Race clips Brooke captured from the media boat and interview with George Brengle, Executive Director of NOOD racing
Marblehead Junior Race Week (MJRW) had just ended. The lively hordes of Opti, O'pec Bic, Laser, and 420 sailors had departed. By any logic, this should have signaled a period of comparative quiet on the banks of Marblehead Harbor.
The dinghy trailers had scarcely left the yard at Eastern Yacht Club when a steady caravan of Etchells, Sonars, J-24's, Rhodes 19's, Viper 640's and other classes began to stream in. The Sailing-World-organized Sperry Top-Sider 2011 Marblehead NOOD Regatta was here. The younger kids had left, and the older kids had arrived.
The Marblehead NOOD is essentially MJRW with cooler toys, post-racing cocktails, and equal amounts of fun. The NOOD (which stands for National Offshore One-Design) regatta circuit spans the whole breadth of the country, starting in St. Petersburg, and heading to San Diego, Annapolis, Seattle, Detroit, Chicago, and San Francisco, before finally ending up in Marblehead, where the US SAILING Roadshow joined in the action for a day. Many view one-design sailing as the purest form of the sport. Excuses are always easy to come up with in any athletic endeavor ("Their boat is faster in light air"...."We have a terrible PHRF rating"...."The Wind Gods just hate us.") but in one-design sailing, most boat-related advantages are nullified. It all comes down to who crosses the finish line first.
Any one-design class can petition for its own seperate starting sequence at a NOOD event. All that is required is a decent number of entries. For big-boat class associations, there are few easier ways to add quality racing time to the summer schedule than getting a fleet organized for a NOOD event. Plus, having so many other classes racing nearby raises the level of visual spectacle and fun present at the event, and allows sailors of many different disciplines to mingle and exchange ideas.
I was lucky enough to be drafted at the last minute as guest tactician and spinnaker trimmer onboard Ben Steinberg's aptly-named "Mongoose," a Viper 640. With my dinghy racing background, I could not have been more at home on the powered-up, quick-to-plane, and agile Viper. The class has been steadily gaining steam for the past few years, and shows no sign of slowing down. After a day of hard racing, it was easy to see why.
The Viper simply came alive in the 12-15 knots and 2-foot swells that we were spoiled with in Marblehead. As soon as we rounded the windward mark, the boat took off like a shot. Hiking straps were definitely key, even downwind. The big asymmetrical chute made trimming simple and fun, and at one point we hit 13.2 knots downwind. Not bad at all.
Solid starts, and figuring out the current pattern early, allowed us to post 3rd place finishes in each of the three races we sailed that day. The 19-boat fleet was competitive, and remarkably generous and with their heard-earned knowledge. Viper crews compared rigging tips and tricks after each days' racing, and both jokes and compliments were plentiful. In short, the atmosphere is everything you hope to find in a racing class. "Corinthian Spirit" is a term that also comes to mind.
If you are a even a casual one-design sailor, and are looking to have a great time while increasing your racing skills, the NOOD regattas are a fantastic option. Keep an eye on the Sailing World Magazine website for details about next year's circuit.