Marblehead Turns Into Mecca

With the Sperry Top-Sider Marbleahead NOOD Regatta kicking off on Thursday and the J/105 North Americans coming in August, the racing scene on Boston's North Shore is heating up this summer.
Sailing World


Out-of-town J/105s are pouring into Marblehead, Mass., in advance of this weekend’s Sperry Top-Sider Marblehead NOOD as well as the J/105 North American Championship in August. Courtesy Peter Morgan

We’re coming into the home stretch of the 2011 Sperry Top-Sider NOOD series. The “regular season” wraps up in Marblehead, Mass., where racing for 155 teams spread across 10 one-design classes begins this Thursday. On Sunday, we’ll be extending to the overall winner of the Marblehead NOOD the final invitation to November’s Sperry Top-Sider NOOD Championship, during which the overall winners from all eight NOOD locations will race Sunsail 44is through the British Virgin Islands.

With New England’s summer racing season in full swing, there’s a lot of excitement heading into the Marblehead NOOD. Here’s the latest from a few of the classes competing at this weekend’s regatta.

For many J/105 sailors, the Marblehead NOOD will serve as a tune up for the class’s North American championship, which takes place at Eastern YC from August 10 to 14. “Our local fleet of 17 regular competitors will grow to 29 boats,” says class representative Jack Attridge. “They’re coming from as far away as California, Texas, and Canada.


The local J-105 fleet has attracted about 20 boats on a regular basis for recent NOOD regattas,” continues Attridge. “It’s a very competitive, owner-driver friendly fleet. The North Americans committee, headed by Doug Morgan of Steel Away III, has been very busy putting together a first-class event and the week promises to be fun and very competitive.”

Doug Morgan and his father, Peter, are stalwarts of Marbleahead’s J/105 fleet. “For years, the J/105 fleet has been growing and attracting some of the best one-design sailors in this area,” says the elder Morgan. “It’s likely that the J/105 fleet will be the largest in the NOODS this year and probably the most competitive, since the early arrivers for the NAs are serious enough about their racing campaigns to come here two weeks early to race in the NOOD regatta to gain some local knowledge.”

The Morgans and other members of Marblehead’s J/105 Fleet No. 2 will be rolling out the red carpet for their guests over the next few weeks. “We’re working hard to assure that the J/105 visitors for both regattas have a great experience in Marblehead,” says Morgan. “It’s one of the best one-design racing areas anywhere.”


**Alerion Express 28
**”The NOODS have been our one opportunity for class racing the past three years on the East Coast,” says Airtha‘s George Spiecker. “We’re trying to show how a very popular day sailer—with over 100 boats in striking distance of Marblehead—can also be a raceboat.”

Alerion Express sailors will be gathering for a special dinner with factory representatives on Saturday evening.

Rhodes 19
“The Marblehead Rhodes 19 Fleet is celebrating its 50th anniversary this summer,” says Christina Pandapas of Mo Hotta Mo Betta. “Despite the fact that the boat was introduced just after World War II and is hardly the sexiest one-design boat, the Rhodes continues to be the largest one-design fleet in Marblehead, with more than 20 boats on the line on any given Saturday. It consistently draws the largest number of NOOD entries each year.”


Pandapas says there are a lot of good husband-wife teams in the fleet, including Sweep‘s Bill and Renee Heffernan, who won last year’s NOOD as well as the 2010 Rhodes 19 National Championships in a 42-boat fleet. For her part, Pandapas and her husband, Kim, will be shooting for their seventh NOOD victory this weekend.

“Other Marblehead one-design fleets have taken pretty substantial hits, except the J/105s,” says Pandapas. “But the Rhodes keeps sailing steadily on with solid numbers that have even been growing recently. In addition to ‘old guard’ who have been sailing Rhodes for decades, we have a new crop of younger, former college sailors, including Evan Cooke, a former Boston College sailor who has been skippering for owner Pete Kaznoski (crew) for the past several years [aboard Sundance] and is on fire this season. I would pick them as a favorite to win NOOD this year. There is also Elise Mazareas and Joe Fava, former BC sailing teammates who bought a Rhodes [Dinner Out] together this year.”