2017 Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta St. Petersburg: The Final Day

Light winds skunked all but one circle for the last of racing, but for those who did race, the contest was a brutal test of patience.

The first event of the 2017 Helly Hansen National Offshore One Design (NOOD) Regatta wrapped in St. Petersburg on Sunday. After a weekend of close competition in the Lightning division, the class winner — Steve Hayden, 49, of Lake Mary, Fla. — was awarded the regatta’s overall prize.

Hayden and teammate David Hood had sailed together in the past, but this weekend was their first time back together in the boat after many years. It was also their first time racing with their third teammate, Amy Simenson. When the wind didn’t fill in until after noon, the team on “Gen5,” which was sitting in third place going into the final race, had one chance to push into the top spot. They took the lead early into the first downwind leg, but other teams did their best to close the gap up until the very last inches of the race.

“Laura and Will Jeffers [on “I’d Rather Be Lucky”] kept making the biggest gains downwind, and they actually got ahead of us on the final run,” Hayden said. “We beat them by a boatlength at the finish.”

Hayden comes from a long line of Lightning class sailors. As Overall Winner, he will represent the St. Petersburg regatta at the Helly Hansen Caribbean NOOD Championship Regatta presented by Sunsail in the British Virgin Islands this October, just as his father did several years ago. “I’ve grown up in this class, and my kids are fifth generation Lightning sailors,” said Hayden. “That’s why the boat is called ‘Gen5.’ It’s just a big family.”

The Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta brings national and international talent to compete against local sailors on their home waters. The competition was tight this year, with many ties across the 154-boat regatta, and only one local skipper beat out the visitor teams to land at the top of his class: Jim Lindsay in the small but competitive J/24 fleet.

A stand-out performance of the weekend came from Paralympic silver medalist Rick Doerr, of Clifton, N.J., and his crew on the Sonar “Valiant.” “We kept it as consistent as possible, which I think gave us a huge advantage,” Doerr said. “There were a couple of times when the racing was really close and boats were gaining on us, but we were very patient and everyone was doing their jobs. We were really impressed with our ability to get right back into the groove of things, having been away from it since September.”

Doerr’s tactician, Brad Kendall, is a Clearwater, Florida, native who is used to sailing on Tampa Bay. He commented that the team had fun despite tricky weather this weekend and added that it’s “always a good feeling” to win on his home turf.

In the J/70 class, first place winner Peter Bowe, of Baltimore, Md., echoed Doerr’s remarks about the importance of aggressive gear shifting in the shifty weather. The “Tea Dance Snake” skipper typically competes in the Corinthian (professional) level, but with some of his team missing this week, he opted to learn a few new tricks from a hired coach, Jackson Benvenutti.

“He obviously upped our game,” Bowe said, laughing. “We’ve been sailing a long time, but this time we were faster and had better starts. This was our best performance in major regatta.”

Also sailing in the J/70s was a group of five local teenagers who were specially selected to compete in the fleet in the Helly Hansen Junior Crew. The teens held their own against a large, talented fleet, landing near the middle at 17th place.

Top-Three Results Sonar (One Design - 6 Boats) 1. Valiant, Sonar, Rick Doerr, Clifton, NJ, USA, 1 -1 -2 -1 -1 ; 6 2. Shamrock, Sonar, John Twomey, Cork, Cork, IRL, 2 -2 -1 -2 -5 ; 12 3. Pingrrrrr, Sonar, Susan Davidson, Palmetto, FL, USA, 3 -5 -6 -3 -2 ; 19

J 24 (One Design - 5 Boats) 1. Sight Seeing, J 24, Jim Lindsay, St. Petersburg, FL, USA, 1 -5 -1 -1 -2 ; 10 2. Shock Wave, J 24, Seth Rosenthal, Crystal Beach, FL, USA, 2 -1 -2 -2 -3 ; 10 3. Woodjchuck, J 24, Nathan Bresett , Belleville, Ont, CAN, 4 -3 -3 -3 -1 ; 14

