NOOD Series returns to Florida
Published on March 30th, 2021
With 121 teams currently registered, the 33rd edition of the Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta St. Petersburg gets underway April 2-4 in St. Petersburg, FL. While normally this event kicks off the NOOD series in February, a postponement allowed for the region to further progress through the pandemic to host a safe regatta.
The date change benefited the 76-year-old Thistle fleet, as the class’ traditional winter championship conflicted with the NOOD’s usual timeframe. For 33-year-old local resident Kevin Bradley, the NOOD is an opportunity to race his Thistle Shred Stick, a beautifully restored wooden version of the boat, originally built in 1955. Bradley bought the boat when he was 18 years old and restored it with his father.
“It’s relatively affordable and a lot of fun to sail,” says Bradley, who recommends the Thistle for younger sailors interested in racing an inexpensive class of boat. “It’s great to drive, has a lot of sail area, and attracts big numbers at national events.”
The Thistle Class has made a concerted effort to attract younger sailors, and the strategy is working. According to Bradley, the class organization pays entry fees for skippers under the age of 26, thanks to a steady stream of donations. Of the seven Thistles entered this weekend, Bradley notes all but two skippers are younger.
With its new two-person Melges 15, which debuted in 2020, Wisconsin-based Melges Performance Sailboats is also targeting a wide range of youth and mixed teams. According to Mark Gorman, who will be racing with his 17-year-old daughter, Dylan, the Melges 15 ticks all the right boxes. Gorman had only sailed heavier keelboats before purchasing his Melges 15 and says the dinghy helps him to cross train, improving his skill set.
For Dylan Gorman, whose sailing experience is limited to crewing on the family’s J/70 keelboat, the Melges 15 gives her an opportunity to take a more active role on the boat, learning sail trim and tactics.
“It perhaps prepares her for club sailing in college,” Gorman says. “It’s an awesome boat for us. To go 15 knots downwind, skipping on top of the water is a wild feeling. But even more so, when you have a 17-year-old daughter, you take whatever moments you can get. This boat is helping us spend some time together creating memories.”
Another new feature of the 2021 NOOD Regatta series is the North Sails Doublehanded Distance Race. Driven in part by a recent demand for race-day formats that require fewer crewmembers, and the expectation of a coed distance-race medal being added to the 2024 Olympic Games, NOOD Regatta organizers, in partnership with North Sails, added the one-day race to all events on the five-event circuit.
This daytime challenge, on April 3 only, will send competitors racing a variety of boats on a 10- to 20-mile course around Tampa Bay.
The high-tech single-person A-Class Catamaran class, which represents the largest fleet in the St. Petersburg NOOD, has two divisions—Foiling and Classic—consisting of 14 and 25 boats, respectively. The classics are traditional catamarans while the foilers foil.
In addition to the Melges 15, Thistle, and A-Class Catamaran fleets, the NOOD event features Melges 24, J/70, J/24, and Lightnings, as well as three PHRF handicap classes. At the conclusion of the regatta, one class-winning competitor will be chosen to compete in the Helly Hansen NOOD Caribbean Championship in October in the British Virgin Islands.
Considered North America’s largest sailing regatta series, the 2021 National Offshore One Design (NOOD) schedule will host five national events and one international championship in the Caribbean.
February 12-14 – St. Petersburg, FL (Revised: April 2-4)
March 19-21 – San Diego, CA
April 30-May 2 – Annapolis, MD
June 11-13 – Chicago, IL
July 22-25 – Marblehead, MA
TBD – Caribbean