May 2021 Newsletter

Greetings From The Prez

Upcoming Events

Spring Clinic –This Thursday, May 6th. Don’t miss this discussion with Jud Smith and Tomas Hornos on How to Win the Big One. The discussion will be moderated by Kim Pandapas. The event will run from 7-8:30pm via zoom. (link listed below)

Measurement DaysWith Nationals coming we have several measurement days with the first coming up: May 22nd-23rd. Another date TBD

Twilights Commence – May 27th The Twilight Series will start on May 27th, the Thursday before Memorial Day. Scoring will start June 3rd Start time for the Rhodes will be 7:06pm.

Spring Series – May 29th–30th Spring Series will kick off on the Saturday & Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.

Marblehead NOODsJuly 22nd-25th Hosted by EYC.

NationalsAugust 16th-20th at CYC.

In the design and construction world we often refer to the project triangle which balances constraints of quality, cost and schedule, noting that if you want something done on budget, on an expedited timeline, you will likely end up compromising quality. In my haste to get the April newsletter out before the start of family obligations on Easter, I sent it out without checking it as carefully as I should have and was quickly reminded of what happens when you rush; Thank you to John Casler and Nancy Blouin for keeping me honest. Without dwelling on it, I want to apologize to Jennie Aspinall, the first female Commodore at BYC, and Mike Ferro, a CYC commodore and long-time Fleet 5 Member, as well as to Jocelyn Cook for publishing a previous version of the Marblehead Community Boating Center update. The April Newsletter that is on the website has been corrected, complete with a link to the MCBC Survey results, and you can bet this newsletter had been double, triple checked.

On the sailing front, 28 short days until first gun! Are you ready? Have you registered for the Fleet, the Class and MRA yet? How about Nationals? Get all your registrations done in a matter of minutes by clicking on any of the links above.

In case you missed the last communication from the class, two important notes: 1) The proposed Amendment to Bylaw 12.02 was adopted with 78 Yays and 20 Nays. You may now sail sanctioned events with two crew members, declared at registration, if that is your preference. Please see page 2 for the full language. 2) We are sad to relay that our friends up in Manchester have had to cancel the East Coast Championships, set to be raced June 4th-6th, yet again. Many thanks Charlie Thomas, Yati Harsono and everyone else involved who has put so much effort into planning this event for 2 years in a row now. They say the third times the charm.. so maybe East Coasts in Manchester 2022? We’ll keep our fingers crossed. In the meantime, we have lots of great racing here in town this summer with Raceweek July 22nd-25th and Nationals August 16th-20th in addition to our regular Saturday and Thursday evening racing.

Feeling a bit rusty after an abbreviated 2020 racing season? We’ll continue our race course refresher with Ben Richardson’s article on Downwind Speed from the January 2017 newsletter, followed by Matt Hook’s article on how to sail a successful second beat, and how that strategy differs from that presented by Nat Taylor in April, on how to sail a great first beat.

And speaking of strategy, be sure to join us this Thursday night us for this year’s Spring Clinic, How to Win the Big One, where Jud Smith and Tomas Hornos will be giving away all their secrets ;). The show starts at 7pm on Zoom:

Hope to see you there!

Short Tacks

Measurement Days

Fleet 5 will have its first Measurement Day the weekend of May 22-23rd. If you have had work done and need to be measured, please reach out to Stefan at to let him know and set up a time.

Recycle that shrink wrap!

Thanks to Sustainable Marblehead for helping us to do our part to make boating more eco-friendly. Joan Thayer writes “You can now bring your used marine shrink wrap to the Marblehead Transfer Station and deposit in the dedicated shrink wrap bin on-site now.  The bin is located next to the scale house. This service is free. No permit-sticker required for dropping off shrink-wrap.”

Need a crew or co-skipper?

We received this from Rick Saunders: “Could you please put my contact info in the next newsletter, I’m a courageous member now but have been racing in Marblehead since 1980. I would also be interested in crewing, co skippering or chartering a race ready R19 for the upcoming season.



Welcome to Fleet 5!

We are very excited to announce the addition of yet another great sailor to the Fleet 5 family. Word on the street is that Chris Remeika has purchased 1680 and will be joining us out on the Rhodes line this summer. Welcome to the Fleet Chris, we can’t wait to see you out on the water.

