North Sails LOFT NEWS
FINISHING THE CIRCUIT ON A HIGH NOTE
Crews Battle It Out In Competitive One Design Heats & Tricky Currents
The Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta at Marblehead Race Week was the final event on the 2019 NOOD race circuit before the Caribbean Championship in the fall, and it did not disappoint. Light air at times and challenging currents had over 170 teams fighting it out in the blistering heat at one of New England’s most idyllic summer destinations.
Kicking off the event, North Sails experts hosted a Local Knowledge panel on Thursday evening at Boston Yacht Club. Led by JB Braun, North’s Director of Design & Engineering and one of the world’s leading sail designers, the North team set out to provide useful tips and insight for the weekend of sailing. Combining weather forecasts, tidal trends and their experience of racing in the area, Norths experts laid out their goals for the regatta, what to look out for on the water, and how they would be navigating the set courses. Joining JB Braun on the panel was local expert Alex Cook and One Design World Champion Mike Marshall. Alex, based in the North loft in Salem joined the North Sails team in May 2019 and brings a wealth of local knowledge to the Northeast team.
Temperatures topping 85 degrees added an extra layer of pressure to crews over the 10 One Design fleets. Wind conditions varied throughout three days–8-12 knots Friday from the East, 12-15 knots on Saturday from the ESE, 5-10 knots on Sunday from the SSE–a 1.5-knot current ripped across the course every single race, varying in strength and direction.
Taking advice from the North Sails Local Knowledge briefing, held on Thursday at BYC, many crews watched the lobster buoys to learn as much as they could to use the current to their advantage. Many fleets had trouble crossing the line, and on Sunday, three fleets in a row had the left-most boat hit the pin, and most struggled to cross the line on starboard. At the beginning of the day, the current ran right to left, making layline calls relevant. Many teams found the key to a successful beat was short-tacking the port layline. Those boats that tacked on the layline from far out ended up overstanding the windward mark. For the boats tacking short of it, they ended up right on the layline by the time they reached the top-end of the course. As the current flooded, this made speed and time off the line crucial.
“It was an atypical Marblehead NOOD in the sense that there was good breeze all three days, no drifters or Nor’Easters. However, it was typical Marblehead conditions, on the Halfway Rock Line, with the left side of the course being favored early in the sea breeze direction, along with the current running and affecting lay-lines. We also saw the usual chop/swell off axis from the breeze, making it much more challenging for skippers on one tack versus the other.”
Alex Cook, North Sails Salem
Day one and three of the regatta where the wind was lighter, being in pressure paid off more than being on the lifted tack, so teams did not tack too much. At some points, it paid off, and gains were made by managing the fleet, and sailing on a header to match the other boats because there was more pressure. Trying to stay on the tack pointed directly at the mark (or jibe) also benefited certain teams.
Speaking on managing the courses, North Sails Hillary Noble, tactician onboard the J/24 Sea Bags, had the following observations: “Downwind laylines were just as crucial as upwind. Tacking short of the layline upwind allowed us to get ahead of those who waited, as they were overstanding by the time they reached the top. Not jibing too early at the offset helped us by being one lane further downwind. The boats that jibed right away ended up fighting eachother to stay high, sailing more distance, an we were able to stay away from that. The current was strong, coming in for the better part of each day and was constantly pushing us away from the gates as the course was skewed. Jibing later for the gate, coming in with speed, and rounding the mark that had most pressure kept us clear ahead and allowed us to keep our speed for the mark rounding.”
“The entire time all I could think about was our boat speed. Our North Sails FR-2 spinnaker was a main contributor to our speed off the wind and allowed us to stay ahead of the fleet.”
North Sails client Bruce Stone & Nicole Breault on J/105 Good Trade took the win in their class, never leaving the top three positions in all nine races over the weekend. The 2.4m class saw North clients claim 1st and 2nd on the podium, with Charles Rosenfield on 2.4mr (Para) taking the win followed closely by Theodore Green on Magic Bus.
North Sails JB Braun seemed to take heed of his own advice as he claimed six bullets out of nine races, winning the Laser class. In the J/70 Corinthian class, Brian Keane and his crew onboard Savasana finished on top of the leaderboard, adding to Brians many regatta victories over the years, including the J/70 U.S Winter Series and a second place at the 2017 J/70 World Championships.
Full results from the Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta at Marblehead Race Week can be found here.