It's the NOOD, Dude

With small boats showing up everywhere from San Diego to St. Petersburg, the Sperry Top-Sider NOOD series has come a long way from its big boat beginings. "First Beat" from our January 14, 2009, SW eNewsletter

Sailing World

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SeattlePhotoTim Wilkes/ Www.timwilkes.com

A long time ago, after attending all nine events in a single NOOD Regatta series, I pitched an idea to one of my colleagues here at Sailing World. At the time we both agreed it was a good one, but like many of my other half-baked ideas (I'm a Pisces, I can't help it, I dream), this one continues to percolate on the proverbial back burner.A long time ago, after attending all nine events in a single NOOD Regatta series, I pitched an idea to one of my colleagues here at Sailing World. At the time we both agreed it was a good one, but like many of my other half-baked ideas (I'm a Pisces, I can't help it, I dream), this one continues to percolate on the proverbial back burner. Every so often I casually pitch it to someone else, and found myself doing so again the other day.

Here's the basic pitch: our Sperry Top-Sider NOOD Regatta Series is now in its 22nd year, and continues to be the only nationwide regatta series of its kind. There really is nothing like it out there for hard-core amateur racers. The concept of consistent, quality race management at each venue guarantees a good experience for everyone, and the solid attendance each year confirms this is what we've all come to expect. PRO Peter Reggio would deliver nothing less. He likes to have his cake (chocolate) and eat it, too.

But in its genesis as the National Offshore One-Design Regatta two decades ago, the event reflected the sailing scene of the day: there were a lot of offshore classes and big boats banging around the cans. The mission was simple: serve the big boats. Yet over the years, I've wondered why we couldn't apply the same successful formula for the vast majority of dinghy sailors out there as well (myself included).

I felt we needed a DOOD regatta (Dinghy Only One-Design . . . pronounced "dude." Corny, yes, I know). The series would have the same formula (consistent top-shelf race management and quality free-pour parties). Only difference would be smaller boats and a different, likely younger, lot of sailors. I remember "back in the day" when the Citrus SailFest in Lake Monroe, Fla., would pull in hordes of one-designs (some random; anyone seen a US 1 lately?). I wanted that see that happen on a national level.

But the NOOD economics (and the regatta's mission), I was initially told, just didn't apply to my DOOD economics. Maybe so back then, but what about today? Over the past few years there's been a shift in the NOOD makeup as we adapt to the changing landscapes of the local sailing scenes from which each event draws. Venues where we once kept handicap racing at arm's length we now have PHRF. And in other venues, particularly San Diego and Seattle last year, small-boat classes were a big part of the fold.

Truth be told, it was the Geary 18 class that came knocking the loudest and broke down the NOOD doors for the little boats in 1999. They wanted in, even if it meant running with the big dogs (or stay on the porch, as they noted on their class website). So in they went with San Diego small keelboats. Turns out it was a bad idea that year, a particularly windy one, with quite a few memorable sinkings and submersible tow-ins.

The Gearies never did come back. Or maybe they weren't invited. It depends on which party you ask. Regardless, since the Great Geary Experiment of 1999, the regatta's South Bay course on the far side of the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge has morphed into a hot little dinghy circle. Over the years, the International 14s have been a stable and growing presence, followed by the 505s, and last year the 29ers. The momentum is good, but there's only so much raceable water on San Diego Bay, especially given the Navy's wide exclusion perimeter around Coronado Island. So what to do with all these DOODs?

Well, our friends down the hall at Sperry Top-Sider NOOD Regatta headquarters have come up with a solution. To accommodate the area's dinghy posse, Mission Bay YC has joined host San Diego YC as a satellite venue, serving the 505s (who will be having their World Championships up the coast in San Francisco in August), FDs, Buccaneer 18s, and other potential MBYC fleets (the list of classes is still in development I'm told). It sure sounds like the early makings of a DOOD Regatta, too me. It's about time.

But before the NOOD regatta bus pulls into San Diego, we kick off the series in February with the St. Petersburg NOOD. Here, too, there are a few new classes jumping into the mix. Expect a half-dozen Laser SB3s, as well as Corsair Sprint 750s, and Elliott 770s. Following up on San Diego is Annapolis, where we can expect a big turnout from the J/24 class, which will be serving up its world championship the following week. Whether this carries the pre-world win jinx I'm not sure.

Then, it's back to Seattle in May for the second year, with the only one significant change: The Seattle Corinthian YC will be ground zero for all activities and parties, supported, of course, by our friends at the Seattle YC. Onward from Seattle, it's a sprint for the NOOD staff with Detroit and Chicago back-to-back in June. Marblehead, Larchmont, and Houston round out the series at the tail end of the summer.

Online registration for all the events is happening now at sailingworld.com/nood. Click your preferred location and in the middle of the page check out the Regatta Info Center. Here you'll find everything you need. See you on the circuit.