At our recent Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta at Marblehead Race Week, I’m wandering the parking lot of the Boston YC searching for a guy named Ted Green. He’s agreed to an interview about the 2.4 Metre class, which is new to the regatta and the next candidate in our continuing web series about the one-design classes, new and old, that define what the NOOD is all about: club racers sailing the boats they love.
Near the host, a few 2.4 Metres sit in their wheeled cradles, their skippers fiddling with them as they await their turns to launch. They’re such odd-looking boats, I think to myself, so small and narrow with such deep keels. The skippers of these 2.4 Metres face forward in their cockpits, in a hard seat surrounded by skinny control lines and small blocks. There’s a manual bilge pump conveniently placed between their legs, which is a clear indication the boat is a wet ride.
Green finally arrives, and I help crane the miniature 12 Metre into the water like a toy. Once tied alongside the dock, Green, who is tall, limber and lanky, slides into his keelboat, feet first and forward, and his lower body disappears into a honeycomb-cored cavern of ropes cascading and spilling out from a shelf of cam cleats at the front of the cockpit. Beneath the red ball cap and trimmed white beard, he suddenly looks diminutive in a boat that’s barely longer than he is tall.
Green, of Newport, Rhode Island, tells me he’s been in the class long enough to know what’s fast and what’s not. His boat is one of the more tricked-out 2.4 Metres at the regatta. A few Marblehead locals, he says, recently bought used 2.4 Metres as a step toward establishing a fleet. Planting the seed, if you will. Green delivered two 2.4 Metres up from Newport—his and his son Ted Jr.’s—with the intent of helping the newcomers get up to speed.
His son’s boat is for sale, he says, and he’s asking $6,000 for it. Ted Sr.’s Magic Bus is for sale too—everything is for the right price.
His path to the 2.4 Metre class came through his young son, who was injured in a forestry accident several years ago. Ted Jr., a top junior sailor before the accident, had returned to sailing after a remarkable recovery and was racing a 2.4 Metre at an international regatta in Miami. Before then, Ted Sr. hadn’t given much thought to the boat or the class at all. It was simply a boat for disabled sailors with Paralympic aspirations.
“After one of the races, I asked him if I could try the boat,” says Green, who raced Etchells for more than three decades. “I sailed it for an hour and I look up at the sailplan, and it’s essentially the same thing. It was fun to sail.”
To sail in the same circles as his son, he got one for himself.
RELATED: Inside the Classes: 2.4 Metre
Not much has changed in the international realm of 2.4 Metres since the class earned its World Sailing official class status in 1993, but what essentially started as 12 Metre test hulls long ago has evolved into a one-design class with a rich history of champions passing through its doors. Today, America’s Cup sailors, Olympians, Paralympians and amateur sailors race alongside each other—able-bodied and disabled alike.
Paralympic status certainly helped the class blossom in its heyday, but even with the elimination of Paralympic sailing for Tokyo 2020, 2.4 Metre sailing continues to thrive internationally, Green says. He races mainly in Rhode Island, but he tells me the class has a good winter circuit on Florida’s west coast. The Can-Am series, as it’s called, attracts the Canadian snowbirds, and now there’s a similar circuit in Toronto, where the boats are popular.
There are two high-quality builders in Europe, Green says, and the hulls are pretty stock, but there is an effort underway to make the keel a little longer and lower.
Honestly, it’s hard to imagine how much lower anything could get in a 2.4 Metre. “We’ll see how that proves out,” Green says.
He bought his Magic Bus “barely used.” The boat was brought over from Europe for the 2.4 Metre World Championship in Toronto in 2014. “I spoke with a builder who was supposed to ship it back,” he says with a grin. “We made an arrangement….”
A top-shelf new boat today, Green says, costs about $15,000 with everything included, but decent used boats can be had—if you can find one—for $5,000 to $6,000. “Every one is set up differently, with lines led depending on your preference or your disability. It’s moving cam cleats around and changing sheet leads, but that’s the only difference.”
When racing, he says, his hands and mind are plenty busy around the racecourse; at his disposal are all the same controls he had on his Etchells: mainsheet fine-tune, backstay, jib-tack, cunningham, barber haulers and, of course, the big bilge pump between his legs.
The challenge with sailing 2.4 Metres, he says, is keeping one’s head out of the boat and not getting caught up playing with the strings. But with his feet to steer the boat, his hands are free tweak. “It’s all easy to reach, and you’re not moving around the boat at all,” he says. “It’s moving your hands 6 inches to get to a sail control.”
He assures me that you eventually get used to the sensation of sitting face-forward and being so low to the water. You also get used to having water sloshing around in the bilge as you bob and weave through waves.
There’s an electric bilge pump too, but in strong winds, keeping the water in the bilges is fast. “Once it comes over the floorboard, you want to start pumping,” Green says with a laugh. “But keeping the weight low makes the boat a bit stiffer.”
The go-fast technique for upwind sailing is to “let the boat hunt”—advice gleaned from his son who has since moved on to kiteboarding. “He says you have to let the boat hunt, creeping up to weather, with a little bit of weather helm.” He also likes to have a runway of about eight to 10 seconds to the starting line, rather than luffing his sails and waiting. “Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t,” he says.
The boat tacks quickly, so when conditions are right, the racing is highly tactical, but racing 2.4 Metres is no different than any other boat. You’re looking for windshifts just like everyone else, Green says. But going down the run, the whisker pole can be an issue. “For a newbie in the boat, the only tricky thing is jibing the whisker pole,” he says. “You have to pull it back into the boat, jibe the main, and then push it out again.”
The pole, however, can get caught against the rig and result in what Green calls an “oh-darn-it” moment. “We have a few of those in these boats…at least I do.”
Don’t we all? No matter the boats, the sailors, their ages or abilities, the challenges remain the same, and that’s the true beauty of our sport.