, 4, 5, ; 50
5. Provezza 8, Ergin Imre / Onur Erardag , Istanbul, TUR, 10, 1, 7, 8, 4, 7, 1, 8, 3, 8, ; 57
6. Groovederci, John Demourkas , Santa Barbara, Calif., USA, 6, 5, 3, 7, 7, 1, 9, 11, 8, 2, ; 59
7. Transfusion, Guido Belgiorno-Nettis , Sydney, NSW, AUS, 9, 10, 1, 3, 5, 9, 8, 3, 6, 7, ; 61
8. Nightshift, Kevin McNeil , Annapolis, Md., USA, 1, 8, 6, 10, 9, 4, 2, 4, 10, 10, ; 64
9. Asterisk Uno, Hasip Gencer , Istanbul, TUR, 8, 9, 9, 5, 8, 6, 5, 6, 5, 3, ; 64
10. Charisma, Nico Poons , Monaco, MON, 5, 2, 4, 9, 6, 11, 7, 9, 9, 6, ; 68
11. Yellow Jacket, Bulman Scholz Syndicate , Annapolis, Md, USA, 11, 11, 11, 11, 11, 8, 11, 10, 11, 11, ; 106
Flash Gordon 5, the Farr 40 owned by Helmut Jahn won the 2009 Rolex Farr 40 North American Championship, held September 24-27 in Chicago, Ill. Nine teams representing the best in North American one-design racing battled on Lake Michigan beneath the skyline that Jahn’s architecture firm Murphy/Jahn has helped to define over the past three decades. Racing was hosted at the Chicago Yacht Club (CYC), which provided race committee assistance under the leadership of Principal Race Officer Sue Reilly. At the awards ceremony held at the CYC, Jahn was presented with a specially engraved Rolex timepiece by Farr 40 Class Secretary Bunny Wayt.
“This title means a lot to the team because it is the culmination of a lot of hard work,” said Evan Jahn, Helmut Jahn’s son and co-helm of Flash Gordon 5. “With the achievement there now is the added responsibility of defending it and that requires continued effort so that we can stay at the front of the fleet. This victory solidifies us as one of the top Farr 40 teams in the country, and world, and we will use the upcoming winter events to prepare for the 2010 Rolex Farr 40 Worlds at Casa de Campo.”
The younger Jahn, who is pursuing a Masters Degree in environmental management and sustainability, alternates helm responsibilities with his father, driving the boat at the race start, upwind to the mark and then trading off for the downwind legs.
Personally, Evan Jahn was thrilled with the victory. “This is my first National and North American championship,” he said. “I know Helmut and a couple of the other crew members have won some world championships in other classes, but for me this is a big achievement. It is really reinvigorating to win something big, finally, as a testament to how much time, hard work, and energy our team has put in over the past three years towards not only this class, but the sport as well.
Conditions ranged from light to moderate wind over the four days of racing. Amazingly consistent, Flash Gordon 5 won five races in the 10-race series. “On day 2, in the first race, it became apparent that the ability to go to the left was very powerful, and in the first race Heartbreaker proved that by winning the pin end and eventually winning the race,” explained Evan Jahn. “We told ourselves that we needed the pin after that, and succeed in executing that plan in the following two races. Also that day was the first time during the regatta that the RC decided to put in a gate and identifying that allowed us to gain a slight advantage as it seemed we were one of the few boats to recognize that. The other races that we won were not due to great starts, but they were not bad starts either. Day 3 was really light and shifty so those victories came down to (tactician) Bill Hardesty’s patience and our boat speed. Our starts were not decisive that day, but we ducked some boats when we had to and were able to get in phase and arrive at the windward mark in contention, and then used good downwind speed and excellent crew work at mark roundings to pick our way to the front.”
Understandably the second day of competition, on Friday, stands out for the team aboard Flash Gordon 5. “Day 2 was nerve racking!” continued Jahn. “We put up our heavy, medium, and light (sails, in that order) and the result was a condition that we were never fully set-up for until the last race when conditions had stabilized. The light air combined with the chop and little feel with the wheel required a lot of attention from everyone. Weight placement was always changing, as was constant trimming on both the main and the jib. It was one of those conditions where you could lose a couple of boat lengths in a minute if you hit a bad set of waves or were not able accelerate out of a tack. After that day was over the whole team breathed a sigh of relief because they were conditions that anything could have happened with no real fault of our own, and to come out as well as we did was a big stress relief.”