Will this be the year?

We sure hope so! We received this from Kim Pandapas “This is a picture of Jeremy’s partially built mast.  So, progress.”

Crew for Sanctioned Events

The proposed Amendment to Bylaw 12.02 has been adopted. 78 Yay – 20 Nay.

The new Bylaw shall be as follows:

  • B 12.02 – The total crew complement per boat, including Helmsman, shall be no less than two for all races.
  • B 12.03 – The crew complement shall be declared at registration, shall apply for all races, and shall not be changed for any reason.
  • B 12.04 – The names of the crew on each boat, including Helmsman, shall be specified at registration.  Any substitutions will require the written consent of the judges.

Sailing the Second Beat

by Matt Hooks

Editor’s Note: I grew up racing with Matt at Pleon, as well as in college, and could not have been more excited when he bought 1683 and began racing on the Rhodes line. He quickly moved to the top of the fleet, winning Raceweek in 2019 in a nail bitter of a regatta, beating National Champion Dave Nelson in a tie-breaker. I asked him to share his thoughts on what makes a successful second beat and how that differs from sailing the first beat.

When the Pres first asked me to write an article for the Newsletter, she asked if I could cover “Last Day Regatta Tactics.” While I was flattered that Elise thought so highly of my last day regatta tactics, it was decided that we should let Jud and Tomas cover that topic as part of the “Winning the Big One” Spring Clinic. With more National and World Championships to their names than I have Race Weeks sailed, it seemed like the right decision… Instead, we decided that Second Beat Tactics was a more appropriate topic.

In most of the racing we do in Marblehead, the start of the second beat represents the halfway point of the race. On The Mighty Rhodes, this is typically a point where we evaluate the state of the race and our mindset often transitions from “racing the course” to “racing the fleet.”

At the start of the race the fleet is effectively even – the only way to get to the top of the fleet on the first beat is to sail that leg faster than the boats around you. Everyone has the same to gain or lose; the same risk/reward proposition. As a result, we focus on boatspeed, pressure, windshifts, clear lanes, and current. We are much less concerned about inter-boat tactics such as covering and fleet management. We are “racing the course.”

By the time the race progresses to the leeward mark, the fleet is no longer even – it has stretched out into a line of unevenly spaced boats. Each boat has something different to lose or gain and everyone’s risk/reward calculation is different. As a result, sailing the second beat is much more about managing risk vs. opportunity and being aware of the probable outcomes. In this phase of the race, we are more focused on “racing the fleet.”

When approaching the leeward mark and preparing for the second beat, it’s helpful to think about your individual “race within a race” as the boats that are ~20 boat lengths ahead of and behind you. Those are the boats that you’re trying to pass or defend against. If you’re worried about boats much further in front of or behind you, you’re concerning yourself with improbable outcomes. With that in mind, it’s important to evaluate your position within your unique “race within a race.” We bucket the scenarios into three groups that each require a different mindset for managing the second beat.

  • In-the-Pack: if we round in the middle of a pack of boats, we’re in a situation that looks much like the start of the first beat where we have about the same opportunity to lose boats or pass boats. As a result, we sail the second beat a lot like the first beat – focusing on boatspeed, staying in phase in an oscillating breeze or sailing towards a persistent header, and keeping your lane clear.
  • Leading: irrespective of our overall position in the race, if we are leading or in the top group in our “race within a race,” the risk/reward proposition is much different. In this case, we have more to lose than gain and we are much more focused on managing the

fleet to minimize losses than taking risks to maximize gains. A few things we often think about in this scenario:

  • We want to keep as many boats “in our pocket” as possible, which we define is same tack to leeward or behind.
  • In most cases, we’d rather play the side of the course that has more of our close-behind opponents than the side with fewer. We can’t cover the whole course, but we can err towards the side that poses the most risk. In a variable racecourse where it’s hard to know which side is favored, we’d rather be going to the “wrong” side of the course and covering five boats than going to the “right” side of the course and covering one, because in the moment it’s often hard to definitively know which side is “right” or “wrong.”
  • In the open part of the race course, we rarely tack directly on opponents that are close to us as this typically results in them tacking away and gaining leverage to the other side of the course. The loose cover is a much more effective way to keep competitors “in our pocket.” We’d rather lead and control the pack to the favored side of the course than send them to the other side of the course and lose total control. Again, we don’t know with certainty where the next shift is coming from, but we know we can stay ahead of our competitors if they are “in our pocket.”
  • Don’t be a hero. If you’re already winning your “race within a race,” it’s not worth risking the potential downside to take a wild risk that – in a rare outcome – would allow you to catch boats who are well ahead of you.

