September 10, 2001– On Friday, September 21, Galveston Bay will be the stage for an armada of sailboats going to battle–not for the spoils of war but for national and regional titles at the Sailing World NOOD (National Offshore One-Design) Regatta.
This three-day regatta, which is the final event of a nine-event national racing circuit, will pit top sailors from the Gulf Coast against tough contenders from outlying states; a fleet of 120 boats from 10 states is expected. Racing at the Galveston Bay NOOD–which concludes Sunday, September 23–is hosted by the Houston Yacht Club and presented by Farmers Insurance Group and Mount Gay Rum.
The NOOD, which comes to Galveston Bay each September, travels to the Gulf Coast at a time when the weather is in transition. Hurricanes and tropical storms have threatened the fleet in past years, and the weather could be a mixed bag of gentle seabreezes or passing fronts from the northwest. Not even veteran racers will venture to make weather predictions, but there is one prediction top sailors will make: competition at the NOOD is going to be tough.
As Houston-area sailor Jay Lutz–a sailmaker whose day job includes lots of time on the water–eyes the lineup in the J/80 class, he knows that this class will be a battle even for a pro like himself. “If youre not on the top of your game in the J/80 class, you can easily fall to the back of the pack. The field in this class has grown deep: everyone is learning fast–and they are anxious to improve.”
The J/80s, an international fleet that is growing rapidly on a national scale, will compete for their North American Championships at the NOOD. Lutz, who was second at the class 2001 World Championships, will crew for Roland Arthur (Roanoke, Texas) onboard Wild Thang. Steve Hammerman (Houston), who won the J/80 class at the NOOD in 1998 and 1999, and William “Mac” Kilpatrick (Oklahoma City, Okla.) will be strong contenders. Some 20 to 25 J/80s are expected.
Two other classes will vie for regional honors at the NOOD. The Hobie 33 class will race their 2001 Gulf Coast Championships; reigning champion Scott Self from Rockwall (Texas) and his crew on Soap Opera will defend their title.
The Catalina 22s, which will be split into spinnaker and non-spinnaker divisions, will compete for the Texas State Spinnaker Championships. Husband-and-wife crew Gene and Cathy Ferguson (Arlington, Texas) will defend their title onboard Bulletproof. Family crews are not unusual in the Catalina 22 class. “What draws many people to the class is that its a good family class: its very competitive, but friendly at the same time,” said Marilyn Boemer of Roanoke, who helms her boat Calypso with her husband Don as crew.
Catalina 22 crews will be among the frontrunners for a special fleet trophy awarded by presenting sponsor Farmers Insurance Group; at series end, the top-scoring family crew will receive the Farmers Family Award. A second fleet trophy will be given by support sponsor Lewmar: one boat will be crowned the top performer on opening day with the Lewmar Boat of the Day Award. These two fleet trophies will be awarded on Sunday evening, at the Houston Yacht Club, in addition to the prizes granted to winners of each class.
In addition to the above-mentioned groups, the following classes are expected on the starting line: 25 Class, 27 Class, Ensign, Etchells, Express 37, J/105, J/22, Level 105, Level 123, Level 70, Melges 24, Schock 20, and Sonar. J/80s and J/22s are expected to draw the largest fleets. J/105s are the fastest-growing fleet at this stop on the NOOD circuit: the class is expected to double in size from last year, with 12 boats expected.
Support sponsors who join event organizer Sailing World magazine (Newport, R.I.) and host Houston Yacht Club include: Hall Spars & Rigging, High Sierra Sport Company, Lewmar, North Sails, Samuel Adams, and Sunsail.
During the Galveston Bay NOOD, race reports and fleet results will be posted daily on the Sailing World website (www.sailingworld.com).