After the final day of the Helly Hansen National Offshore One Design (NOOD) Regatta at Marblehead Race Week on Sunday, J/70 class winners John and Molly Baxter took home the overall prize. In addition to new gear from Helly Hansen, the crew earned a berth in the championship regatta, hosted by Sunsail in the British Virgin Islands Oct. 22-29.
The Riverside, Conn.-based couple is fairly new to J/70s, having owned their boat for less than two years. They decided to compete in the Helly Hansen Marblehead NOOD to train for the class world championship, which will be held in Marblehead in 2018 and which they officially qualified for by winning this event.
“We wanted to check out the spot, and we heard there were a lot of good teams out here,” John Baxter said. “It was fun. We definitely got the lay of the land.”
The Baxters, along with crew members Jake LaDow and Luke Lawrence, held strong at the top of the fleet from the very beginning, winning two of three races on the first day. From there, it was all about consistency, good starts and conservative sailing, according to John Baxter.
While Baxter said the team’s biggest takeaway was figuring out how to balance the boat going upwind, Lawrence, the tactician, went on to say that the team is making huge strides in their training program for worlds.
“There’s a big checklist to make sure that you’re set up to be able to go out there and have a shot,” Lawrence said. “To come here to a venue like this early on and to excel against a majority of our good competition in the U.S., I mean – it’s nice. But along with everything that comes with that, we’ve learned ten-fold how to come in to the next event.”
Looking ahead, the crew plans to return to Marblehead next summer leading into the world championship after training their way down to Florida and back.
Also in the J/70 class, the Helly Hansen Junior Crew—a team of five local youth sailors specially selected to compete in the regatta—finished 12th of 30 boats.
Of the other nine classes competing in the regatta, two winners were local Marblehead sailors: Bruce Dyson on the International One Design (IOD) Gypsy and Charlie Garrard on Merlin in the J/105 fleet.
Garrard, who was also the recipient of Sunday’s North Sails Boat of the Day and the Cressy Award said the key to his success this weekend was having his teenage kids, Emily (pit) and Jack (bow), onboard.
“Without them it wouldn’t happen,” Garrard said. “Together, we make it work.”
The was the fifth and final stop of the 2017 Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta Series. In addition to winners from each of the five NOOD events this year, interested sailors can charter and compete against the overall winners at the championship.
Regatta organizers determine the overall winner based on the strongest individual finish in the most competitive class. The J/70 fleet was the largest of the weekend and completed seven races in three days.