Flash Gordon 6 wins Farr 40 North Americans
Published on September 11th, 2016
Helmut and Evan Jahn dominated the Farr 40 North Americans, held September 8-11 in Chicago, IL. As the only non-Corinthian team, Jahn’s Flash Gordon 6 team built a 16 point lead after 11 races, with Norboy led by Leif Sigmond and Marcus Thymian finishing second and winning the Corinthian title.
Report from Farr 40 class:
Chicago Yacht Club served as gracious host and provided impeccable race committee work while Lake Michigan delivered a wide range of conditions that tested the seven-boat fleet over the course of the four-day regatta.
“We were absolutely thrilled to host the Farr 40 North Americans and are very pleased with how everything went,” said Leif Sigmond, vice commodore of the Chicago Yacht Club and owner of Norboy.
The Farr 40 North Americans fell in between two other notable events hosted by Chicago Yacht Club – the Beneteau 36.7 North Americans and the Star Class North Americans.
“It’s been a busy end-of-season for the club. We love hosting major regattas, and with all humility, we’re quite good at it,” Sigmond said. “We believe Chicago Yacht Club has one of the country’s best race committees. We would love to get the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship back here some day.”
Flash Gordon 6, a professional entry owned by the father-son team of Helmut and Evan Jahn, captured the Farr 40 North American Championship in impressive fashion. Evan started the boat and steered upwind while Helmut helmed downwind as Flash Gordon 6 won six of 11 races and totaled 21 points.
“Naturally, we are very pleased to defend our North American Championship, said Helmut Jahn, whose team captured last year’s crown off Santa Barbara, California.
“This was a fantastic regatta in all respects. Racing could not have been any nicer. We had great competition on the water and real positive camaraderie off it. I thought the race committee did an excellent job. I think this event makes a point for the class to consider coming back to Chicago for the world championship.”
Sigmond and co-owner Marcus Thymian sailed Norboy to a runner-up finish with 37 points. George Szabo called tactics while mainsail trimmer Tom Babel was the other pro onboard Norboy, which captured the Corinthian title in an incredibly tight battle with Hot Lips.
Norboy won a tiebreaker with Hot Lips by virtue of notching three bullets during the regatta, which began last Thursday. Eagle’s Wings and Inferno also tied with 38 points – marking the closest Corinthian competition the class has ever seen.
“It literally came down to the last leg of the last race and we crossed the line by about a boat length ahead of Eagle’s Wings. That was the difference between finishing second and fourth overall and also decided the Corinthian Championship,” Sigmond said. “It really was an amazing, drama-filled last 50 yards. We just feel so blessed by this result. I’m still on a high.”
Annapolis-based professional Geoff Ewenson served as tactician aboard Flash Gordon 6, which captured the 2012 Rolex Farr 40 World Championship when it was contested off Chicago. Headsail trimmer Dave Gerber has been part of the Flash Gordon program for 21 years while main trimmer Joe Londrigan and pit man Scott Murin are also long-time crew members.
“I think our success this week comes from having a core team that has been together for many years,” Evan Jahn said. “This is a chartered boat and we were able to get it sorted out and up to speed rather quickly. We figured out what was and wasn’t working through great communication.”
Jahn said having a chartered boat and 2-year-old sails made for a challenge and was proud the crew overcome both factors. “People might look at the scoresheet and think Flash won because it was the only pro boat. This victory was not because we had better sails or more pros. We earned this win and the racing was very close. There were a couple races when we were behind and had to work our way back. I’d say our boat speed upwind was the biggest differential.”
Helmut Jahn came away from the regatta extremely impressed with the caliber of the Corinthian fleet. Having four of the six boats separated by just one point after four days and 11 races was remarkable, the world-renowned architect said.
“We have a great group of owners who were inspired by the 2012 worlds that were here and the overall quality of the Chicago fleet has improved tremendously,” he said.
This marks the sixth season of Farr 40 racing for Norboy, which Sigmond and Thymian purchased in 2010. They recently captured the Farr 40 one-design class in the fabled Chicago-to-Mackinac Race. Sigmond hesitated when asked if this latest result gave the crew even more confidence.
“Yes, it is a confidence-boost. That being said, the results easily could have been flipped around,” he said. “It was as close to a four-way tie as there possibly could be. This local fleet is so darn competitive. It’s really a lot of fun.”
Owner-driver Chris Whitford and the Hot Lips team certainly sailed a terrific regatta, winning a race and placing second in four others. Hall of Fame professional Mark Reynolds called tactics for Whitford, who had high praise for the former Olympic gold medalist and multi-time Star world champion.
“Mark Reynolds is the consummate tactician. He only speaks when there’s something important that needs to be said,” Whitford said. “It was a real learning experience just to have him on the boat.”
Reynolds was the only Category 3 sailor on Hot Lips as Whitford chose not to exercise his option to have a second pro. Michael Whitford, 27, serves as helmsman for his father and did a superb job of steering the boat in the diverse conditions.
“My son does a lot of match racing and I think that showed at the starts. I can safely say that we won most of the starts,” Chris Whitford said. “I think we performed real well in the light to moderate winds. We had some issues getting sails up and down in the heavier air on Saturday.”
Lots of boats had trouble on Saturday when a squall swept across Lake Michigan and left 20-30 knot winds and heavy seas in its wake. Norboy made its move on the other Corinthian entries by posting a second and two thirds in the four races held Saturday.
Hot Lips may have fallen just short of capturing the North American Corinthian championship, but did secure the Great Lakes Farr 40 Fleet season championship as a result.