Twenty One Vipers at Marblehead Race Week - Viper 640 International Class Association

Written by Justin Scott

Vipers at Marblehead NOOD RegattaMarblehead Race Week is the “homecoming” regatta of  the Viper circuit. The class association was born in the upstairs bar at Maddys sail loft in Marblehead five years ago and that gathering of the original half dozen early Viper owners has grown into a national class of well over 100 boats. Marblehead Race Week is where we invite local North East Vipers and Vipers from around the country to come back to Marblehead, enjoy a dinner at Maddys on Thursday evening, have some fun sailing for three days off Tinkers Ledge and see where it all started. It is a rendez vous regatta, with the emphasis as much on catching up with friends as it is on the typicaly close and tactical racing.

What is not to love about this charming New England Town in July, with its narrow winding streets full of sailors and the pageant of one of the largest One Design regattas in the country? We had two Vipers from the Ontario – Canada fleet, and another from the Savannah- GA fleet but the winner of the “Furthest Travelled award” was undoubtedly Tony Chapman and the crew of Hydra who brought their boat all the way from the Arizona YC and and wore their unmistakable “Desert Fleet” technical shirts.

Friday’s racing was blown off with breeze in the high twenties, gusts in the thirties and limited visibility for the RC to manage three lines and twelve fleets. One of the highlights of the racing over the next two days  was the duel for first and second place between the “Mambo Kings”  and “3 Grins”

Saturday’s racing was extremely tactical with the breeze oscillating between SE and SSW as a backing gradient breeze and a sea breeze battled it out. This was combined with a strong spring tide which was running at 2 knots over the course.

The first race was owned for the first two legs by Dave Nickerson and Moise Solomon sailing on 3 Grins. But at the leeward gates, the leading two boats chose the left gate and headed right up the course and the Mambo Kings sailed by Justin Scott, Drew Hamilton and Tripp Burd rounded the right gate in third place and found breeze and a left shift to cross just ahead of 3 grins at the next crossing.

In the second race, Brian Bennett and his Canadian team of Cathie and Albert was leading at the leeward mark but a tight reach from an overstood gybe and a difficult rounding allowed 2nd place Zack Freeborn (who, by the way sailed a fantastic regatta overall) and 3rd place Mambo Kings to slide inside at the rounding. The 3 grins sailed a compelling last downwind leg to grab 2nd and keep the pressure on those darn Mambo Kings, closely followed by Jason Weisberg.

By the start of the third race, the tide was rippin’ and it was setting the fleet away from the start line .  The fleet was sagging away from the start. Mambo Kings started towards the pin, pulled the trigger early, and hit the line moments after the gun, two boat lengths clear of the boats on either side, tacked and crossed the fleet on port. I must confess that it was a “Yahooooooo” moment.  This was a very close tactical race with Mambo kings loosely covering the fleet in phase and a tight battle between Bennett & Co, 3 Grins, Kay Van Valkenburgh and Team Rattler

On Sunday, the breeze was stronger and much more stable. 3 Grins dominated and won the first race and it was “game on” with the Mambo Kings.  In the second race of the day and the fifth of the regatta, Mambo Kings and 3 Grins found each other half way up the starboard side of the course and started match racing. We must have thrown fifteen tacks at each other, gradually letting the front of the fleet catch up and pass. Mambo Kings finally pinned 3 Grins on the starboard layline with bad air from the boats just ahead. 3 Grins was pushed back into the peloton while Mambo Kings had a lane and stayed with the leaders.

Going into the last race, it looked like 3 Grins had a lock on second place but Lady Luck dealt a tough hand.  They brushed the leeward pin at the start, and with honor they restarted. In a fleet of 20 Vipers, it is murderous trying to make your way through the peloton, but some how they did it. They passed Mambo Kings in the process ,who was discovering how incredibly good the sailing was throughout the fleet, and 3 Grins made their way all the way up to 6th, enough to hold on to 2nd place on a tie breaker with Bennett. For 3/4s of the last downwind leg they were still in 6th place almost on layline to the finish. Then a puff coming down the course enabled Dan and Mike on Rattler to soak down to leeward and snatch 6th place leaving 3 Grins one point behind Brian Bennett.

Dave and Moise have been sailing a Viper for less than four months. They will be a force to be reckoned with on the race course.

The Marblehead fleet wish me to pass on our warm thanks to all the visitor Vipers who came to our town.  This year’s memories include :- martinis being served by Kay and Karen from a cooler at Parkers Boat yard as we pulled our boats, dinner for all crews and friends at Maddys on Thursday evening – with the owner of Maddys announcing that she will sponsor a trophy for the viper class at next year’s Race Week, two parties under the tent on the Eastern Yacht Club lawn looking over the harbor, dancing by the pool at the Corinthian YC late on Saturday night, but most of all………….a gathering of good friends on fast boats!

Thanks and appreciation to, EYC, Sailing World and the NOOD organization, Maddys sail loft, and the lead sponsor, Sperry.

There are photos by local shooters Leighton O’Conner and Brad Earl, as well as the official NOOD photgrapher Tim Wilkes.


Viper 640 Class Series Summary, Preliminary
Pl Sail # Skipper From 1 2 3 4 5 6 T
1 54 Justin Scott Royal Thames YC 1 1 1 2 2 (8) 7
2 USA74 Brian Bennett Sail Newport 3 5 2 (6) 1 2 13
3 18 Dave Nickerson / Solomon Moise Mystic River Mudheads 2 2 3 1 6 (7) 14
4 98 Kay VanValkenburgh none 6 (10) 4 5 3 1 19
5 USA82 Jason Weisberg Stamford YC 4 3 (16) 7 5 5 24
6 USA55 Paul Zimmerman Marblehead Boating Center 5 4 7 4 (21\DSQ) 4 24
7 39 Daan Goedkoop Eastern Yacht Club (19) 11 6 3 8 3 31
8 85 William Freeborn Sail Newport 8 6 8 (14) 9 11 42
9 50 Daniel Tucker SAYC 17 (18) 5 13 4 6 45
10 81 Charles Goodrich Stamford Yacht Club (14) 8 12 8 11 9 48
11 CAN70 Matthew/Mark Rowlinson Bronte Harbour YC (13) 13 9 12 7 10 51
12 87 Harvey Barnes Nepean Sailing Club 7 7 13 (17) 14 14 55
13 52 Fletcher Boland MBC (16) 14 10 10 12 13 59
14 109 David Guggenheim Savannah Yacht Club 9 12 11 15 16 (21\DNS) 63
15 22 Ben Steinberg none 12 16 (17) 11 10 16 65
16 810 Chip Schwartz Parkers Yachting Center 18 (20) 15 9 13 12 67
17 71 Antony Chapman Arizona Yacht Club 10 17 (19) 16 17 17 77
18 77 Brad Dumas Mallets Bay Boat Club 11 15 (18) 18 18 15 77
19 41 Duncan McIntyre EYC 15 9 14 (21\DNC) 21\DNS 21\DNS 80
20 44 Andrew Burton EYC (20) 19 20 19 15 18 91

26 Jul, ’09, 16:52