Raiding San Diego

The new-and-improved 2013 Sperry Top-Sider NOOD regatta series makes its next stop in San Diego, so the South Bay course will be teeming with action: we get up to speed with the Buccaneer and Viper 640 classes.

Sailing World

San Diego NOOD Buccaneer

The 18-foot Buccaneer class assembles each winter at the San Diego NOOD, most traveling in from faraway sailing towns.Sperry Top-Sider NOOD Regattas

The buccaneers of early seafaring days were a crafty lot, said to have raided coastal towns by parking their ships out of sight and invading unsuspecting villages, not from the sea, but from the hills. The same will be true this weekend as teams from the Buccaneer class descend upon the Coronado and San Diego YCs for the 2013 Sperry Top-Sider San Diego NOOD Regatta. Many of them will be rolling in from the eastern sailing enclave of Phoenix, Ariz., and some from up the coast, and fortunately, the Mount Gay Rum will be in ample supply. No marauding required.

The seven-hour drive is a long one, says class organizer Ron Gibbs, of Phoenix, but the Buccaneer class is looking forward to its NOOD return, this time on the San Diego Bay racecourse. Previous regattas on San Diego’s “outside” Point Loma courses were swamping affairs. “We prefer the inside," says Gibbs, “especially because we only have six inches of freeboard. We’re excited to be in the South Bay, which is perfect for us. We do a lot of bobbing and baking [in Arizona], so in San Diego we should have winds that are at the higher end of the range for us, but it’s these challenging conditions that always send us home with perma-grins that last for weeks.”

Gibbs is one of an entourage of Buccaneer sailors that have been busy loading a four-stack trailer in Phoenix this week, but he won’t be behind the wheel of the SoCal-bound tow. Instead, he’ll be loading up the wagon with his wife and kids so they can spend quality family time at Disneyland before the NOOD. “The kids’ spring vacation lines up nicely,” he says. “The family will come down to San Diego but head home just before we start racing—I’ll be bumming a ride back to Phoenix.”

The Buccaneers are not the San Diego’s NOOD’s most populous class by any stretch (the Vipers are vying for that bragging right), but they will be using the regatta as a recruiting mission. They’re hoping to hawk one or two of the boats they’re bringing.

“It’s a great boat,” says Gibbs. “You can learn almost every skill you need. It’s got all the sails so it’s great for first timers, but technical enough for advanced sailors.”

The South and the Southeast have the greatest concentrations of Buccaneers, which were designed by J.R. Macalpine-Downie in 1966 and are now built by Nickels Boat Works, in Flint, Mich., but because of these recruiting missions, new and used boats are making their way east and west one at a time.

Baring equipment failures, says Gibbs, the one to watch in the fleet is its newest owner, Matt Davis, who will be making the trek from the Pacific Northwest. “He’s very good, but I’m no slouch either,” says Gibbs. “It will depend on the breeze. We’re a little lighter on our crew [than he will be], so if it’s severe breeze it’ll be good for him.”

Spectators can look for Gibbs in the red-hulled Scarlet Banshee, a boat he and a friend recently purchased in order to keep it near the west coast.

Phoenix’s Buccaneer fleet has lost some of its sailors to the hometown Viper 640 fleet, some of which are also interstate bound for the NOOD, but the two classes will be happily sharing the same racetrack in San Diego.

"We may have the largest fleet on the water for the NOOD," says Viper 640 class coordinator Tim Carter. "The class is really growing right now. We have about 34 boats on the West Coast, and a new fleet at King Harbor YC that's really pumped—in fact we might have the first all-women team from that fleet at the NOOD."

Carter himself will be sitting out this one, chartering his boat instead to Vancouver sailor George Glueksmann, who’s waiting for the arrival of his own Viper—stuck somewhere in a shipping container. “We have a lot people constantly reaching out for charter boats,” says Carter, “but, unfortunately, we don’t have enough.”

Some would say that’s a good problem to have.

The team onboard Jim Sears’ F.N.G. has been on a hot streak, says Carter, so they’ll be the ones to watch, but there’s a dark horse in Mark Folkman, a 505 sailor: “He will do well. He’s a quality sailor. Expect to see good stuff out of him, but there are many other top guys in there as well.”

Click here to find more on the San Diego NOOD, from the NOR, to party details, to the results when they come in this weekend.