This past weekend while Brad headed out of town with his father for a family event, I put on my running shoes and took Haydn for a short jog down the road where it ends past a number of other boatyards at Bembe Beach and a great view of the Bay.
I walked onto the boat yard property for the Annapolis Sailing School, and a guy walks up to me and starts chatting to me about the boats and the school and what happens in the yard and informs me he's the Asst. Manager. His manager walks up a little bit after that, pets Haydn and we talk a few minutes before a couple of other guys, who are prepping a boat for the race, walk by and one recognizes me from work and says hi. They say they need a third on their boat, the skipper's wife couldn't make it and I'd be doing them a big favor. I think about it a moment, then go check out the boat I'd be racing on, and tell them yes, but I have to run back to CALIX, pack my racing gear and make sure Haydn's set while I head off for the day. How long before they were leaving the dock? I had 30 minutes! I ran back, really ran. I grabbed my gloves, some sunscreen, my gortex pants, etc., and drove back to their boat.
This past weekend was the annual NOOD Regatta in Annapolis. It's a three day event, starting on Friday. I hadn't planned or even thought about racing, so to end up on a boat so randomly was probably the best way it could have happened. NOOD stands for National Offshore One-Design, which means that while the boats are technically rated for off shore sailing (ocean), mostly the boats that enter the races are of the same classes and there are many classes of boats. The great part about one-design is that the skill is in the handling of the boat.
The Viper 640 is a relatively new boat and the Annapolis area has only a few so far. For the Charleston Race Week, about two weeks ago, 41 Vipers competed. The largest start anywhere yet. Exciting for a very fun and relatively easy boat to sail. This coming weekend, back at Annapolis Sailing School, Viper is having a demo weekend and I might go check it out for fun.
But back to the race. The day was mostly sunny with a little wind that starting dying out just as we left the dock. We weren't too worried about getting to the start line in time since the race committee was having issues with setting the course du to there being almost no wind. Mostly it was helpful that the tide was going out, fast, and that sped us to the Fleet 3 area. There were 5 other Vipers to compete against. Not a big class at all compared to the J/80s and J/105s that had about 30+ boats each, but it still made for good, competitive racing.
Our Vipers lead off each race series, the first of three for the day of which I think started sometime around Noon. The first race was tough heading upwind (with almost no wind) into the aforementioned outbound tide. Each time we tacked, we thought we could make the mark, but we had to try about 3 times before we finally got to the mark and headed downwind. We had to do the upwind leg twice and so we didn't make the same mistake regarding the current again and made it on the first tack. It was wild to watch other boats, the bigger classes, fight the current as well. One boat didn't manage the mark, hitting it and then having to do a penalty circle. We watched too much of it unfold before us while we fought to reach the mark that first time.
The second race went pretty smooth minus the spinnaker halyard knotting up while we deployed it. It was a much more fun race with a freshening breeze. The skies were getting a little more overcast as the day went along, but no storms. Friday had been overcast and foggy with no wind at all and no races got off. That was not the case for Saturday. For the third and final race the race committee decided to make it 5 legs so we would finish upwind and headed home toward port. By this time the wind was over 10 knots headed to 15. This was going to be challenging for our boat. We were probably 100 pounds lighter crew wise than any of the other Vipers, we just weren't big people! Ideally a Viper's crew is between 500-600 lbs altogether. Us? Not even 450! The first upwind leg was a rush! The boat was humming. The insanity started when we found ourselves heading to the mark on a port tack while a large grouping of the big boats were on a starboard tack and bearing down on us, we had to tack into midst of the big boys. Our fearless skipper nailed it, but geez, that was a little crazy. We set the spinnaker and flew down the course with the waves kicking up to a few feet with all the chop from so many boats and the wind. We were surfing one minute the cresting the next. At the bottom of the course rounding the last mark, our spinnaker halyard got stuck and while most of it was hauled into the chute, we experienced the inevitable all stop with it acting like a sea anchor right under us. Luckily we were out of the path of the bigger boats as the halyard caught and we were past the mark. So safety wise, we weren't going to get run over. My work mate hauled the spinnaker in by hand at this point. The skipper turned the boat upwind and we finished the day with 15+ knots of wind spraying us down all the way into port. By the way, beer does not taste that good with added salt...
We got the boat tied up, the sails off and then all the crews of the Vipers joined around a few picnic benches to discuss the day's events. It's a good class of boat that shares knowledge and tips and sees it as a way to get people excited about the boat, the people, racing and enjoying sailing in general.
What about the tan lines!?! Here are my first tan lines of the year from wearing my boat shoes during a day of racing in the NOOD... (promise they are there, a zig zag across the top of my feet in opposite directions)