Saturday, April 30, 2016

Annapolis NOOD Regatta Preview

J/70s sailing Annapolis 
(Annapolis, MD)- The end of April has traditionally marked the start of the long racing season on Chesapeake Bay and the principal event that sailors look forward to after a long winter is the Helly Hansen Annapolis NOOD regatta, hosted by the trio of clubs around Annapolis- Annapolis YC, Eastport YC and Severn Sailing Association.  As has been the case for years, a veritable J/Navy invades for the weekend to enjoy the warm southern hospitality on offer from the local denizens in downtown Annapolis as well as at the various clubs.

Not surprisingly, the popular event attracts teams from far and wide, Chicago to Maine and upstate New York to Florida.  194 boats will be taking to the water, 146 of them (75% of the total fleet!) spread throughout JBoats’ eight classes (a record number of classes ever in one event!)- J/22s, J/24s, J/70s, J/80s, J/30s, J/35s, J/105s, J/111s and PHRF teams (J/109s, J/42, J/110, J/29).

A rather benign weather forecast indicates the sailors may enjoy the rum squalls under the tents more than what happens on the water.  The weather service indicates a light, rainy east/southeast breeze on Friday; a partly cloudy day on Saturday with a strong northerly in the morning, quickly dying and shifting east; and then a nice sunny day on Sunday with a light southeast wind- temps in the high 50s to mid 60s all weekend.  Not bad, but let’s hope those ivory tower weather gurus are wrong!
Annapolis weather
A new feature for this year’s Helly Hansen Annapolis NOOD Regatta is the advent of the Helly Hansen Junior Crew team.  Sailing is a pastime that doesn’t discriminate based on age. It’s a competitive outlet where young sail with, against, and alongside elders, as well their peers. And, whereas many youth sports segregate kids to the field of play and adults to the sidelines, sailboat racing does not. Sailing is the ultimate lifetime sport. Ask the outstanding youth sailors selected to be members of Helly Hansen’s Junior Crew, which will compete at the 2016 Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta in Annapolis in May.

“There’s small hole in the pipeline of our sport where kids can fall out after junior sailing,” says Dave Reed, Editor of Sailing World, which owns the 26-year NOOD Regatta series. “They come back eventually, but miss out on great years of keelboat team sailing. This initiative will prove the value of having young sailors on the team. They bring infectious curiosity and energy to every race.”

J/105 youth sailors at Annapolis NOODThese five sailors, aged 14 to 17 will compete in the J/105 class, against national champions and highly experienced teams, putting their dingy skills to use in the big keelboat:

Annabelle Hutchinson, Age 17
Born and raised in Annapolis, Annabelle Hutchinson comes from a big sailing family. She has raced competitively on the St. Mary's High School sailing team since freshman year, and while she loves dinghy sailing, she is very excited to get more experience on keelboats.

Andrew Hiller, Age 14
Andrew Hiller has been sailing as long as he can remember, mostly in Optis and a local J/70 fleet on Wednesday nights. He also plays Water Polo for Navy.

Kate Riley, Age 16
Kate Riley has been sailing dinghies (420s and Optis) since she was about six years old and has been racing on her high school's sailing team since 8th grade. She has had some experience with sailing keelboats, but she hopes to have more opportunities to do so as her sailing career advances.

Ben Podlich, Age 15
Ben Podlich has been sailing since he was a little kid, and has been racing at the high school level for the past couple years. He loves sailing in dinghies, but gladly takes any opportunity he can get to sail keelboats, as they are the future in terms of sailing as an adult.

Liam Kennedy, Age 17
Liam Kennedy has been sailing since Optis in 2008 at Eastern YC, has competed in two previous NOOD regattas on J/70s, the AYC Sunday frostbite series on J/88, and sailed J/22s and J/24s on and J/70s in various local fleets. He is excited to sail in the 2016 NOODs here in Annapolis.

They’re not old enough, yet, however, to be given the keys to the Cadillac. Rather, Annapolis YC’s Sailing Director Jane Millman, will oversee the campaign. She will be on board to ensure the safe return of Dr. Alexander’s J/105 MORE COWBELLS!

“I chose sailors who I feel represent what the sport of sailing is about, a Corinthian spirit and willingness to learn in any situation,” says Millman. “By bringing different ages and skill levels together, we will have success in continuing to instill and foster a passion for keelboat sailing at a young age.”

