With three bullets and only 16 points, Jud Smith and Team Africa win not only the J70 Class, but the Overall Trophy for the 2018 Marblehead NOOD Regatta this past weekend. This event was considered the J70 New England Championship. Doyle was proud to power not only the winning boat, but also 7 out of the top 10 Corinthian teams, and nearly half of the 54 boats racing. Norm Cressy, winner of the IOD fleet at this year’s Marblehead NOOD regatta for his 70th consecutive Marblehead Race Week, referred to Jud during his awards speech, as the “new kid” who came in asking for a job at the sail loft and designed his son’s Widgeon sails 40 years ago. As is typical with Jud, he is always looking forward and less focused on his recent victory than the coming competition. This event was used by many teams as a practice event for the J70 Worlds, which will be hosted by the Eastern Yacht Club in September. What better man to give insight into the venue than a long time Marblehead sailmaker like Doyle’s very own, Jud Smith?
The Marblehead NOODs had most of the top US teams competing and a few top non-US teams. Similarly, a majority of top teams will be competing at the Ted Hood Regatta at the end of August. It should be noted that in the summer months, like a late July NOODs, that the afternoon sea breeze is what is necessary for racing. Unfortunately, that sea breeze did not come to fruition on the last day of NOODs racing, but there was up to 18 knots during the last race on Saturday. Unlike summer months, the Worlds will depend on the gradient.
“Come late August, the water warms up to close to 70 degrees Fahrenheit and we move into a more gradient weather. There may not be many days over the next two months of windy days, so training in breeze in Marblehead will be hit or miss. Whereas it is not out of the realm of possibility in late September for Worlds, that we may have some windy days; especially if we have a frontal passage with a low-pressure system coming through west to east, which is a seasonal weather pattern for this area.” Jud expresses that this time of year will be very difficult to predict, even with a forecast a week before the event. With hour long races, the conditions could change during the race. “As with any venue, if it is light, it will be tricky and the scores will be more spread out. But if it is heavy, there will be lower scores and the top teams can more easily remain on top.”
Jud pointed out that, “You have to sail and execute every action at the Marblehead NOOD or any of these pre-World events under the same pressure as if its the Worlds.” A noticeable characteristic of top teams is that they are constantly observing their surroundings and making considerations that will lead to success: correct rig tune, good line pings, finding the best pressure on the race course constantly, keeping an eye on the competition, not getting into foul trouble. Jud sailed in the bow position last year and is skippering this year. “Regardless of your position on the boat, you need to be tending to your role consistently and helping the guy next to you.” Most boats were sailing the Marblehead NOODs with the same team they will be racing with for J70 Worlds, so in that sense, it was a vital event. However, “The Worlds will be a game of attrition, with a scheduled 13 races over 5 days. The teams that learn how to make come-backs and recover quickly, keep the boat moving without becoming unglued, and work together as a team will have a chance at the podium.”
Doyle has offered fundamentally the same jib design since La Rochelle in 2015, with a high clew for ease of in-hauling. It is good to see the rest of the market catching up with these ideas this year. Doyle One Design has updated some construction details, but there has been no reason to update any of our design molds in the past couple years. The cross-cut main, all-purpose spinnaker, and high clew jib are truly designed to handle all conditions from up to 35 knots in the Hamble, 12-25 knots in Porto Cervo, or 5-12 knots in San Diego; the designs have been effective in all sea states or conditions. Winning an overall light air Marblehead NOODs with 54 boats on the line indicates to our team that the designs will continue to perform well in the event of a light air Worlds.
Jud had a few tips for teams in regards to maintenance. First, that top teams have patience when furling the jib; “the jib must be unloaded, the bow down, and in light air, the jib halyard is temporarily bow string tensioned to start a clean furl. The jib is the critical sail, and cannot be beaten up, when it is really your ‘lifting foil." Hasty or sloppy furls can crease any jib, which impacts performance. Secondly, be prepared for weed. Some teams think they can get away without keep cutter, but Jud is a skeptic. “During a race, there is no good way to get rid of weed on the keel. Other methods are unreliable with this stringy seaweed that can get sucked up inside the trunk. It’s possible there won’t be a lot, but just like Miami, Marblehead is prone to a lot of weed floating around.”
In his NOODs interview, Jud mentioned the J70 does not hold lanes well because of a smaller sail plan relative to the weight of the boat, so it can be difficult to fight back from a bad start in a big fleet and getting out of bad air is of great importance. “The biggest difference between the Marblehead NOODs and the Worlds is the start line will have a mid-line boat, so you have a decision to make for a port segment or starboard segment each race.” Jud is confident that the Worlds PRO, Hank Stewart, is very good at managing a fleet size of 100 boats on the starting line as he has done with the J/24 Worlds in Rochester and other events. Regardless, there will be a lot of leverage to be gained or lost in where you choose to start on such a long starting line. “If you win the wrong end of the line, your best chance could very well be in the bottom third.” This perspective is based on multiple variables that may impact the J70 Worlds. The race track for the J70 Worlds is set quite far out from Marblehead’s typical race course, so competitors will need to be aware of potentially strong and nonuniform current in 125-150 feet of water. Marblehead can be a humbling venue, where picking the correct side is essential. Some teams might be better in light air or better in heavy air, “but at the end of the day, you need to not be over early, sail on a good tack, and try to be at the top mark in the top 20% to podium."
Watch Jud Smith's NOODs interview below:
Doyle One Design is very excited to be a sponsor for the J70 World Championships in the town where the Doyle brand was founded by Robbie Doyle. We believe all visitors will enjoy our scenic hometown, the Eastern Yacht Club, and the depth of competition racing at this much anticipated upcoming event.