Big Breeze At First Day of the Sailing World Annapolis NOOD Regatta

A strong Nothwesterly challenges the 225-boat fleet

Diane Chase

Sailors at the 2002 Sailing World Annapolis NOOD woke up the first morning of the three-day event to wind, and plenty of it. Gusts of up to 30 knots out of the Northwest and shifty conditions demanded good crew work and tactics from all 225 boats in four racing areas on the Chesapeake. “It was so shifty that it reminded me of sailing on the Charles River in Boston,” said Jim Alman, a crewmember on Etchells 1198, helmed by Ched Proctor. “But it was good fun.” Proctor, of Southport, Conn was phlegmatic about his winning ways today, “The holes were deep and it was shifty,” he said. “So I basically tacked whenever the jib came back in our face.” Proctor and crew are in first place in the 27-boat Etchells fleet with a 2,2,1 for the day.

Peter Muir, of Portsmouth R.I., was sailing on Bada Bing, a J/80, when, on a downwind leg in the second race of the day, planing at 13 knots, an even bigger gust hit the boat, causing it to spin out. "The boat spun so fast that the outboard (locked into a bracket down below), torqued out of its mount amidships and flew all the way to the back of the boat." The outboard wasn't the only thing to get launched in the puff. "One minute I was there, about to sit down, the next minute I was in the water, "said Muir. "It happened quickly but it also seemed like it was happening in slow motion. I missed every part of the boat except the stern pulpit on my way over the side. I didn't think it was possible to get launched like that and miss so many parts of the boat." The crew of Bada Bing, owned by Geoffrey Pierini, of Metuchen, N.J., hauled the chute down and quickly turned around to pick up their wayward crewmember. "They found me pretty quickly and pulled me back on board without a problem. Even with my neoprene top I was pretty cold initially but after another leg in that breeze, I warmed up pretty quickly."

Anthony Kotoun, a former college sailor of the year, was sailing the Mumm 30 Bold 2 approaching the weather mark in one race, when he, too had a glimpse of mortality. " We were on layline approaching the mark just as the entire J/105 fleet came around and headed downwind, right at us," he said. "There were about five boats that looked as if they were in control and 25 that weren't. With their poles all extended, aiming at us I felt like I was in the battle scene in the movie Braveheart when all the arrows got fired at the attacking forces. It was like a bunch of shishkabob skewers were aimed at us. High School sailor Erin Kelly, of Annapolis, was sailing with Kotoun. "It was awesome," said Kelly. It was blowing like crazy but I was sailing with a bunch of really experienced guys. It was good."
Kelly, who usually sails 420s at the Annapolis YC, and on her parent's Catalina, decided that big-boat racing was for her. "I want my own Mumm 30," she said.

"Fun conditions," said Bryce Barritt, of Hampton, Virginia, sailing on Aden King's J/22 Bat Mobile, "We had no wipeouts and didn't break anything so we were stoked but it was hairy out there at times." Bat Mobile ended up in the top third of the 42-boat J/22 fleet with a 12,13,12 for the day. Duking it out in the top four in the 14-boat J/80 fleet is Michael Lague of Stewartsville, N.J. "In all my J/80 racing, it was probably the strongest winds we've seen, he said. "We were going 15 to 20 knots downwind at one point, and I looked back and saw at least three chutes totally blown up behind us."

The sailmakers in Annapolis will be up late tonight but sailors in all classes will no doubt be sleeping well with three big races behind them and two days of sailing yet to go. They’ll also take some comfort in the fact that the forecast is for a less windy day tomorrow.