Organizers completed multiple races for most classes on Saturday as the Annapolis stop of the Helly Hansen National Offshore One-Design series finally got underway.
Jeff Todd was among several Annapolis-area skippers that performed well in the challenging conditions with 20-knot winds greeting the fleet of 153 boats in 12 classes.
Todd steered Hot Toddy to victory in two of four races held in J/22 class, which has attracted 15 entries. Todd’s team added a second and third to total seven points, six fewer than Brad Julian on Yard Sail.
Winds faded and shifted as the day went along, forcing crews to consistently change gears. Annapolis professional Mike Beasley was winner of the North Sails Doublehanded Distance Race that took nine boats on a 20-nautical mile course around government marks on the Chesapeake Bay.
Beasley steered his GP 26 Rattle-N-Rum to victory on both elapsed and corrected time, crossing the line in 3:19:54. He beat Problem Child, a BC 27 owned by Ron Katz, by just under 21 minutes after handicaps were factored in.
Chris Conway is crewing for Beasley, who said the race started off Greenbury Point with a run to 88A, blast reach down the bay to 84A, a beat back to Thomas Point with the last leg a tight reach to the finish line set near 88A.
“We knew we had to make our gains downwind, so we pushed pretty hard,” Beasley said. “We had two jibes into the bottom mark and there was a bit of indecision on my part on what sails to use on the reach down the Eastern Shore, but we eventually got it all sorted and played the shifts aggressively on the beat back toward Thomas Point Light. We knew the 40-footers were coming at us pretty hard but were able to get the right sail combination up for the reach.”
Beasley had never raced the boat doublehanded in strong breeze as he normally has a crew of five or six. He is planning to do more shorthanded racing in the future and Saturday provided valuable practice.
“We had some systems sorted out, but this is a new level of sailing the boat,” he said. “Today, it was about the old saying: to finish first, first we have to finish. That was the primary goal.”
Annapolis Yacht Club member Tony Parker and the Bangor Packet crew put forth an impressive performance, winning all four races in J/24 class. Parker is six points ahead of Spaceman Spiff, sailed by Pete Kassal.
As usual, J/70 is the largest class in the regatta with a whopping 40 boats. Quantum professional Travis Odenbach steered Honeybadger to victory in two of three races to take a two-point lead on Jenn Wulff, who has renowned professional Terry Hutchinson aboard as tactician.
Most of the J/70 teams are using the Annapolis NOOD as a warm-up for the North American Championships, being held off Annapolis starting next Sunday.
“The course today was right favored, but then left toward the top of the beat,” Odenbach said. “We had to get on port as soon as possible. In the first race, we had a terrible start, ducked a few boats right away and popped out. No one tacked on us so we were pretty much clear up the rest of the course.”
Other Annapolis-area skippers leading their classes after the first day of racing included Patrick Seidel (Laughing Gull, Alberg 30), Jose Fuentes (Caramba, Etchells), Bob Rutsch and Mike Costello (Bebop, J/30), Abientot (Roger Lant, J/35).
Sailing World Magazine organizes the National Offshore One-Design Series, which has other stops in such locales as St. Petersburg, Florida,, Chicago and San Diego. Racing in Annapolis was supposed to start Friday but was canceled due to forecasts for gale force winds.
“We were seeing sustained 27 knots at Thomas Point,” said Kevin Reeds, race committee chairman for Annapolis Yacht Club. “The spikes were getting consistently higher, and the waves were already three to four feet.”