Annapolis Sailors Set For Season Opener with the NOOD

With an impressive new sailing center to host local and visiting teams, the Annapolis Yacht Club prepares for the onslaught of NOOD sailors next week.

J/22 fleet
The venerable J/22 fleet in Annapolis guarantees close racing on the near-shore course. The J/22s return for the 2019 Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta.Paul Todd/Outside Images/NOOD

The Annapolis Yacht Club will host nearly 200 teams from the Chesapeake Bay region and afar as they race for top honors in 14 individual classes of boats. One-design racing is held in identical boats, placing success at the hands of the sailors. As the first major regatta of the Chesapeake's 2019 season, teams returning experienced from southern winter regattas have an advantage.

Ian Hill, of Chesapeake, Virginia, a skipper in the J/111 fleet, is relatively new to one-design racing, but used the NOOD's Florida event in February to gain more experience. "These NOOD events are a big draw," says Hill. "The last one we did, in St. Petersburg [Florida], was incredible. And now, having such a big one-design regatta in our home waters means a lot." Hill's crew consists of college friends, all Chesapeake sailors. "We've been having the time of our lives out here," says Hill. "This series allows us to travel to different venues around the country. It doesn't get much better than this."

Each event, technical sailing apparel company and title sponsor, Helly Hansen, provides for one or two youth team entries. One of this year’s teams consists of Josh Becker, Emma Sneed, Lucien Parker, Dylan Saxman, guided by coach Geoff Becker of the Severn Sailing Association and racing in the highly competitive J/70 class. “These guys are all still in high school, so the learning curve will be high,” Becker says. “My goal is to be as much of a spectator as possible. The more the team can handle the boat by themselves, the better.”

Josh Becker, of Arnold, Maryland, says he’s crewed for his father often, but adds, “It will be fun to be in control of the team and learn the new boat. It’s great having the NOOD come to Annapolis because we get to sail against people we know. There’s plenty of high school kids in other fleets, so everyone will get a chance to sail.” A second Helly Hansen Junior Crew will be racing in the J/80 fleet.

At each of the NOOD series' five regattas, organizers select one overall challenger to compete in the Helly Hansen NOOD Caribbean Championship in October. Thomas Kopp, a J/80 class skipper from Detroit, MI, aims to repeat his championship challenge. "Annapolis is a beautiful place to sail," says Kopp. "It's always fun being in a place with such a high awareness for the sport."

Kopp and his teammates were the second-best J/80 in the 2018 NOOD, so they’re looking to win their class this time. “We were very proud of our finish last year. Annapolis has one of the deepest J/80 fleets in the country, and it can get pretty unforgiving out there. So we’ll need to pull out everything this year to do well.”