Optimal conditions on San Diego Bay made for a solid first day of racing at the Helly Hansen National Offshore One Design (NOOD) Regatta on Friday. This is the second of five stops in the nation's largest and longest-running sailboat racing circuit, now in its 30th season.
Nearly half of the regatta’s entrants participated on the first day of racing and the rest will join for races Saturday and Sunday. In the J/70 fleet, the largest of the weekend, local sailmaker and professional sailor Chris Snow and the crew aboard Cool Story, Bro lead the fleet with 11 points after three races.
Snow credits a conservative approach and good boatspeed to his team's early success in a traditionally competitive fleet.
"The rule of thumb is you can't win the regatta on the first day, but you can lose it," Snow said. "Sailboat racing is a game of risk versus rewards, and the best strategy is to not take a big risk at the start [of each race] and let your boat speed do the work for you. So our strategy was to have a good solid day and not make any mistakes."
Despite shifty conditions for the first race of the day, team Cool Story, Bro placed first. The wind strengthened for the following two races. Snow said the favorable conditions make it easier for his team to "to get out in front, which takes a little bit of the stress out."
With seventh- and third-place finishes in the following races, Snow leads his class by a single point. The J/70s are laden with top sailos and, according to Snow, it's still anyone's game.
"This fleet is very competitive, and that makes it fun for everybody. If you finish in the top 10, it's an accomplishment."
That perspective bodes well for the Santa Barbara Yacht Club (SBYC) Youth Team, a crew of high school-aged sailors participating in the regatta. The youth team is currently placed ninth in a class full of veterans and pros. Echoing Snow's strategic insight, SBYC's tactician Payne Donaldson, 16, said his team's game plan is to "go fast, sail conservatively and start well."
After an impressive second-place finish during the first race, Donaldson’s teammates faced a few "communication and boat set-up" issues in the day’s second race. "But we came back with sixth place during the third race, so it was a good day. We sorted out the problems we needed to."
As one of three youth teams in the J/70 fleet, the young sailors are sailing to qualify for the US J/70 Youth Championship this fall, defending the club's 2017 title.
"We picked this event because it's one of the closest qualifying events and one of the first," said crewmember Caden Schivlauer, 16. "The team was here last year and we know this venue pretty well, so it just felt natural to come back."
In the Viper 640 class, the regatta's other marque sportboat fleet, Jeff Grange and his team on Venom — who, like Cool Story, Bro, lead their fleet by one point going into day two — carried on the theme of a calculated start to the weekend.
"Our mindset going into Day one is that you can't win the regatta the first day, but you can certainly lose it," Grange said, echoing Chris Snow almost verbatim. "So we just wanted to make sure we had no major errors and didn't give anyone leverage against us."
The Helly Hansen National Offshore One Design Regatta in San Diego continues through March 18.
J 70 (One Design - 24 Boats)
1. Cool Story Bro, J 70, Snow/ Brigden , San Diego, CA, USA, 1 -7 -3 ; 11
2. Perseverance, J 70, Bennet Greenwald , San Diego, CA, USA, 9 -2 -1 ; 12
3. Sugoi, J 70, Chris Raab, Sunset Beach, CA, USA, 6 -1 -5 ; 12
I 14 (One Design - 8 Boats)
1. Astragulu, I 14, Brad Ruetenik, Encinitas, CA, USA, 1 -1 -3 ; 5
2. Eris, I 14, Mikey Radziejowski, Santa Cruz, CA, USA, 2 -2 -1 ; 5
3. Crumpedero, I 14, Terence Gleeson, San Diego, CA, USA, 3 -3 -2 ; 8
Viper 640 (One Design - 16 Boats)
1. Venom, Viper 640, Jeff Grange, Santa Barbara, CA, USA, 2 -1 -3 ; 6
2. It's All Good, Viper 640, Jay Golison, Long Beach, CA, USA, 1 -4 -2 ; 7
3. Nice ASP, Viper 640, Mike Pentecost Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, USA, 3 -3 -1 ; 7