That it’s always raining in Seattle, I’m told, is a cliche. True as that may be, the region has had an average of 13 inches of rain thus far this year, and all I’ve heard since hitting the wet ground here in Seattle is how miserable the spring has been. But a forecast of northerly sea breezes, record high-temperatures, and sun–yes, three solid days of the golden stuff–is helping ratchet up the numbers for the first Sperry Top-Sider Seattle NOOD Regatta to 220 as of this writing on Thursday morning, and as par for the course with this town, late entries can and will likely trickle in on registration day. Given the already strong turnout from the area’s numerous keelboat classes, we can only expect the late comers to show amongst the centerboard classes, which are racing only on Saturday and Sunday.
This is now one of only two stops on the nine-event NOOD circuit with dinghy classes (San Diego being the other). A former colleague at the magazine and I long ago schemed an offspring “DOOD” regatta (dinghy only one-design), and while that never came to fruition, this is the closest thing to it, and the overall series is the better for it. But truth be told, the dinghies and small keelboats had always assembled here this time of the year for what was called the S.O.C.K.S Regatta, a hugely popular and long standing multi-class event that attracted the areas many high-performance small-boat sailors. The arrival of the NOOD on the same weekend, and the initial belief that it would primarily be a big-boat event, wasn’t welcome news among this crowd.
Brian Ledbetter, Seattle YC’s Sailing Director (and the ’92 Finn silver medalist) says there was a huge outcry and some resistance, in particular from the Laser and Vanguard 15 sailors, with regard to the regatta’s higher entry fees.
|| |—| | Sailing World/Dave Reed| || But Ledbetter and others at SYC lobbied hard to bring those fees down and limit the racing to the weekend. It was a solution most were amenable to and the end result is that nearly a third of the NOOD regatta’s 220-boat fleet are either centerboarders or multihulls (the F-18s, of which, are new to this event). The S.O.C.K.S Regatta may not be on the calendar this year, but the NOOD is laying the foundation for what could someday become a bigger, better dinghy regatta for the region.
The on-the-water cooperation of the two host clubs, Seattle YC, and Corinthian Seattle YC, with its facilities overlooking Puget Sound, is key to pulling off this event, and Ben Glass, Seattle YC’s Junior Sailing Coach and US Sailing Developmental Coach of the Year, has been tasked with making sure it all goes off without a hitch. “This could be the biggest regatta we’ve ever been involved with running,” says Glass, “but we’re ready for it.” For the past several days, his junior clubhouse has been strewn with shiny new ground tackle; chain, dozens of anchors and reels upon reels of rode to reach the seemingly bottomless depths of the sound.
On site at CYC, the big tent stands erect, the parking assignments for the various classes (onshore and in the slips) have been doled out, the massive yellow cranes are coming to life, registration kicks off tonight, and Melges 24 sailors are running the waterfront in advance of their weigh-in. Racing is scheduled for a 1100 start on Friday, and with a perfect forecast in hand, it looks as though the first Sperry Top-Sider Seattle NOOD is ready to rock. Check this space shortly and over the weekend as we meet some new and familiar faces from the Seattle scene and check in from the racecourses with stories and photos.