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Mixing it up in Marblehead

Once the breeze filled in, the racing was fine, but tricky.

July 30, 2016

Results as of Friday

Air Express owner Steven Goldberg is Maryland this weekend, missing what he says is the best races of the season, “and not taking it lightly,” but he’s left the boat in the capable hands of his regular crew and stand-in skipper Mike Royer.

In Goldberg’s absence, Royer got them off to a good start, winning the day’s only race for the J/105s, running away on the first beat, extending on the run, and earning the Wilmington Trust Leader Spinnaker for tomorrow’s races. If they continue to lead, they get to keep it another day.

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“The whole fleet was fighting for boat end but we knew the wind was oscillating and figured it was going left,” says Royer. Air Express wanted a clean start and went off from the pin end alone. “We were able to poke out, and we have some new sails so we were fast.

Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta

Team *Air Express *emerged as the top boat of the day from the tight racing in the J/105 fleet. Paul Todd/Outside Images

“We were protecting the left, and at one point the wind went hard right, but we kept seeing wind on the left. We tacked out one more time and when we got there, the wind swung left and we were gone.”

Big shifts were certainly the theme of the day as a weak northeasterly filled after a long mid-day delay under thin clouds. Once the sun broke through, however, racing got underway in light, hole-riddled 5- to 8-knot breeze. For perennial Rhodes 19 champions Jim Raisides and Charlie Pendleton, it was a mentally taxing day.

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“In the first race, we did not have a great start. The wind went hard left at about 20 seconds before the start and we had to tack out and try to cut our way out of the weeds.”

Helly Hansen NOOD

Big shifts and big patience rewarded Charlie Pendleton and Jim Raisides’ Bight Me in the Rhodes 19, which emerged atop the standings after a taxing and frustrating day. Paul Todd/Outside Images

They ended up eighth in the first race, which would be a “keeper” given the effort to get it.

“In the second race, the same thing happened and we ended up at the pin,” says Pendleton.

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“The wind then went hard right and we just had to get across. We got a bit sprung downwind, but the lead boat went hard right on the next upwind leg. They crossed us [at the top of the course] and that’s when we got ahead. Downwind, there was another big shift and it went really light. We ended up reaching across the finish and won. I think I traded in about five years of my life for that win. At the end of the day it felt as if we didn’t do that well, but everyone else had a worse day. I’m exhausted. It was a long day and there’s a lot more left in this regatta.”

While the nearshore classes managed two races, those on the offshore circle only managed a single race as the breeze took longer to settle in. For Tomas Hornos, currently leading the Etchells fleet, it was anything but typical once it got going.

Helly Hansen NOOD

When you see the Town class you know you’re in Marblehead. Berit Solstad’s Lille Venn leads the fleet with a 2-2 on the opening day. Paul Todd/Outside Images

“Typically, the sea breeze comes from the south, usually from the southeast,” says Hornos, “and when it comes from the southeast, you go left. Oddly enough, even though the wind came from the northeast, it still paid to go offshore.”

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The Laser and Laser Radial join the regatta tomorrow, bringing the regatta’s largest fleet. Racing kicks off after noon with light winds forecast again.

Helly Hansen NOOD

There was much lounging in the IOD fleet as competitors waited for the breeze to fill. Paul Todd/Outside Images
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