5/22/2013

TEAM 'AUNT JEAN' CONTINUES TO PERFORM AFTER 25 YEARS OF RACING ON THE CHESAPEAKE

Veronica Brown

The North Sails-powered J/35 team wins Sperry Top-Sider Annapolis NOOD

Sailing together has become more than just a tradition for Jim Sagerholm, his wife Debbie and their crew, who race their J/35 Aunt Jean, which his father first bought in 1986, three years after it was built. In fact, it has become a way of life - and a winning one at that - for the Sagerholms and their partners, Jerry and Joanne Christofel, who have spent nearly 25 years together racing on the Chesapeake Bay. The Aunt Jean team has continuously topped the local leader board most recently winning their class at the Sperry Top-Sider Annapolis NOOD.

J/35 Aunt Jean
"We have raced together consistently every year since my Dad bought the boat in 1986 with the exception of 2001 and 2002 when my dad stopped racing. After a two-year break, Jerry and I decided to buy the boat from my Dad," explained Sagerholm who was on his way to a Wednesday night race with Debbie during this interview with North Sails. "Since then, we have won the North Americans twice (2000 and 2010), we have won Block Island Race Week multiple times and last season, we even won the High Point for the Chesapeake Bay (an award honoring the boat with the best cumulative record across all fleets in the Annapolis area). It has been a really good run."

"If you don't have good sails, you can't do well," the Sagerholms explained when asked about sail inventory and choice. "Although we don't have the budget to buy new sails every year, we are confident with North sail designs and performance and we feel we get the best punch both upwind and downwind in the J/35 with North sails," said Debbie, who does the pit. "If your crew doesn't have confidence in the boat and/or the sails, they don't perform as well. We don't hesitate going sailing when it's windy or rough because we know we have a good product and we think North sails give us an edge."

"The Sagerhloms and Christofels are very conservative with sail purchases and get great durability from their sails," said Jonathan Bartlett of North Sails who has sailed with Jim Sagerholm since 1986. "They recently ordered a Premium Paneled Mainsail and prior to that, a 3DL 600 155% headsail. But the best part of Aunt Jean is the crew. They normally sail with at least three couples and the rest are longtime friends," Bartlett continued. "It's like an old coat when you sail on Aunt Jean because it's well worn and a perfect fit."

In addition to the Sagerholms and Christofels, Annapolis sailors Doug Smith and Timmy and Kristin Mangus sail onboard regularly. "We also have some young bloods who race with us like our new bowman Bubba Suggs, Mike Udell and Matt York," Sagerholm explained. "We mix in some crew from New Jersey when our regulars can't make it, like Al Schreitmueller, and of course our sailmaker Jonathan Bartlett sails with us for the bigger events or whenever he can. The boat has always had North sails since the get-go which is obviously why Jonathan likes sailing with us so much," Sagerholm said with a laugh.

Although the Aunt Jean crew sails most of their regattas in the spring and fall when it's windier on the Chesapeake, they will continue racing on Wednesday nights at the Annapolis Yacht Club throughout the summer. "We will sail in the Leukemia Cup in June and then we will wait until September to race in the bigger One Design events, like the Race Down to Oxford, the AYC Fall Series, the Hospice Cup and the J/35 Mid Atlantics," Sagerholm said.