The high-performance International 14s, Vipers, and 29er sailboat fleets buzzed around San Diego’s South Bay today to officially kick off the Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta San Diego, the opening event for North America’s largest regatta series.
Today’s three races provided the perfect opportunity to shake the dust off for many sailors like Kris Bundy, who hadn’t stepped foot on his International 14 boat in a year and a half. Despite the lack of practice time, he and teammate Jamie Hanseler finished today with a 1-point lead in the nine-boat fleet. But, that didn’t come without its challenges Bundy says. He sheepishly admitted that in the second race, they mishandled a port-starboard upwind cross as one of the shifts came through, and ‘love-tapped’ fellow I-14 competitor Mikey Radziejowski’s SIngle Wide stern.
“We were duking it out with Mikey and Evan (currently are in second place), and we may have accidentally hit them. They were telling us to cross, we couldn’t hear and I was slow to duck even despite Mikey’s evasive actions.
“So after both boats got back up, Mikey went on to win the race, and we also got to practice our circles,” Bundy said with a laugh. “Needless to say, we had the full experience today getting back to racing.”
Geoff Fargo, sailing his Viper 640 Boomslang, also hadn’t raced since August 2019. “Our focus this weekend is on the basics,” Fargo says. “First, make sure we got the boat put together right, and then just try to sail smart and not make too many mistakes.
“With the oscillating breeze, there were a lot of shifts on the course today. We really just tried to avoid taking any big risks and play it safe.”
The strategy thus far has paid off. With two second places and one first place, Fargo is 3 points ahead of fleet veteran Timothy Carter.
In the 29er fleet, the San Diego-based teenage brother duo of Ian and Noah Nyenhuis finished the first day with a perfect scoreline in the 11-boat fleet.
COVID canceled sailing plans for many teams over the past year, but the Nyenhuis’ have been able to continue their training. Sixteen-year-old Noah, who crews for his 14-year-old brother, credits San Diego YC’s growing 29er fleet and consistent training as a big benefit to helping raise their game.
This is, however, the first large fleet they’ve competed against in over a year, and the team’s plan is to “hopefully continue with our performance from today,” says Noah. “But even more, to continue implementing we’ve been working on the past couple of months and tie everything together. The biggest thing is to have fun and that we’re doing what we love.”
Racing continues tomorrow, with the addition of the F18s and J/24 fleets joining the South Bay circle, and the Ocean Course hosting the Beneteau 36.7 and 40.7s, Etchells and J/105s.
Saturday also marks the inaugural North Sails Doublehanded Distance Race, which will send competitors racing in a variety of boats on one long course spanning San Diego Bay and offshore near Point Loma, as well as the Cruising World Rally, which consists of a fleet of multihulls.