The Helly Hansen Junior Crew is an initiative of the NOOD’s partner, Helly Hansen, which has been making gear for sports and work on the ocean and in the mountains since 1887. They dress world-class sailors, skiers and adventurers with full-protection gear, with the understanding that if you’re not comfortable, you’re not performing at your best. This is especially true on raceboats, so to be sure the Junior Crew are focused on sailing fast and competitive, they will be outfitted with proper Helly Hansen gear.

J/105s sailing AnnapolisWho will the kids be up against in the hot, nineteen-boat J/105 class on the Chesapeake Bay??  A rogue’s gallery of past NOOD regatta winners and podium finishers, that’s all!  Familiar names will be dueling for class honors, including Mark & Jolene Masur’s TWO FEATHERS from Fort Worth Boat Club in Texas, Jack Biddle’s familiar RUM PUPPY from Annapolis YC, Jim Konigsberg’s INIGO, Don Santa’s SANTAS REIGN DEAR, Carl & Scott Gitchell’s TENACIOUS and Andrew Kennedy’s BAT IV.

One of the J/105 skippers from Bermuda offered his perspective on the regatta. “We have learned to enjoy subjecting ourselves to the vagaries of the Chesapeake Bay,” says Bermuda-based skipper James Macdonald. “It’s always a challenge to sail well.”

Macdonald, skipper of the aptly-named, Bermuda-flagged J/105 DISTANT PASSION admits that the class isn’t as active as it once was, but maintains that there are still hotspots for regattas, including Annapolis. In Bermuda, says Macdonald, he generally races between six and eight other boats in their weeknight and weekend racing series. “In Annapolis, we see nearly twenty boats,” he says. “Those twenty are of high caliber as well. When it blows here, the racing gets interesting. When it’s lighter, the J/105 can be underpowered, but that’s when the tweaking and tactics come into play.”

After sailing his first J/105 from Bermuda to Key West Race Week and not enjoying the long haul, Macdonald purchased a second J/105 in 2009, DISTANT PASSION, exclusively for sailing events in North America, like the Annapolis NOOD. When not competing in Annapolis, Block Island, or even Ontario, DISTANT PASSION sits on a trailer in Annapolis, what Macdonald calls a good “jumping off point” for northeast regattas. Conveniently, then, the boat is already in place for this weekend’s competition.

The NOOD is a perfect event for he and his crew, says Macdonald, because the three-day event structure gives them enough time to make the trip worthwhile. Macdonald’s tactician, Jon Corless, also runs his own J/105 program in Bermuda, but the two combine forces for faraway regattas. They bring a variety of crew every year, another option made available by the characteristics of the J/105. “It’s easy to sail in some ways,” says Macdonald. “There are still enough controls for great variation among the fleet, but overall it’s a great way to get new keelboat sailors comfortable with the bigger boats.”

J/70 Wild Child sailing AnnapolisWith forty-three boats on the line, the J/70s will again be the largest fleet sailing in the regatta.  The top foreign team will be none other than 4x J/24 World Champion Mauricio Santa Cruz from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, sailing BRUSCHETTA.  He will be facing a formidable array of local talent as well as visitors from around the eastern seaboard.  Top teams like J/22 World Champion Al Terhune will be racing DAZZLER, along with other Chesapeake Bay area talents like Jenn & Ray Wulff’s JOINT CUSTODY, Jim Allsopp’s MOXIE, Geoff Becker’s PAPA WHEELIE, Dan & Gannon Troutman’s PIED PIPER, Tom Bowen’s REACH AROUND, Peter McChesney’s TROUBLE, and Henry Filter’s WILD CHILD.  Noteworthy out-of-town crews include Brian Keane’s MOJITO/SAVASANA (Buzzards Bay), Heather Gregg & Joe Bardenheier’s MUSE (Boston), Marty Mckenna’s RARITY (Youngstown), John Brim’s RIMETTE (Fisher’s Island), Will Welles (Maine/ Newport), Bruno Pasquinelli’s STAMPEDE (Forth Worth) and Nick & Bodo von der Wense (Wayne, PA).

