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Racers Happy to Be Back in Action at the Annapolis NOOD

With the springtime tradition postponed until August, competitors returned with vigor, but the breeze did not.

August 29, 2020
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Sailboat racing in Annapolis, Maryland with the Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta.
With the Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta Annapolis delayed from May to late August, conditions were certainly different than the last 20 years. Sweltering summer heat and a light sea breeze made for a long and race-filled day on the water for nearly 90 teams. Will Keyworth/NOOD Regattas and Will Keyworth

In a Herculean effort to get his dismasted J/35 Abientot to the starting line of this weekend’s Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta Annapolis, Roger Lant went to extreme measures.

“I actually bought another J/35 last week,” Lant said. “We pulled the mast out of it, stripped it and then sent it to the junkyard. It was everything I had in me to get to the starting line. But, today went very well so I am absolutely thrilled.”

He credits his crew’s tenacity and great teamwork for their solid performance in the four-boat J/35 fleet to secure three first-place finishes and one second in shifty, challenging conditions on Chesapeake Bay. “It was very tough sailing out there, but also a lot of fun.”

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The breeze, which peaked at 10 to 15 knots with large wind shifts, kept the committees on their toes to deliver three to four races across the 10 fleets and two circles.

Annapolis local Mary Ewenson on Evil Hiss, leads the eight-boat Viper 640 fleet. “It was a super interesting day,” said Ewenson. “There was a lot of everything and crazy windshifts. We had really tight racing in the Viper fleet, with leads changing all the time. Our strength today was changing gears, which I credit my team to making happen especially with crew weight.”

Ewenson’s crew, husband and professional sailor Geoff Ewenson painted the picture of the day. “There were times it was stunning conditions, then the breeze would disappear and shift 25 degrees. The race committee did an amazing job keeping us racing, oftentimes adjusting marks and finish lines simultaneously for the six fleets on our circle.”

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In the 11-boat J/70 fleet, the lone “out of town” boat currently leads the standings. Chicago sailor John Heaton brought his boat Empeiria to Annapolis from Florida—where it had been doing the winter race circuit—in hopes of finding a place to train with his crew.

It’s Heaton’s first time racing in Annapolis in many years, and he thoroughly enjoyed the first day’s challenges. “It was super shifty and fun,” Heaton said. “I think we’re really good at shifting gears; we got off the line well and focused on staying in pressure.”

They were leading the fourth race until the wind died completely and they got stuck with a J/105 from a different fleet while rounding. “It doesn’t take much in these conditions and we finished that one in fifth.”

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For the 79 teams competing in this weekend’s regatta, which is hosted by the Annapolis Yacht Club with support from Eastport Yacht Club and the Severn Sailing Association, racing continues through the weekend with more wind in the forecast.

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