Eight Bells: Jack Lynch

Published on November 27th, 2023

Jack Lynch

John “Jack” Lynch, a top racing sailor and long-time race officer from Annapolis, MD, passed away on November 26, 2023. He was 93 years of age.

Jack, as he was known, was an Eagle Scout at the age of 14, and later graduated from Cooper Union College (New York) with a degree in engineering in 1952. He was drafted soon after graduating from college during the Korean War, and was assigned to The Pentagon where one of his roommates introduced him to sailing.

He joined the West River Sailing Club in Galesville, MD after his service in the Army and raced Chesapeake 20s and Lightnings. In 1973, he was elected Commodore of the West River SC and worked hard to establish a Star Class fleet. In a few years, over 25 Stars were racing out of the club.

In 1971, he was intrigued by the new singlehanded Laser designed by Bruce Kirby and built by Ian Bruce in Canada. Both Kirby and Bruce were dedicated to making sure their boat was a strictly one-design class, and when Bruce was dissatisfied with the quality control in sail construction, Jack started the company Chesapeake Cutters to make the sails.

Using a computerized production method, his Gerber Cutter precisely cut every piece of fabric, and the company was able to build hundreds of sails everyday as the demand grew for the Laser. Over the years, Chesapeake Cutters made 200,000 Laser sails and also provided sails for the Windsurfer Class. In 1980, Lynch moved the company out of Annapolis to Ireland where labor costs were lower.

In 1979, he joined the Annapolis Yacht Club and became a highly sought-after race officer. He credits Ron Ward and Chip Thayer for inspiring him to become a US Sailing Certified National race officer, judge, and umpire. In 1991, he was a driving force of the acquisition of the Arnold C. Gay Yacht Yard on Annapolis Harbor.

He became the manager of the yard on behalf of the Annapolis YC and worked for several years to transition the property from a working boat yard to dry storage facility that currently accommodates several classes of racing boats. Along with Arnie Gay, he proposed that members purchase J/22s for racing with the incentive of storing the boats on the club’s new property. Within two years, over 70 J/22s were racing in the fleet.

Jack had noted, “When we got the sailing center, suddenly we were capable of handling one design boats. We held the Star World Championship, Mumm 30 World Championship, and the Etchells North Americans.”

He served as a judge at many major championships including the J/22 Worlds, Star North Americans, Star Class USA Olympic Trials, and US Sailing’s Rolex International Women’ Keelboat Championship.

Jack was born on October 24, 1930, in Queens, New York City to John Lynch and Mary McNally Lynch. His father was a policeman whose beat was Central Park in Manhattan. He was proud of his Irish heritage, as all four of his grandparents were born in Ireland. He was a lifelong bachelor
and had a gift for gab with a dry sense of humor.

He was a mentor to many young sailors, sponsored regattas and trophies for four classes raced by juniors on Chesapeake Bay, with the promotion of junior sailing as one of his enduring legacy. – Gary Jobson; Annapolis, Maryland

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