Jack Lynch’s contribution to the sailing industry and one design racing was bigger than the enormous contribution he gave to the clubs he belonged to, including Annapolis Yacht Club and West River Sailing Club.
John “Jack” W. Lynch, who wore his title of AYC “Club Curmudgeon” as a badge of honor, passed away peacefully on Sunday, November 26, 2023, while looking out over the creek at his Edgewater home. For countless years, Jack was the keeper of the racing history of the AYC and continued to be active on the History and Artifact Committee and Protest Committee. He advised Commodores, the Sailing Committee and Race Chairs.
He co-created the master database for trophies and half hulls at the Club, without which the post-fire 2015 rebuild of the trophy and artifact collections would have been next to impossible to recreate. Jack had an affinity for the Junior Sailing Program and dedicated numerous awards currently handed out at the end of each season, renamed at his request for his friend and mentee, AYC’s first Junior Program Director, Robert Shapiro. With rare exception, he could tell you the history of all our Club trophies as well as the history of many class trophies including the Star Class, a class he could wax lyrical about for hours.
A basketball player in college at Cooper Union, Jack did not start sailing until middle age, but like everything else he did, he learned everything he could and brought his intelligence and tenacity to competitive sailing in the Lightning and Star classes. In the Star Class, Jack competed in world championships and three Olympic Trials. He won the North American Laser 28 and the Northern Ireland Dragon Championships. He had been a National Race Officer and National Judge and the Past Commodore of the West River Sailing Club.
Jack joined AYC in 1979 and spent years working alongside Past Race Chair Chip Thayer and Past Commodore Ron Ward, ensuring AYC was known worldwide as a top-level host Club for Championships.
He served for years on the Annapolis to Newport Race Committee, including standing watch at Castle Hill Light for the finish, until he moved himself into an administrative role for the event, for many years. Jack also served on the Building & Grounds and Membership Committees at AYC.
Over 50 years ago, Jack founded a company called Chesapeake Cutters which installed one of the first computer driven laser sail cutting machines, allowing multiple sails to be “stacked” and cut at the same time. He developed the early sails for the Laser Class.
For many years Jack encouraged AYC leadership to purchase the adjacent marina property, which is now AYC’s Sailing Center. His success at building participation in one design sailing at AYC included supporting and building the local J/22 and Etchells fleets. In honor and recognition of his success, in One Design fleet building, Jack was awarded US Sailing’s One-Design Service Award, the John H. Gardiner, Jr. Trophy.