NOOD 2013 thumb
We’ll take credit for perfecting the formula followed by so many of today’s multiclass, weekend events. When Sailing World‘s first National Offshore One-Design Regatta was introduced 25 years ago, with Audi as presenting sponsor, my predecessors took a leap of faith launching an ambitious regatta scheme: three days of racing off Newport, R.I., for one-design and level-classes only, and an onshore spectacle the likes of which no one had ever seen. Every race day and party was sponsored, and the sailors were treated to seminars led by the likes of Tom Blackhaller and a kid named Ken Read. They pulled the sailing industry into the fray as well, creating a veritable boatshow under the party tent, where competitors could engage with reps from hardware, electronics, and rope manufacturers alike. Rowdy parties fueled by the big brands of the day—Mount Gay, Guinness, Bass Ale, and Kahlua—were loud and unrivaled. On the water there were 750 sailors spread across 85 boats, from J/24s to Three-Quarter Tonners. Stories from this inaugural event bubble with superb sailing conditions and close racing, even in the level fleets. By all accounts it went off without a hitch, and from that one weekend 25 years ago an unrivaled national regatta series was born.
We’ve witnessed many NOOD regattas that live up to that founding event, especially in Chicago where big boats and big thirsts prevail. Each venue is different, and that’s what makes the series so unique. For fun in the winter sun, St. Petersburg has it all (especially when there’s wind). For pure, big-fleet, one-design racing, Annapolis and San Diego go head-to-head. Marblehead and Seattle, on opposite coasts, are nothing alike ashore or on their respective waters, but the sailors have the same zeal: It’s summertime, the season is short, and they cherish the racing, rum, and camaraderie. And speaking of rum, let’s not forget the Caribbean NOOD Championship—you have to get there to know how good it is.
Over the 25 years, however, our in-house NOOD team has witnessed big changes in the regatta landscape: competition from similar events, escalating costs, and an overall decline in participation. As a result, they recently conducted surveys across all of their events, and the results weren’t surprising: Those who are happy say don’t change a thing. Those who are critical point to entry fees, expensive social tickets, and lousy food.
The NOOD team listened and will implement a number of improvements for the 2013 series, including, but not limited to, a more flexible party schedule that has a Friday night happy hour, partnerships with local restaurants for affordable crew dinners, and a later Saturday night bash that allows competitors to get out of their foul-weather gear, grab a shower, and join the party.
On the racing front, teams can expect the same professional race management that sets a Sperry Top-Sider NOOD event apart, improved scoring and results delivery, an easier entry process, and the addition of distance races at some venues. To engage younger sailors, they’re adding dinghy circles and clinics at select locations. Sailing World‘s editors will be there, too, just as they were back when it all started in 1988—making sure the sailing is great, the beer is cold, and the good times are recorded.
Click here for information on this year’s NOOD regattas.