J/22 sailing Annapolis NOODAlways a popular local fleet is the twenty-six boat J/22 class.  Having been on a winning streak lately, Mike Marshall’s BAD NEWS hopes to keep their podium finishes rolling.  Chasing them hard all weekend in the shifty stuff where their circle is located will be Jenn Gaffney’s COMMITTED/ PIRATE PRINCESS RACING TEAM, Julie  Mon’s HOT TICKET, Jeff Todd’s HOT TODDY, past J/22 World Champion Terry Flynn (Houston), Chris Doyle’s THE JUG 41 (Youngstown), and Brad Julian’s USA 677.

With seven boats, the once super hot J/24 class has dwindled in numbers but they still enjoy fun racing on the Bay.  Virtually all are local teams from Severn Sailing Association or Eastport YC, such as Peter Rich’s BUXTON, Bill Davenport’s JABB, Pat Fitzgerald’s RUSH HOUR or Pete Kassal’s SPACEMAN SPIFF.

Showing a resurgence in class activity in recent years has been a loyal group of local J/30 owners. Many of the boats have been spruced up quite nicely and look virtually good as news with fresh paint jobs, refinished interiors and new sails.  The refrigerators will be filled with cold “cervezas”, but the gloves will be off as the fleet goes to battle over the three days.  Several crews have had a go at each other over the years, including George Watson’s AVITA, Bob Rutsch & Mike Costello’s BEPOP, Pam Morris’ BUMP, Ron Anderson’s INSATIABLE and Tristan & Sheila Keen’s INFECTIOUS SMILE.

J/35 sailing Annapolis NOOD Another old classic that has seen a revival at previous Annapolis NOODs are the J/35s, with a nice half-dozen boat fleet led by a perennial class leader- Jim Sagerholm & Jerry Christofel’s AUNT JEAN.  Who will knock them off the top of the podium this year??  Certainly giving it a try will be Chuck Kohlerman’s MEDICINE MAN, Bruce Artman’s T-BONE and Masci/McGonigle’s WINDEPENDENT.

A strong showing of twenty-two J/80s will produce tight racing and tough mark roundings for this popular Bay class.  Participating will be a top five crew from the 2014 J/80 Worlds- Will & Marie Crump sailing R80 from Annapolis.  They will be chased by other Worlds Top 20 teams, like David Andril’s VAYU, John White’s USA 1162, Ken Mangano’s MANGO, Bert Carp’s ELEVEN, Chris & Liz Chadwick’s CHURCH KEY, Les Beckwith’s FKA and Bill Blank’s BLIND SQUIRREL.

J/111 Velocity sailing Annapolis NOODAfter braving wild conditions off Charleston Harbor for the Charleston Race Week Regatta, seven J/111s are looking forward to the “billiard-table-flat” waters of the Bay (at least compared to Gulf Stream-type breaking 10 footers offshore!).  The top three boats could very well include local champion Martie Roesch’s VELOCITY, Bennet Greenwald’s PERSEVERANCE crew from San Diego, CA, and Doug Curtiss’ WICKED 2.0 team from Buzzards Bay.  However, some stalking horses that could upset that apple cart may be David McCreight’s DARK HORSE or Jim Connelly’s SLUSH FUND.

The world of PHRF offshore racing includes the PHRF 50-75 fleet that looks more like the ninth J one-design class since it has four J/109s in a five-boat class!  So, without further ado, the J/109s are all fast boats, including Bob Schwartz’s NORDLYS from Long Island Sound, Francis Albert’s RESOLUTE from Manassas, VA, Rick Hanson’s ROSALITA from Avondale, PA and multiple class champion Bill Sweetser on the famous RUSH!

The North Sails Rally Race take place on Saturday only and they will be praying for breeze!  Hopefully, the big norther hangs around for a while.  Since it’s a pursuit race, the earlier starts may enjoy a bit of an advantage.  Nevertheless, all will certainly have fun on their “Bay Tour”.  Looking forward to that adventure are Paul & Sue Mikulski’s J/42 FULL CIRCLE, Bob Dymond’s J/29 GABRIELLE and Joe Laun’s J/110 LADY GREY.  Sailing photo credits- Paul Todd/ Outside ImagesSailing photo credits- Dan Phelps.  For more Helly Hansen Annapolis NOOD Regatta sailing information