As befitting a regatta named after the multi-faceted Ted Hood – sailmaker, yacht designer, inventor, yacht builder, and America’s Cup-winning skipper, designer, sailmaker and builder – the Storm Trysail Club’s Ted Hood Regatta, sailed August 21 – 23 in Marblehead, MA, had a wide variety of courses, sizes and types of yachts. The 45 participating boats included everything from a Rhodes 19 one-design fleet, to larger keelboat one-designs (J/105’s and Etchells 22’s), inshore course ORRez big boat classes, PHRF racers, a Double-Handed ocean racing class and an ocean race with, appropriately enough for a regatta named after Ted Hood, a 12 metre coming out on top!
The THR (as it’s affectionately known) ran a total of 8 inshore races over the course of three days (Aug. 21-23); four races Friday, and two on both Saturday and Sunday, plus the ocean race on Friday night for the Double-Handed and Ocean Race entries.
While the pandemic did not dampen the enthusiasm for the race, the usual shore-side festivities were eliminated entirely, and other precautions were put into place. “The Storm Trysail Club is historically focused on safety,” said Storm Trysail Club Vice-Commodore Ed Cesare. “Usually that means on-the-water safety training and race equipment requirements, but with COVID-19 we have been additionally focused on health and safety as it relates to the pandemic. Clarke and his team worked tirelessly to bring off this event safely and responsibly. And, I think it is fair to say that the sailing community around the North Shore are grateful for their efforts.”
The usual Skipper’s Meeting before the regatta was held via Zoom, and a COVID-19 release form had to be completed every day by all racers, all race committee members, and every volunteer. Each boat was then required to sail by the committee boats and verbally confirm that the release forms were executed each day. Furthermore, those forms are to remain onboard the boat until October 15th.
Three days of around-the-buoy racing began Friday in perfect conditions. Winds 10-14 knots allowed all three racing circles to get in four very competitive races. Saturday’s winds were much lighter and, after a postponement of 1.5 hours, conditions had improved to seven knots of breeze. Although it was shifty, the committees worked hard so that all three circles were able to get in two races.
Sunday saw an AP fired at 1200 hrs, but the seabreeze filled in an hour later. The fleet enjoyed 16 knots, providing a great end to the regatta with several boats battling right to the last finish line to win their classes.
For Friday night’s ocean racing portion of the regatta, the Race Committee was concerned with the very light winds that were forecast for Saturday morning. With course options ranging from 64nm to 127nm, the RC chose to send the Double Handed class (which consisted of boats generally smaller/slower than their Fully-Crewed counterparts) on the shortest course, while the Fully Crewed group sailed the medium distance (90nm) course.
As predicted, there was great sailing for a good part of the night but the breeze died in the morning and a few competitors from both groups elected to retire. Valiant, the 50-year-old 12 Metre built to contend for the America’s Cup in 1970 and helmed by local skipper Gary Gregory, won the PHRF Fully-Crewed class, followed by the Swan 56 Tamontana with owner and STC member Todd Barbera aboard.
In the Double-Handed group, the J/109 Hafa Adai, was under the command of another local sailor, Eliot Shanabrook. (“Hafa Adai” is a greeting used in the Mariana Islands that is roughly the equivalent of “Aloha” in Hawaii.) This was Eliot’s first THR, and he raced in the Double-Handed division with his son Reid. Eliot describes how he and his son divvy up the load: “Reid makes ?’s of the sail- and boat-handling decisions and I make ?’s of the tactical/navigation decisions. The last third of each generally features some ‘lively’ father/son discussions!” What would he say to others who might be considering entering the race for the first time as he did? “Do it! Whether it’s one-design, big boat day races, crewed or DH overnight races, there’s something for everyone.”
Roullete, an Etchells 22 owned by Tomas Hornos, delivered a standout performance with 8 straight bullets in a very tough one-design class, and that performance was followed closely by Brouhaha, a J/105 skippered by Ric Dexter, who’s almost perfect record was marred by a “mere 2nd”. “There were several maneuvers that we were able to pull off in at least 1/2 of the eight races that put us in winnable positions and kept our lanes clear,” describes Rick. “Many tight tacks and jibes made a big difference overall. The crew was on their game the whole weekend. The lines and courses were square and well managed. Short races were appropriate for the conditions and we got in lots of races. I cannot remember a regatta where we actually got 8 races in 3 days!” Rounding out the one-design winners was Clark Uhl on his Rhodes 19 Woodstock.
Two handicap rules were utilized for the inshore racing; ORRez and PHRF, with ORRez divided into two classes. Betsy McCombs’ Farr 395 Scheherazade edged out a close win – by only 2.5 points – in Class 1 and Scirocco, a J/33 captained by Ward Blodgett and Liz Smith, won Class 2 on a tie-breaker! John Alexander’s C&C 33 Urgent took the PHRF class by only two points in another hotly contested group. Talk about tight racing!
Event Chair Clarke Smith was well pleased with the regatta. “COVID-19 really complicated our planning for the event. We had shifting guidance and a dynamic – to say the least – situation, but we were extremely happy with the turnout under the circumstances, and the regatta came off without a hitch. Putting on a regatta, even under normal circumstances, takes a substantial amount of time and resources, most of which happens behind the scenes. This year was especially challenging. I’d like to thank PRO Alan McKinnon, Jason Mahar – Chief Judge, Cutter Herlihy – Sponsor, and Race Committee Member, and Committee Members Joel White and Jamie Noyes. Also, Henry Brauer for the use of his RIBCraft, and Gifted of Larchmont for getting us the trophies while they endured the recent blackout down in Connecticut.”
“Also, regattas like this one would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors: Safewaters Underwriting Managers, Goslings Rum, East Regiment Beer Company, North Sails, Herlihy Electric, Sudbury Products, and Phil Smith Photography. I’d also like to especially thank Marblehead Animal Hospital. This is the first time I’ve ever heard of a veterinary clinic sponsoring a regatta, but they provided all the hand sanitizer for the participants and graciously offered their very sterile facility as a protest room. Thankfully no protests were filed. I’m used to hearing a lot of barking in a protest hearing, but this would have been a little different!” ■