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Widnall's Javelin wins IODs & Coveted Cressy Trophy in Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta at Marblehead

by Tony Veneziano 25 Jul 2021 23:25 PDT July 22-25, 2021
2021 Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta Marblehead © Paul Todd / Outside Images

There were mere points between the top boats in several classes and one tie that needed to be broken on the morning of the final day of the Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta at Marblehead Race Week. The race committees on all four race circles set up with best intentions of running a few more contests, but as soon as the warning signals started, so too did the squalls and 25-knot gusts that forced competitors back to safe harbor.

The scores of Saturday remained, and with that, Bill Widnall's crew on the International One-Design Javelin emerged as the top boat of the class's tiebreaker and winner of the Norman Cressy Trophy, awarded to the winner of the most competitive fleet of the Marblehead NOOD.

"It wasn't a runaway win," said Widnall. "Going in today, any of the top-four boats could have won. It was contestable until the end."

"The lead changed three times over the first three days because the fleet is very competitive," he added. "For Marblehead there is reasonably strong current, but it's pretty uniform as far out as we were. In terms of pre-race prep, we always look at the weather and the geographic distribution of the wind across the entire race area. That got us into trouble in the first race of the regatta because we thought the wind would be stronger closer to Boston, but for the first windward leg it was the exact opposite. That was our sixth. But overall, the weekend's strategy was to get a darn good start and be mindful of the shifts."

The IODs shared the same race circle as the Etchells and J/105 fleets, and today the J/105s were the only fleet to start a race before it was abandoned when a squall swept across the course. Charlie Garrard's team on Merlin had started perfectly and were well ahead on the first leg before the race was called off, but five wins in six races over the previous two days was plenty to secure the win over Ric Dexter and the team on Brouhaha.

Ted Hardenbergh and his teammates on Natasha were also hoping to get in more races as they enjoy sailing the classic and deep-keeled Etchells in strong winds, but they too had plenty of margin—10 points over Michael Jobin's Magic Dragon—to win the nine-boat class.

On the regatta's "Halfway Rock Line" the regatta's big fleets—Rhodes 19s, J/70s and Viper 640s—no races were started and reports of broken boats and parts were reason enough for the race committee to call it quits. Kim and Kristina Pandapas, on the Rhodes 19 Mo Betta were plenty happy to stay ashore and preserve their boat. As one of the lighter crews in the fleet, they excelled over three days of light-air conditions to claim the top-spot by 5 points over Joe Fava and Elise Nash's Dinner Out.

"We had good starts that put us in positions to sail our own races," Kim Pandapas said, "and that kept feeding on itself. This ended up being a light regatta and that is one of our strengths. Sail fast and keep the boat moving in those conditions. Kristina and I have been sailing together for a long time and because of our crew weight and my propensity to sail a bit higher than others allowed us to get away clean at times."

The nearly 50-year-old Town lapstrake dinghies, icons of the Marblehead racing scene and the fastest growing local one-design class had 14 boats racing this weekend and after three days, Berit Solstad's Lille Venn emerged as the top boat, by a mere point, and Solstad says she was happy to not race in the strong winds for fear of breaking a spar or having to bail water all day long. The lighter conditions they enjoyed in the opening days of the regatta suit the Town class best.

Harnessing the wind with new sails, Solstad and her nephew Tor did not win a single race, but top-five finishes were just enough to eke out a win. "On Thursday and Friday our boat was moving really well, but on Saturday our boatspeed wasn't as good. I think that's because there were some really strong currents, something I'd never seen before here."

On the regatta's busy "Tinker's Line" racecourse, local ace and National Sailing Hall of Famer Jud Smith won the J/70 fleet again (as well as the J/70 Northeast Championship), thanks to a string of race wins on Friday (they won four of six races altogether), but the standout performance was that of the top Corinthian team led by longtime boat partners Jim Raisides and Charlie Pendelton.

With their teammates on Bad Hombres, Raisides and Pendelton sailed one of their best regattas ever, capped with a race win on Saturday. The outstanding performance in a fleet deep with talented and professional sailors put them second behind Smith in the overall standings, but first in the Corinthian-scored sub-division.

On the same race circle, Mark Zaleski's team on the Viper 640 Team Z won its division by 4 points, which put them in the running for the Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta's championship in the British Virgin Islands in October, and when they were selected as the regatta's BVI Challenger, Zaleski said he was keen to go and represent the Viper fleet.

"We were just saying the other day that our wives were starting to complain about us sailing too much," Zaleski said, "and this is the perfect reward that I'm sure they'll be happy to have us win."

Sailing with Zaleski was his father Chris and longtime sailing friend, Jake Bradt. They're new to the Viper 640, Zaleski says, having bought the boat about a year ago as they intend to race the class's North American Championship in Norton, Connecticut, in early October.

"It's a class I've always wanted to get into," Zaleski says, "and I've always wanted to race something with my dad and Jake. We saved up some money and bought the boat and we've been hitting every regatta we can to get familiar with the boat and learn how to get it around the course, focusing on our boathandling and what makes the boat go fast. It's been a big learning experience for us, and while we were a bit slow upwind, we made some big advances with every race. That's what's all about for us right now: learning the boat, the trim and the tuning before the North Americans."

Kyle Easton and his teammates on Momma's Boys were the top team of the four-boat RS21 fleet, which consisted of several youth teams using the regatta for the upcoming Sears Cup Trophy (the national youth keelboat championship), and on the Laser circle, which only completed one day's races on Saturday, Bill Rothwell won by a single point having won four races and carrying an OCS in his scoreline.

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