2014 NOOD Caribbean Championship

The NOOD Caribbean Championship could very well be one of the toughest one-design regattas to win: put a cast of champions into a fleet of matched 44-foot charter boats and challenge them to race from island to island over the course of the week, battling each other, the sun, tricky winds, and pounding hangovers. Yes, consistency counts, but so, too, does perseverance. Come along as we take our NOOD champions nearly one hundred miles from the BVI's Road Town to The Bight.

Team St. Petersburg (Fisk Hayden, skipper) go for a timed approach to the starting line during the buoy-racing portion of the event, a three-race series on Sir Francis Drake Passage. With a committee boat favor, the race committee used dinghies for keep-aways.Paul Todd/Outside Images

Skippers' Bags

The Caribbean NOOD Championship is an event unlike any other. Individual winners from the respective Sperry Top-Sider NOOD regattas in St. Petersburg, San Diego, Seattle, Annapolis, Chicago, and Marblehead receive invitations to vie for the year’s overall championship title. New for 2014, organizers opened up the event to teams keen to take on the best-of-the-best from the NOOD series. With support from NOOD sponsors Sunsail (providing the boats), Gill (awards, duffels, and sunglasses), Ronstan (watches) and Mount Gay Rum, the skippers bags were far from ordinary.Paul Todd/Outside Images

The 2014 NOOD Carribbean Championship drew a diverse cast of characters. From San Diego were Gary Mozer’s entourage from the J/105 Current Obsession Pat Dore, the top J/24 entrant from Seattle filled his team ranks with family and friends; J/80 World Champion Brian Keane pulled in a youthful squad to represent the Annapolis NOOD (he won the J/70 class there). Steve Knoop, the top J/105 skipper from the Chicago NOOD brought his wife and tapped Chicago Tartan 10 sailor and part-time BVI resident Dave Hansen to pull the ropes. The double-family squad from Marblehead’s Rhodes 19 fleet was led by Dave Nelson, who hopped his Opti son’s talent would do him right in the regatta’s dingy races. Filling in for St. Petersburg winner as an open invitee was past championship competitor and San Juan 21 skipper Fisk Hayden. Dr. Jim Sears, a Viper 640 champion from San Diego and 2013 NOOD championship runner-up, returned, vowing to win the regatta and the party. And the lone wildcard of the regatta was Antigua Sailing Week champion Coleman Garvey, of Cork, Ireland, looking for serious competitive fun in the sun.Paul Todd/Outside Images

Rise and shine. At 0700, Sailing World editor Dave Reed (at right, standing) briefs the NOOD Championship’s eight teams at the Sunsail base in Wickham’s Cay, Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. On the week’s agenda is a day of buoy racing, followed by four days of inter-island sprints and nightly parties.Paul Todd/Outside Images

Clearing out for clean air, Gary Mozer’s California crew heads out to the favored right side, away from traffic, to win the first race of the series.Paul Todd/Outside Images

With winds averaging 10 knots throughout the week, and the water balmy and blue, the BVIs delivered a perfect venue for racing and relaxing.Paul Todd/Outside Images

After a heated day of buoy racing, the NOOD regatta dropped into the Cooper Island Beach Club for cold beverages and a bit of Caribbean bar karate. Team Viper's mothership (at right) lit up for the night draws sailors like moth to the flame.Paul Todd/Outside Images

Before the championship’s first distance race, from The Baths on Virgin Gorda to the Bitter End YC in Virgin Gorda Sound, competitors were unleashed in the BVI’s boulder and pool-strewn tourist mecca. The experience of rambling through the granite boulders is always unique, especially for first-timers.Paul Todd/Outside Images

If only every race could start with a swim in a place so remarkable. A pre-race dip in The Baths on Virgin Gorda sets the right attitude for the day.Paul Todd/Outside Images

With the fleet of eight Sunsail 44i’s assembled at the Bitter End YC, competitors enjoyed a lay day on the island, allowing them to play in BEYC’s Hobie Waves and Getaways. Some teams escaped to nearby Anegada or kitesurfed on the eastern side.Paul Todd/Outside Images

After a four-hour race to Bitter End YC from The Baths, competitors immediately switch into dinghy mode, with each team sending one capable Laser sailor to the dinghy-racing portion of the regatta (weighted at 10 percent of a team’s final score).Paul Todd/Outside Images

Gary Mozer’s dinghy ace drew the short tiller, which didn’t help his cause in the Laser racing portion at Bitter End YC, but he didn't stand a chance against Brian Keane's ace Thomas Barrows, a college All-American, singlehanded champion, and Olympic 49er campaigner who ran away with the races.Paul Todd/Outside Images

A lone competitor hunts from the port end of the line, looking for an entry into the committee boat pileup on the Bitter End YC’s dinghy course.Paul Todd/Outside Images

A few of Dr. Jim Sears’ Viper entourage head out to the dingy course to lend some support, and an occasional cold beer.Paul Todd/Outside Images

The championship’s second distance race takes the fleet from Virgin Gorda Sound to Sandy Cay, via a pit stop at Guana Island’s Monkey Point. After a hectic few laps inside the Sound, it’s a long and lazy 20-mile downwind battle that rewards jib-pole technique and wind-shadow awareness.Paul Todd/Outside Images

A proper beachside banquet at the Bitter End YC allows competitors to mix and plan for the scheduled lay day. Is it sail, surf, chill, or painkillers? Or is it all of the above?Paul Todd/Outside Images