Crew member David Gerber explained the feeling on board going into the final day of racing on Sunday. “Honestly, we felt very much in control of the regatta on Saturday evening,” he said. “I believe we had an 11-point lead. We knew there was wind in the forecast for Sunday and there would be no light air ‘stress.’”
On Sunday, in honor of the late sailor Tom Neill (Chicago), who campaigned many race boats including the Farr 40 Nitemare, the Flash Gordon 5 team donned red shirts with the initials ‘TN’ embroidered on the back.
“The last day of racing was fantastic” said Gerber. “It was a true Chicago pleasure – sailing in a strong, firm southwest breeze. We knew when we left the dock we had to sail clean, keep the crew and boat safe. There was no need to run any huge risks. Our first two starts were very conservative and we kept ourselves clean. I don’t think this worked well for us. We never have sailed from a spot in the lead and Race 9 was our worst race. We didn’t sail well and our crew work wasn’t polished. I think the team was too reserved. Fortunately, Helmut wanted to stay out for Race 10 and the crew wanted to go out with a win. I feel Race 10 was one of our better, if not, best races of the regatta. We were slightly behind, sailed fast, sailed smart and survived. We won a tacking duel on the final beat.”
Gerber went on to explain that the goal for Flash Gordon 5 was the North American title. “Not always an easy thing to do — say you want to win and do it,” he said. “These guys were awesome. We stayed positive, pushed hard and sailed well. Two other team members that deserve recognition are Kyle Kandt, the boat captain and Ed Adams, our coach. These two men did everything they could to help us go faster and sail smarter. Kyle had the boat in fantastic shape, the best boat in the fleet. And, Ed was his usual self of picking up strengths of the other teams and blending them into our strengths. There is no detail either one of these two miss. For Helmut and Evan — the fastest Father/Son tandem in the Farr 40 Class — I think this is awesome. For our team, I think this is awesome. For many months the North Americans was our bull’s eye and we hit it.”
Flash Gordon 5 crew included Joe Londrigan, Matt Cassidy, Scott Murin, Alan Nakanishi, Jamie Stuursma and Brian Turuta.
Bob Hughes Heartbreaker (Ada, Mich.), with tactician Steve Hunt, finished in second place, with Don Wilson’s Convexity (Chicago), tactician Eric Doyle, in third.
Prior to the North Americans, the fleet participated in the Windy City Match Race, hosted at the CYC, where Flash Gordon 5 won the two-day match racing regatta after a tie-break with Heartbreaker.
Title sponsor of the Rolex Farr 40 North American Championship is Rolex Watch U.S.A.
About Rolex Watch U.S.A. Since Rolex Watch U.S.A. first presented timepieces to America’s Cup defenders in 1958, the company has consistently recognized and encouraged excellence in every important arena of competitive sailing, including elite athlete preparation, US SAILING championships, disabled sailing, and offshore, one-design and women’s events.
The Rolex Farr 40 North American Championship joins other prestigious Rolex 2009 events including the Rolex Miami OCR, Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, Rolex Swan Cup, Rolex Big Boat Series, Rolex Farr 40 World Championship and the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
2009 Rolex Farr 40 North American Championship
Results (9 boats, 10 races)
Position, Farr 40 Name, Owner/ Helmsman, Hometown, Race1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10, Total Points
1. Flash Gordon 5, Helmut Jahn, Chicago, Ill., 2-3-1-1-2-1-1-4-2-1, 18 points
2. Heartbreaker, Bob Hughes, Ada, Mich., 3-1-3-5-3-5-2-3-3-3, 31
3. Convexity, Don Wilson, Chicago, Ill., 1-2-4-2-5-2-7-6-2-2, 33
4. Defiant, Grant Wood, Toronto, Ontario, CAN, 4-6-2-6-1-6-3-1-1-10/DNF*, 40
5. Inferno, Phil Dowd, Chicago, Ill., 8-4-7-3-6-3-4-5-5-4, 49
6. Hot Lips, Chris Whitford, Chicago, Ill., 7-5-5-7-4-4-6-8-8-7, 61
7. Spaceman Spiff, Rob Ruhlman, Cleveland, Ohio, 6-7-8-8-7-7-5-4-6-6, 64
8. Virago, Stuart Townsend, Chicago, Ill., 5-8-9-9-8-9-8-7-7-5, 75
9. Pendragon, Brian Jackman, Chicago, Ill., 9-9-6-4-9-8-9-9-10/DNF, 10/DNC**