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Junior Race Week hits Marblehead waters next week

PAUL TOOD/OUTSIDEIMAGES.COM (©Paul Todd/OUTSIDEIMAGES.COM)

MARBLEHEAD — The Pleon and Boston yacht clubs will be two of the hot spots in town next week.

Beginning next Thursday, the 2019 Helly Hansen National Offshore One Design Regatta at Marblehead Race Week runs through July 28. The Boston Yacht Club will host more than 150 teams across 14 fleets. 

However, Monday, launching out of Pleon, is Junior Race Week — a chance for teen sailors to test their sea skills in the waters off Marblehead.

Rolex Yachtsman of the Year, Jud Smith of Swampscott won last year’s 2018 J/70 World Championship at the NOOD.

“It’s a new year,” Smith said. “And, a lot of good boats are registered. We have three past world champions in the fleet, including myself, Peter Duncan, and Joel Ronning, so the top end of the fleet is going to be stacked.”

Training and preparation were vital to Smith’s past success, and this season he plans to share his knowledge as a coach and mentor. Smith talked of the importance of working out the kinks throughout the season so teams can peak at the right time. 

“The best method I’ve seen is to do a regatta every month or so, with intensive training in between,” Smith said. “With the wind and currents in Marblehead, the NOOD will serve as a perfect training platform for the World Championships in Torquay (England) later this season. 

“Marblehead is one of the top ocean venues in the country, and with the NOOD Regatta coming here each year, it keeps the area at the forefront of one-design racing,” Smith said. “It’s the biggest regatta of the season for many of us in New England, so everyone gets really excited to go out and compete.” 

Kim Pandapas is a favorite among a number of top teams in the Rhodes 19 Class, which is a long-standing fixture of the Marblehead NOOD. 

“We have a whole bunch of combinations of family members sailing together,” says Pandapas. “Most boats sail with just two people, so the barrier for entry is much lower than the bigger boats.

“Most of the Rhodes 19s in the fleet were built before 1965, but the fleet remains relevant today. They’re relatively slow compared to some of the newer fleets, but there’s a lot of nuance to sailing them. The Rhodes 19 fleet has always emphasized community, social activities, and good old-fashioned fun. They are just as competitive as any boat in town. The longevity of class is proof of that.”

The regatta in Marblehead will also feature the 2.4-Meter Class for the first time. A one-person keelboat, the 2.4-Meter has been used globally for adaptive sailing. In 2000, the class was designated as the single handed boat for the Paralympics, but with Paralympic sailing being taken out of the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, the fleet is looking for new outlets for competition. 

Shan McAdoo of Essex is relatively new to the 2.4-Meter class, but uses the fleet to stay competitive as he overcomes his physical challenges. 

“I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 22 years ago,” says McAdoo, “The 2.4-Meter is the perfect boat for me to stay active in the sport. The fact that sailing has been taken out of the Paralympics is a tragedy, because sailing is the perfect mental game for disabled athletes.” 

A veteran of the Etchells, J/24, J/22, Rhodes 19 and Snipe classes, McAdoo continues to adapt to the 2.4-Meter. To sail them, sailors sit forward facing in the boat and operate everything with their hands. 

“Once you sit down in the boat, everybody’s physical disadvantages disappear,” says McAdoo. “I barely have use of my legs, but this format allows me to keep sailing. The regatta organizers have been very accommodating in getting this new class started at the NOOD, and the racers couldn’t be more excited to come to Marblehead and mix it up.” 

The will produce the final entrant for the Caribbean Championship sponsored by Sunsail in the British Virgin Islands on Oct. 27 to Nov. 1.

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