After finishing off Sandy Cay near Jost van Dyke, competitors scattered to harbors on Jost. From the race committee's Sunsail 444 catamaran mothership. the view of storm clouds over the USVIs was a relaxing end to a long day and some respite before heading into Foxy's for Game 7 of the MLB World Series..Paul Todd/Outside Images
With a a scoreline 1-6-5-2-2-2-6, Gary Mozer's Current Obsession team won the 2014 NOOD Overall title, and with 16 people in the entourage, there were plenty of friends on hand to celebrate properly.Paul Todd/Outside Images
Jim Sears, second overall in 2013, returned with clear intentions of winning the Caribbean NOOD Championship. A very effective jib-pole system, a talented team, and support boat full of friends, he says made it all possible. His victory earned him a complimentary berth from Sunsail for the 2015 edition. Can he endure another year? We shall see.Paul Todd/Outside Images

British Virgin Islands The last event of the 2014 NOOD REGATTA SERIES October 25 – November 1, 2014 sponsored by Sunsail Sailing Vacations. Sunsail is providing Sunsail 44i’s from their charter fleet based in Road Town on Tortola, BVI. Race day 3 Distance race from Bitter End Yacht Club to Jost Van Dyke. ©Paul Todd/OUTSIDEIMAGES.COM OUTSIDE IMAGES PHOTO AGENCY©Paul Todd/OUTSIDEIMAGES.COM

After winning the distance race from Virgin Gorda to Guana Island’s Monkey Point, Coleman Garvey’s all-Irish squad created some exciting chaos in the day’s second distance race. The race committee called for an America’s Cup style racecourse with a reach-leg start, but with a last minute shift the reach became an upwind leg, with the Irish barely squeezing round the mark on port tack inches in front of all seven other competitors.Paul Todd/Outside Images

British Virgin Islands The last event of the 2014 NOOD REGATTA SERIES October 25 – November 1, 2014 sponsored by Sunsail Sailing Vacations. Sunsail is providing Sunsail 44i’s from their charter fleet based in Road Town on Tortola, BVI. Race day 3 Distance race from Bitter End Yacht Club to Jost Van Dyke. ©Paul Todd/OUTSIDEIMAGES.COM OUTSIDE IMAGES PHOTO AGENCY©Paul Todd/OUTSIDEIMAGES.COM

British Virgin Islands The last event of the 2014 NOOD REGATTA SERIES October 25 – November 1, 2014 sponsored by Sunsail Sailing Vacations. Sunsail is providing Sunsail 44i’s from their charter fleet based in Road Town on Tortola, BVI. Race day 3 Distance race from Bitter End Yacht Club to Jost Van Dyke. ©Paul Todd/OUTSIDEIMAGES.COM OUTSIDE IMAGES PHOTO AGENCY©Paul Todd/OUTSIDEIMAGES.COM

There’s no better place to kick back and rehash a long day of racing than floating off the beaches of Sandy Cay, beer in hand.Paul Todd/Outside Images

British Virgin Islands The last event of the 2014 NOOD REGATTA SERIES October 25 – November 1, 2014 sponsored by Sunsail Sailing Vacations. Sunsail is providing Sunsail 44i’s from their charter fleet based in Road Town on Tortola, BVI. Race day 3 Distance race from Bitter End Yacht Club to Jost Van Dyke. ©Paul Todd/OUTSIDEIMAGES.COM OUTSIDE IMAGES PHOTO AGENCY©Paul Todd/OUTSIDEIMAGES.COM

The short, but intense final race from Sandy Cay to The Bight on Norman Island is always a nail biter getting through Great Thatch Cut on the western end of Tortola. The racecourse compress to a couple hundred fleet and the current runs counter at two knots. This year competitors lucked out with a surprise southwesterly, making it an easy passage.Paul Todd/Outside Images

Dave Nelson's all-family squad from Massachusetts included a few lucky teenagers playing hooky for the week, studying instead the wind patterns, geography, and culture of the Virgin Islands. As first-time tropical snorkelers they exclaimed they felt as though they were inside the Boston Aquarium.Paul Todd/Outside Images

British Virgin Islands The last event of the 2014 NOOD REGATTA SERIES October 25 – November 1, 2014 sponsored by Sunsail Sailing Vacations. Sunsail is providing Sunsail 44i’s from their charter fleet based in Road Town on Tortola, BVI. Race day 4 starting at Sandy Cay and finishing at Norman Island. ©Paul Todd/OUTSIDEIMAGES.COM OUTSIDE IMAGES PHOTO AGENCY©Paul Todd/OUTSIDEIMAGES.COM

British Virgin Islands The last event of the 2014 NOOD REGATTA SERIES October 25 – November 1, 2014 sponsored by Sunsail Sailing Vacations. Sunsail is providing Sunsail 44i’s from their charter fleet based in Road Town on Tortola, BVI. Race day 4 starting at Sandy Cay and finishing at Norman Island. ©Paul Todd/OUTSIDEIMAGES.COM OUTSIDE IMAGES PHOTO AGENCY©Paul Todd/OUTSIDEIMAGES.COM

For the final race and ultimate victory lap for Jim Sears’ Team Viper, they loaded the rail with ladies from their mothership, which proved to be a wise move all around. Here, they power into the finish in The Bight.Paul Todd/Outside Images

For the final races skipper Brian Keane handed over the ship to his young crew; here they sail into The Bight with a fourth-place finish on the day and overall.Paul Todd/Outside Images