Keelboat Racing on Eastern Seaboard
It's not just the unpredictable weather which can dish out fickle seabreezes, fronts that bring strong winds from the north, or a mix of each extreme - it's also the players. Some 220 boats from Australia, Canada, and throughout the United States are expected for the three day event that mixes out-of-town talent with local legends.
"It's a time when you see who shows up, whose programs are organized. But coming early in the season, some crews will not have hit their stride yet," said Peter Schellie, a competitor in the J/105 class.
In short, it's a regatta that can be anyone's game.
Currently, 13 classes had qualified with enough entries to have their own one-design start and a total of 17 classes have been invited to compete (the deadline for classes to form is Monday, April 22). The Annapolis YC will be assisted by Eastport Yacht Club and the Storm Trysail Club of the Chesapeake.
Alec Cutler will return to defend his win in the J/105 class, which is expected to be one of the largest classes in the event. Cutler topped the 30-boat class in 2001 in a close points series. Although he was new to the boat last year, he won over half the events he raced in. But according to Cutler, crew work was their biggest challenge: last season was a process of taking a group of dinghy sailors and learning to tame the J/105's powerful asymmetrical spinnaker.
The Etchells class will join the Annapolis NOOD for the first time. The Etchells is raced throughout the world and is the popular choice for America's Cup champions and other world class racers but a local Annapolis fleet took root only this season.
The NOOD will draw notables such as 1998 Etchells World Champion Dirk Kneulman and Jud Smith, who as crew has been a multiple Etchells Worlds winner. A fleet of some 25 to 30 boats is expected.
Ranking among the largest classes will be the J/22 keelboat, which has the potential to reach 40 boats. At present sailors from the Chesapeake and the Great Lakes are entered. The NOOD is a major springtime regatta for J/22 racers ramping up their campaigns for the J/22 Worlds, to be held this Autumn in Texas.
In addition to the above-mentioned classes, the following fleets are working their way to the starting line of the Annapolis NOOD: Alberg 30 (competing for the Maple Leaf Trophy), Cal 25, Catalina 27, Henderson 30, J/24, J/29, J/30, J/35, J/80, Melges 24, Mumm 30 (the NOOD is part of their North American circuit), Pearson 30, and S2 7.9.
For the well-honed crews in the J/24 class, which expects a field of some 20 to 25 boats, the unpredictable conditions that could visit the Chesapeake in early May only add to the fun of this regional contest. As local racer Peter Rich says, "Everyone has a chance in those conditions. It's not just a speed contest. When it's unpredictable, yes, it's skill. But there is also that element of luck".
Annapolis NOOD prizes will be awarded Sunday evening, May 5, after the conclusion of racing. Trophies will be awarded in individual classes, and the top performer on opening day will receive a special fleet trophy, the Hall Spars & Rigging Boat of the Day Award.