Even as an experienced sailor, Peter McChesney said that racing the J/70 gives him a different kind of thrill.
The 223/4-foot boat, the newest design of Rhode Island-based J/Boats, which began building its line in the late 1970s, will be the most popular entry in the prestigious Annapolis National Offshore One-Design (NOOD) Regatta Series, which will be held Friday through next Sunday.
The third leg of the six-race series is expected to attract an estimated 1,000 sailors, with the top prize being a trip to the Top-Sider NOOD Regatta Championship in the British Virgin Islands in November. The race winner will be determined in Annapolis, based on the number of boats in the most competitive class.
McChesney, who has won the NOOD regatta in Annapolis four times, three times on a J/22 (2000, 2003, 2005) and once on a J/105 in 2010, will race a J/70 with regular sailing partners Shane Zwingelberg and Scott Snyder.
A former All-America sailor at St. Mary's in the mid-1980s, the 48-year-old McChesney said that if the wind kicks up even a little next weekend on the Chesapeake Bay, those racing the J/70s will be in for quite a ride.
Sailing World magazine selected the J/70 as its 2013 Boat of the Year.
"I'm attracted to it for its performance," McChesney said. "Downwind, if you go out on a windy day, it would be as thrilling as an amusement park ride. They're planing boats. Like powerboats, when you start slow and then start going faster, the boat kind of lifts up and gets on top of the water. These boats plane relatively quickly.
"If you turn the tiller, it's like turning the steering wheel on a car. It's very refined steering. They go probably a lot faster than you would think. A lot of boats go 5 or 6 knots, which is less than 10 miles an hour. These boats will go 20 to 25 miles an hour, and they probably seem faster when you're on them."
While those racing in the Annapolis NOOD regatta are typically experienced sailors, McChesney said that "a beginner can sail these boats." But he cautions that because the J/70 is a "high-performance boat," a relatively inexperienced sailor should take it slow.
"It's like driving a car in snow. If you haven't driven in those conditions, you're going to slip and slide," he said.
While there are going to be as many as "10 to 20" other classes of boats in the regatta, the J/70 is expected to have the most.
"It's a lot more fun to race against 20 or 50 or 100 boats than it is six," McChesney said. "They've had years when they've had very big fleets for different reasons — they had the J/22 world championships in Annapolis, and they had 80 to 100 boats, and one year they had J/105s because they were having the North American championships later in the year."
For more information on the race, go to sailingworld.com/nood-regattas/annapolis