Widnall Perfect on Opening Day; Hooks Tops Rhodes 19s at Marblehead NOOD Regatta

In the opening races of the Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta at Marblehead Race Week, local ace Bill Widnall wins all three in the IODs.
Rob Pascal

Rhodes 19 crew, Rob Pascal, sailing on The Mighty Rhodes, prepares for a hoist on the first day of the 2019 Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta at Marblehead Race Week. Paul Todd/Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta

The 2019 Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta at Marblehead Race Week kicked off today with three races in the IOD and Rhodes 19 Fleets. Matt Hooks and Rob Pascal, of Eastern Yacht Club, sailed their Rhodes 19, The Mighty Rhodes, to two race wins and a second for a total of 4 points combined. “We’ve had good starts to this event before,” says Hooks, “and we have yet to take home a regatta win, so the plan is to keep up the intensity going into the weekend.”

A native of the Marblehead area, Hooks spent his youth sailing days at Pleon Yacht Club before heading to Stanford University for college sailing. After a few years working in San Francisco, he returned home and bought a Rhodes 19 to keep up on his one-design sailing.

“The Rhodes 19 is one of the strongest classes in the area,” says Hooks. “We have the largest fleet in Marblehead, and it’s really easy because I only have to organize one other crew.”


Hooks met his teammate, Rob, as a junior sailor, and the two competed against each other at the collegiate level. For Hooks, the Rhodes 19s were relatively affordable to break into compared to other classes, and with strong fleet leadership, the local fleet has attracted all kinds of new sailors to local events.

IOD fleet

The IOD fleet has been a mainstay of Marblehead Race Week. Paul Todd/Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta

“The fact that NOOD supports Marblehead Race Week is great because it brings visibility to the event,” says Hooks. “It’s great to give the local Rhodes 19 fleet some national-level attention. The race management is always great at these events, and the socials afterward are always first class.”

Bill Widnall, of Lexington, Mass., skippered his boat, Javelin to three race wins in the IOD fleet. A veteran of the class, Bill has won 10 IOD world championships, and at the age of 82, he still finds the class as competitive as ever.


“Today was a delightful day for sailboat racing,” says Widnall. “My crew was flawless, and they really did a great job all day.” Sailing with Widnall is Eric Wolff on bow, Sheila Widnall in the pit, Abigail Lee on strategy, and Wilson Kaznoski, a local Pleon Yacht Club high school sailor, trimming main.

“Our spinnaker sets were particularly good,” says Widnall. “The chute was always full before the stern left the mark, which helped us get away from the pack.”

Widnall also made adjustments to his sail setup as his team faced the various conditions of Marblehead’s ocean racecourse. “There was a little bit of chop coming in from the east,” Widnall explains, “so when we were going against the chop, we had to power up our boat to punch through the waves. Then on the other tack, we could put the traveler up and shift gears appropriately to keep the boat moving well through the water.”

practicing roll jibes

Brian Keane, of Weston, Mass., and his crew practice roll jibes in his J/70 in preparation for the start of racing at the Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta in Marblehead. Paul Todd/Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta

Widnall bought his first IOD in 1966 and has spent more than 50 years in the class. Over the years, he has taken out countless new sailors to give them the experience of racing in a big fleet. “That’s the best part of the class,” says Widnall. “Because the boat isn’t particularly weight sensitive, it’s easy to take newer sailors out and show them the ropes. Many of them become long term owners and competitors in the fleet, which is why it is still so popular today.”

Widnall says he particularly enjoys the NOOD regatta because it attracts all the local teams that don’t always make it to the weekend races. “It’s also great seeing all the other fleets that come to town. Having three race courses just off the coast is really exciting.”

The 2019 Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta at Marblehead Race Week continues with 11 additional classes racing Friday through Sunday. At the conclusion of the regatta, one team among 165 entries will be selected to compete at the Helly Hansen Caribbean NOOD Championship in the British Virgin Islands, hosted by Sunsail.


2019 Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta Marblehead Results

Place, Yacht Name, Sail, Owner/Skipper, Results, Total Points

**Rhodes 19 (One Design – 25 Boats) **

  1. The Mighty Rhodes, USA1683, Matt Hooks – 1 -1 -2 ; 4
  2. Cruzin’, 1680, Christopher Schreiber – 8 -2 -1 ; 11
  3. Mo hotta Mo betta, USA982, Kim Pandapas – 3 -4 -4 ; 11

IOD (One Design – 11 Boats)

  1. Javelin, USA130, Bill Widnall – 1 -1 -1 ; 3
  2. Elektra, 2, Hanna Vincent – 5 -2 -2 ; 9
  3. Kungsornen, 49, Alejandro Camino – 2 -4 -5 ; 11