World-Class Talent Tops J/70 Fleet at Marblehead NOOD

Ronning and his crew lead the J/70 fleet after two days of racing.

Joel Ronning executes a simultaneous jibe before the finish of Race 4 to edge his way into a third-place finish in the race. Ronning and his crew lead the J/70 fleet after two days of racing.Paul Todd/Outside Images/NOOD

The Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta at Marblehead Race Week saw plenty of action on its third day. Three additional fleets joined the racing to bring the total number of fleets competing to 13. With stronger winds and a rolling sea-state, competitors had to work harder to earn top finishes.

Joel Ronning (Excelsior, MN) leads the J/70 fleet on his boat, Catapult. This particular J/70 fleet includes three past world champions, including Peter Duncan, Jud Smith, and Ronning. "There's a lot of good sailors out here," says Ronning. "It isn't the biggest fleet, but the quality of racing is outstanding. These boats are so dynamic, and our team is getting to the point where things happen automatically."

Ronning is supported by a veteran crew that continues to strive for excellence. The Catapult team is using this weekend's NOOD Regatta to train for the J/70 World Championship in Torquay, UK, in late August. "We've boiled down our communication onboard to the point where everyone knows what the guy next to them is thinking," says Ronning. "Since we've been sailing with each other for so long, the vibe onboard is great. There's a lot of good banter, that's for sure."

In today’s more challenging conditions, Ronning kept his sails powered up to get through the steep chop. Once he got his boat moving fast, he was able to focus on positioning his boat on the crowded racecourse. “Whenever we were in doubt,” says Ronning, “we put the bow down and just went faster.”

Bradley Adam steers upwind on the second race of the day at the Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta at Marblehead Race Week

Bradley Adam steers upwind on the second race of the day at the Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta at Marblehead Race Week. Adam and his teammates are part of a publicly-funded program supporting youth sailing teams with international aspirations.Paul Todd/Outside Images/NOOD

In the Etchells fleet, Friday’s regatta leader Bradley Adam (East Greenwich, RI) reported that the boat’s backstay broke during the first race of the day, forcing the US Etchells Youth Team of 20-somethings to retire from the race. “We had to repair it before the next start,” says Adam, “but the crew battled back and we were able to finish the day with a first and a second.”

Adam won a grant through the Skiff Sailing Foundation, a non-profit supporting aspiring young sailors, to skipper an Etchells for the season. He competed at the Etchells World Championship in Corpus Christi, Texas, in late June, finishing 19th of 37 international teams. “These boats are really fun to sail,” says Adam. “We’re learning a lot about sail shape and rig tune. Our team hadn’t sailed together two days ago, so it’s coming together nicely.”

Adam graduated from St. Mary’s College of Maryland, and currently serves as head coach at Washington College in Chestertown, MD. His crew—Mary Harrington, Katie Bornarth, and Ian Morgan—is composed of current and former college sailors looking to take the next step toward international racing. “The purpose of the grant is to get young kids into the Etchells class,” he says. “We couldn’t be more stoked on being out here competing.”

The Town Class was able to complete one race before the wind and waves became too much for the vintage-class boats. After four races total, with three from Friday, sisters Berit and Karen Solstad are tied for first.

“I used to sail this boat with my mom,” says Berit Solstad (Stowe, VT). “She’s getting older now, so my sister Karen hopped on board. The best part of the class for us is sailing with family. We grew up racing this boat, so it’s been a blast.”

The Solstad sisters came up through the Pleon Yacht Club junior program and have been sailing the NOOD Regatta at Marblehead Race Week for as long as they can remember. Their family’s first Town Class was constructed entirely of wood, but that one was wrecked in a storm. The Solstads then bought their current hull, which has stood the test of time.

“There’s a couple of multi-generational boats in the fleet,” Solstad says. “Many people in the area have a lot of nostalgia toward the boats, and at the end of the day, they’re perfect for going out with friends and family and having a good time.”

The Solstad sisters battle downwind in the 15-boat Town Class fleet.

The Solstad sisters battle downwind in the 15-boat Town Class fleet.Paul Todd/Outside Images/NOOD

In the J/80 fleet, Sam Cushing (Newport, RI) leads Brian Gibbs (Rowley, MA) by 2 points. “This is our second year sailing together,” says Cushing. “Our whole crew sailed at the University of Rhode Island together, and after graduation we decided to partner on a boat.”

Cushing and crew have since undertaken a full restoration of their hull, which was the third boat built when production began in 1992. “It’s been quite the process putting the boat together, but we just completed most of the major repairs and now we have new sails, which has helped a lot.”

JB Braun (Marblehead, MA) decided to dust off his Laser full-rig when the rest of his family committed to sailing in other classes at the NOOD. “My wife is in the Town class and my son is on the Helly Hansen youth team in the Etchells, so I figured I would take the Laser out for a spin,” says Braun.

The professional sail designer quickly rediscovered his form, winning four of five races in the 15-boat Laser fleet. “We had beautiful Marblehead sailing conditions today. I was surprised at how much breeze we had in the early morning, and when that happens, we tend to get great racing.”

Laser sailors racing near Brimbles Rock enjoyed 15 knots of wind and a steep chop, requiring strenuous hiking on the upwind legs and surfing conditions on the downwind legs. “I’m so sore,” Braun says. “I can barely move.”

The Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta at Marblehead Race Week concludes on Sunday with the champion of each fleet earning a chance to win a berth at the Helly Hansen NOOD Caribbean Championship in the British Virgin Islands in November, sponsored by Sunsail.

Laser (One Design - 17 Boats)
1. 190414, USA190414, JB Braun - 4 -1 -1 -1 -1 ; 8
2. 209634, USA209634, Bill Rothwell - 1 -3 -2 -2 -6 ; 14
3. AD UNDAS, NOR204666, Atle Lohrmann - 3 -2 -3 -5 -2 ; 15

Laser Radial (One Design - 12 Boats)
1. Laser, 188886, Ryosuke Sakai - 1 -1 -1 -1 -2 ; 6
2. Moon Cusser, 187397, Alex DiCenso - 3 -3 -2 -2 -3 ; 13
3. Ju Ju Bee, USA191464, Judith Krimski - 4 -2 -4 -4 -1 ; 15

2.4 Meter (One Design - 8 Boats)
1. Magic Bus, USA9, Theodore Green - 1 -1 -2 -2 ; 6
2. 2.4mr (Para), USA142, Charles Rosenfield - 2 -2 -1 -3 ; 8
3. TBD, 145, Jim Romano - 4 -3 -3 -1 ; 11

J 70 (One Design - 25 Boats)
1. Catapult, USA65, Joel Ronning - -1 -4 -5 -3 -1 -4 ; 18
2. Relative Obscurity, USA1311, Peter Duncan - -3 -14 -1 -1 -3 -2 ; 24
3. Team Vineyard Vines, USA901, John & Molly Baxter - -2 -11 -3 -4 -5 -1 ; 26

Rhodes 19 (One Design - 25 Boats)
1. The Mighty Rhodes, USA1683, Matt Hooks - 1 -1 -2 -1 -9 -3 -7 -2 ; 26
2. Tough Cookie, 3172, David Nelson - 7 -7 -6 -7 -2 -2 -1 -1 ; 33
3. Jabberwock, USA1926, Jim Taylor - 5 -9 -7 -2 -7 -4 -2 -6 ; 42

Town Class (One Design - 18 Boats)
1. Believe it or Knot, USA2086, Chris Howes - -1 -3 -3 -1 ; 8
2. Lille Venn, USA2074, Berit Solstad - -3 -1 -1 -3 ; 8
3. Tonic, 2065, Nick Cann - -2 -2 -2 -8 ; 14

IOD (One Design - 11 Boats)
1. Javelin, USA130, Bill Widnall - 1 -1 -1 -2 -4 -3 -3 ; 15
2. Gypsy, USA7, Bruce Dyson / Norm Cressy - 4 -7 -4 -1 -2 -1 -2 ; 21
3. Elektra, 2, Hanna Vincent - 5 -2 -2 -6 -6 -2 -1 ; 24

J 105 (One Design - 15 Boats)
1. Good Trade, USA96, Bruce Stone & Nicole Breault - -2 -2 -3 -2 -1 -1 ; 11
2. Deja Voodoo, USA130, Bill Zartler - -4 -1 -1 -1 -2 -3 ; 12
3. Brouhaha, USA345, Ric Dexter - -1 -3 -2 -4 -9 -7 ; 26

Etchells (One Design - 15 Boats)
1. Natasha, USA1012, Ted Hardenbergh - -2 -3 -3 -2 -4 -4 ; 18
2. Sour Mash, USA1153, Schaefer / Hancock / Newman - -1 -2 -8 -1 -3 -6 ; 21
3. USA Youth Team Red, 1208, Chris Manson-Hing - -4 -1 -2 -16 -1 -2 ; 26

J 24 (One Design - 6 Boats) 1. Sea Bags Women's Sailing Team, USA2918, Erica Beck Spencer - 1 -1 -2 -2 -1 -1 ; 8
2. Shifty, USA1359, Martin Gallagher - 2 -2 -1 -3 -4 -2 ; 14 3. Sheldon J, USA4183, John Wells - 3 -3 -3 -1 -2 -3 ; 15

J 80 (One Design - 5 Boats)
1. The Party Tree, USA3, Samuel Cushing - 1 -1 -2 -1 -4 -4 -2 -2 ; 17
2. Blind Faith, USA1001, Brian Gibbs - 3 -2 -3 -2 -1 -1 -3 -4 ; 19
3. Upsetter, USA381, Jason Viseltear - 2 -3 -1 -4 -2 -2 -4 -3 ; 21

Comets (One Design - 7 Boats)
1. Gemini 2, 4151, Talbott Ingram - 2 -3 -2 -1 -2 -1 ; 11
2. Harms Way, 4123, Richard Harmon - 5 -1 -1 -2 -1 -5 ; 15
3. 3952, 3952, Mark Buruchian - 1 -2 -4 -4 -5 -3 ; 19

Viper 640 (One Design - 8 Boats)
1. Dragon Lady II, 236, Robert Bowditch - 3 -2 -4 -1 -1 -2 -1 -1 ; 15
2. Porkchop, USA166, Matthew Hebert - 6 -4 -1 -4 -3 -1 -4 -3 ; 26
3. Cat Burglar, 35, Cam Farrah - 1 -5 -3 -2 -6 -3 -2 -9 ; 31