A Cats Classic (One Design - 18 Boats) 1. ShackAttack, A-Cat DNA, Ken Marshack, Ridgefield, WA, USA, 2 -1 ; 3 2. Barracuda , A Cat, Craig Yandow, Clearwaterr, FL, USA, 1 -2 ; 3 3. 294, A Class, Stevens Richard, Hoschton, GA, USA, 3 -6 ; 9

A Cats Foiling (One Design - 20 Boats) 1. Tug Life, A-Class Foiling, Matthew Keenan, Highlands, NJ, USA, 1 -2 ; 3 2. el Presidente, A Cat, Bailey White, Atlanta, GA, USA, 5 -1 ; 6 3. Flight Path East, DNA, Andy Kol , Santa Cruz, CA, USA, 3 -3 ; 6

A Cats (One Design - 38 Boats) 1. Tug Life, Matthew Keenan, USA, 2 -2 ; 4 2. Barracude, Craig Yandow, USA, 1 -8 ; 9 3. ShackAttack, Ken Marshack, USA, 3 -6 ; 9

J 70 (One Design - 32 Boats) 1. Tea Dance Snake, J 70, Peter Bowe, Baltimore, MD, USA, 1 -7 -1 -4 ; 13 2. Savasana, J 70, Brian Keane, Weston, MA, USA, 3 -2 -2 -6 ; 13 3. Powerplay Racing, J 70, Peter Cunningham, Grand Cayman, CAY, 11 -4 -14 -3 ; 32

Melges 24 (One Design - 10 Boats) 1. MiKEY, Melges 24, Kevin Welch, Anacortes, WA, USA, 6 -1 -1 -1 ; 9 2. Shaka, Melges 24, C: KC Shannon, Fayetteville, GA, USA, 1 -3 -2 -5 ; 11 3. Firewater, Melges 24, George Haynie, Tampa, FL, USA, 2 -2 -4 -3 ; 11

S 2 7.9 (One Design - 6 Boats) 1. Rebel496, S2 7.9, John Spierling, Shelby Twp, MI, USA, 1 -1 -1 -3 ; 6 2. Matros , S2 7.9, Tom Bryant, Holland, MI, USA, 2 -2 -4 -2 ; 10 3. none, S2 7.9, Paul Latour, Old Hickory, TN, USA, 5 -5 -2 -1 ; 13

Flying Tiger 7.5 (One Design - 6 Boats) 1. 10 - Stripes, Flying Tiger 7.5, Kathy Kushner, Oakville, Ont, CAN, 1 -2 -5 -1 ; 9 2. 01 Accessibi-iT, Flying Tiger 7.5, Ed Weisgerber, Pittsburgh, PA, USA, 2 -1 -2 -4 ; 9 3. 06, Flying Tiger 7.5, Chuck Norton, Oakville, Ont, CAN, 4 -3 -3 -2 ; 12

ORC (ORC - 10 Boats) 1. Deviation, J88, Iris Vogel, USA, 1 -2 -4 -2 ; 9 2. Warrior, Tripp 38, Grant Dumas, USA, 3 -3 -2 -1 ; 9 3. Semper Fi, J 29, Raymond Mannix, USA, 2 -1 -3 -4 ; 10

PHRF 1 (PHRF - 11 Boats) 1. Raven, Farr 30, Mike Kayusa, Ft. Myers, FL, USA, 1 -2.5 -5 -2 ; 10.5 2. Warrior, Tripp 38, Grant Dumas, St. Petersburg, FL, USA, 5 -4 -2 -1 ; 12 3. Deviation , J 88, Iris Vogel, New Rochelle, NY, USA, 3 -2.5 -6 -3 ; 14.5

PHRF 2 (PHRF - 9 Boats) 1. Semper Fi, J 29, Raymond Mannix, Largo, FL, USA, 1 -1 -1 -2 ; 5 2. Meltemi, S2 9.1, Alexander Korakis, Tampa, FL, USA, 2 -2 -3 -1 ; 8 3. Fully Involved, B-25, Steve Vincent, Tampa, FL, USA, 3 -3 -4 -3 ; 13