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Norwegian Wood Team of Fishers Island Wins 2019 IOD Worlds
June 25, 2019

Rain, fog and light winds did their best to stymie the 15 teams competing at the 2019 International One-Design World Championship in Marblehead, Mass., but six races were finally completed last week and a champion was crowned. For the fifth year in a row, the Fishers Island (USA) fleet produced the regatta winner; this year the title went to the Norwegian Wood team of John Burnham (helm), Peter Rugg, Beth Scholle, Charlton Rugg, and Jennifer Parsons plus final-day sub Reed Baer.

 

The sixth and final championship race gets underway under dramatic skies off Marblehead, Mass. All photos by Nicholas Schoeder.

The sixth and final championship race gets underway under dramatic skies off Marblehead, Mass. All photos by Nicholas Schoeder.

 

A total of 10 fleets from four countries were represented at the regatta, which employed the class-standard boat rotation in which teams switch to a different boat for each race. Sixteen boats were prepared for the regatta, with 12 loaned by Marblehead owners and four by Fishers Island owners. Staging this complex, week-long event were three groups working in partnership—the Corinthian Yacht Club, the Eastern Yacht Club, and the Marblehead IOD Fleet.

In addition to the Nor’wood syndicate team, which last won the title in 1996, the lead pack in the regatta included defending champs Jonathan and Isabelle Farrar (Fishers Island), 10-time champion Bill Widnall (Marblehead, USA), John Henry (Northeast Harbor, USA), and Evan Pettley-Jones (Chester, CAN).

Principal race officer Susie Schneider had her work cut out for her from the start, as the wind began to fade after a light-air practice on Sunday. Even though Race 1 got underway promptly, it was abandoned for lack of wind, soon after it was started.

 

With Marblehead’s color-coordinated spinnakers, the fleet heads downwind in a mild southerly during the first day of racing.

With Marblehead’s color-coordinated spinnakers, the fleet heads downwind in a mild southerly during the first day of racing.

On Monday, in a weak southeasterly that veered gradually to the southwest, Henry took the early lead with 5-1 finishes. The Fishers Island teams sailed consistently to end the day tied for second, while Widnall won the first race decisively but slipped to ninth in the second to stand fourth for the day. Pettley-Jones, Farrar and Widnall spent their evening hours in the protest room over a pin-end disagreement, and the result for the Canadian team was a DSQ.

 

Team Nor’wood of Fishers Island takes the first-place gun at the finish of Race 3.

Team Nor’wood of Fishers Island takes the first-place gun at the finish of Race 3.

Limited wind and plentiful rain and fog meant no racing on Tuesday, but after a few hours’ wait on Wednesday, a modest east-southeast breeze filled in, and John Burnham’s team found an extra gear upwind in the lump, winning both races and taking the regatta lead. Henry, Farrar, and Pettley-Jones each scored six points, so the scoring remained close, although Pettley-Jones would need six races to be sailed before being able to discard his DSQ score.

 

A typically close start as the fleet gets off the line for Race 4.

A typically close start as the fleet gets off the line for Race 4.

Unfortunately, the breeze switched off again on Thursday morning, and when it filled again, at 5 knots, visibility fell to a couple hundred yards. On Friday, however, a northerly came in with rain showers and a variable 6- to 12-knot breeze. The fleet left their moorings early and two more races were sailed.

Pettley-Jones came off the favored pin end, tacked to port, and dominated the first race. Team Nor’wood, in sixth at the weather mark, jibed into a good lane and moved all the way up to second on the run and for the lap that followed.

“Our onboard score-keeping told us we’d won at that point,” said Burnham, “but we weren’t taking any chances and decided to sail the last race.”

 

Team Nor’wood holds the Bjarne Aas trophy

Team Nor’wood holds the Bjarne Aas trophy, which the team won previously in 1994 and 1996. All five owners of Norwegian Wood sailed in the 2019 regatta (left to right)—John Burnham, Beth Scholle, Charlton Rugg, Reed Baer (sub for Jennifer Parsons on final day), and Peter Rugg.

With time for one final race, the fight was on for second place. The five-leg race was a wild one, with 1.8-mile legs (subsequently shortened) and a breeze that came and went multiple times. Team Farrar led the first two legs and covered the closest competition to the west on the second beat, then fell victim to an easterly shift that had more pressure, which sprung Widnall and Burnham on the right to ultimately take first and second. Pettley-Jones finished fourth and won the tie-breaker for second place against John Henry.

 

The fleet dresses up and smiles for the camera at the Eastern Yacht Club before the final awards dinner.

The fleet dresses up and smiles for the camera at the Eastern Yacht Club before the final awards dinner.

Huge congratulations and thanks are in order for the dedicated work of the regatta chairman, Greg Mancusi-Ungaro, and his team of fleet and club volunteers, plus all of the boat owners who loaned the fleet to make the event possible. Next year’s championship will be hosted by the Chester IOD Fleet in Chester, Nova Scotia.

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