With three races conducted in strong winds, there was opportunity for boats to make a significant move in the standings on the second day of Quantum Key West 2012. Or in some cases it was a chance to further increase leads taken on Day 1. Pisces fit into the former category, moving into the overall lead in Melges 32 class by winning two of three races on Tuesday. Skipper Benjamin Schwartz and company showed superb boat speed and made some sound tactical decisions and now lead the 19-boat fleet by tiebreaker over John Kilroy and the Samba Pa Ti team. “We are a new program so it is a tremendous feeling to be doing well in a big-time regatta like Key West. Hopefully, we can keep it going,” said Schwartz, who joined the class last summer and promptly placed fourth at U.S. Nationals. Schwartz has America’s Cup veteran Ed Baird calling tactics and Quantum professional Scott Nixon trimming the jib and spinnaker. “You have to give Ed and Scott a lot of credit for getting our boat up to speed,” he said. “I’m fortunate to have a great crew. Today was very challenging because the wind velocity was up and down and the sea state was not very forgiving, but the guys never stopped working and we were able to change gears pretty well.” Race committees on all three courses completed three races in 8-14 knot easterly winds.
With five races in the bag, organizers with Premiere Racing are already halfway to the stated goal of holding 10 races during the five-day regatta. There was a lead change in the Farr 40 class as well with Charisma (Nico Poons, Monaco) and Struntje Light (Wolfgang Schaefer, Germany) overtaking Groovederci (John Demourkas, Santa Barbara, Cal.). Struntje Light has posted a pair of seconds and finished no lower than fourth in the seven-boat fleet, but Charisma holds the overall lead via tiebreaker by virtue of winning Race 5. “We had a very good day on the water and are happy with where we stand at the moment,” Schaefer said. “We have nice boat speed upwind and our crew work has been excellent. We have a very good tactician and he’s made some fantastic calls that have kept me in phase.” Renowned Italian professional and America’s Cup veteran Vasco Vascotta is calling tactics aboard Struntje Light, which has competed in Farr 40 class at Key West ever since 2002 with a top finish of third. “Wolfgang is doing a good job of driving and is getting better every day. The guys onboard have a great attitude and are ready to fight to the end. The good news is that we can still improve our performance.” PowerPlay lived up to its name by making a strong move in IRC 2 class with a strong line of 1-3-4 on Tuesday. Owner Peter Cunningham, a resident of Georgetown in the Cayman Islands, has a nice mix of amateur and professional crew with tactician Tony Rey, trimmer Dave Scott and bowman Geordie Shaver among the superstars aboard. “We’ve only had the boat for six months and we’ve made a lot of modifications during that time,” Cunningham said. “We’re pretty happy with our performance so far. We’re sailing fairly well and having a lot of fun.” Quantum Racing, skippered by Doug DeVos, continues to set the pace in the 52-foot class and leads PowerPlay by six points. Terry Hutchinson, helmsman for the Swedish syndicate Artemis Racing that is Challenge of Record for the America’s Cup, has made strong tactical calls in leading Quantum to victory in three races and second in the two others. “Today was far from straightforward. The wind was very shifty and there are some tricky current patches to deal with,” Hutchinson said. In other classes, the three-race day merely served as an opportunity for the early leaders to extend on the competition.
Ran, a Judel-Vrolijk 72-footer, continues to sail impressively in the Mini Maxi class (IRC 1), winning all five races so far. Red, skippered by Joe Woods of Great Britain with Paul Goodison aboard as tactician, has accomplished the same feat in the inaugural Farr 400 class. “I guess we’ve just figured the boat out a little faster than the other teams,” said Woods, who has previously sailed a Melges 32 at Key West. “We’re winning, but not by much. The racing has been awfully close.” West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes has posted straight bullets in Melges 24 class and built a commanding 10-point lead over Alan Field and the WTF team. Detroit resident Bora Gulari is steering and getting tactical advice from Australian native and North Sails pro Jeremy Wilmot as West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes seeks to follow up on its 2011 national championship. Groovederci, skippered by Deneen Demourkas of Santa Barbara, Cal., has won all five races in Farr 30 class. Teamwork, a J/122 owned by Robin Team of Lexington, N.C., has posted two bullets and a pair of seconds in grabbing a narrow one-point lead over the 1D35 Tres Hombres in PHRF 1. “We’re having a great time because the conditions have been terrific and the competition has been spectacular,” said Team, who has his brother and two sons in the crew. “We’ve been mixing it up with Tres Hombres and finished overlapped with them in the first two races today. Rush is also tough so I think it will be a dogfight the whole way.” Rush, a J/109 skippered by Bill Sweetser of Annapolis, was named Lewmar / Navtec Boat of the Day after posting a superb score line of 3-2-1. Tom Babel is calling tactics while Quantum pro Tad Hutchins is calling tactics on Rush, which is currently third in PHRF 1 and second in the J/Boats Subclass. “The conditions were very good for us today. When the wind is 14 knots or less we can fly our big jib, which is kind of like our secret weapon,” Sweetser said. “We pay for that jib in our rating so it’s good whenever we can use it.” It’s been close but no cigar for Rush at Key West as Sweetser’s boat has finished first or second in class several times, but never come away as overall winner at week’s end. “One of these years we’re going to finally break through and it’s going to be wonderful,” he said. Regatta dates are January 15 – 20, 2012.
For more Key West Race Week photos by Tim Wilkes check out Tim Wilkes Photography
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**