It’s worth noting that this overall construct works well in fleets of 15-30 boats on a decently long course where there is opportunity for the fleet to spread out. In really large fleets or on shorter courses, there are fewer gaps and you’re less likely to be definitively leading our losing your “race within a race.”

Also worthy of mention, this risk/reward thinking is particularly important in a long regatta with many races. If you’re looking for a race-win pickle jar, this might not be the mindset for you, but if you’re looking for consistency across a long series, hopefully this construct puts you in the best position to manage the risk/reward of the second beat.

Lastly, this discussion didn’t address some of the basic race course awareness you should have when preparing for a second beat, such as knowing the phase of the breeze (are you rounding into a header or a lift), evaluating where the upwind pressure is on the course, and getting a good rounding that gives you as much clean air and flexibility to tack as possible. Those are all pre-requisites for sailing a good second beat.

Fleet 5 Profile: Stefan Thibodeaux

By Christina Pandapas

Anyone who has spent time with Stefan knows he is passionate about many things, so it’s no surprise he threw himself into Rhodes racing with his special brand of unbridled energy. He is also giving back to the class, serving as Fleet Measurer and on the Nationals organizing committee. Stefan is not one to sit still. Be forewarned, you may feel exhausted just reading about how much he has going on, and how his life is going to get busier with an exciting new addition to the family in September.

What was the first boat you ever sailed?   
When I was in elementary school, my family bought a Hobie 16. I remember trying to trapeze and flipping a number of times. I really started sailing when I was 29 at the Indianapolis Sailing Club, when I was working for Eli Lilly. My friend, John Allen, bought a Thistle and we thought we would kick all these old guys’ butts, but we were dead last. We had no idea how to make the boat go fast. John and I spent a lot of time sailing that boat. I clearly remember when we won our first race. The wind was blowing hard and it was the first time that my wife-to-be, Julianna, sailed with us. On one of the last tacks, she missed the hiking straps. As she was falling out of the boat, I grabbed her and then we had one more tack to cross the finish. She thought I was being so gallant, but I only pulled her back in because we had to finish the race with the same crew we started with.

How long have you been sailing Rhodes?
Four or five years. I started sailing with David Rubin and now I sail with Peter Sorlien.

Why did you start sailing Rhodes?
I first started in Townies but they did not really race on Saturdays and there was no spinnaker. I really love flying the spinnaker, so I looked around and found the Rhodes. I think Steve Uhl introduced me to David. Obviously, I love sailing this boat. More importantly, I have enjoyed all the people in this fleet. Since I had never raced on the ocean before, it has been a learning experience not having marks on the shore and trying to understand the current as well as the wind. What I love most is all the sailing that we can do and all the people here who are so passionate about sailing.

What is your favorite non-sailing activity?  
I cannot sit still. In the winter, I love all forms of skiing: downhill, backcountry, cross country, skate skiing. Growing up in Louisiana, I never really experienced snow and I did not really start skiing until I was 28-29, but it is my favorite winter activity. I play the cello, not very well, but I enjoy the instrument and the challenge. The rest of my family are musically gifted, so I enjoy playing music with my daughter Evelina and my wife, Julianna. I grew up on a farm so I enjoy gardening. We have a vegetable garden which has been fun. I also like to bike, so I bike to work in Cambridge every day that I can. Building things is another passion. I have a woodworking shop and before we moved to Marblehead, I completely gutted and rebuilt our old kitchen and made the cabinets from scratch. Finally, I like to cook, read, work, and beat Julianna in gin rummy.

What do you do for work? 
I am a chemist at Novartis in early drug discovery. My current job is leading a team focused on developing a small molecule to treat sickle cell diseases. In the US there are about 100,000 people who are carriers of the sickle cell genetic mutation, but in Sub-Sahara Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia there are about 20 million people. In Ghana around 10,000-15,000 children are born with sickle cell and only 20 percent will survive to see their sixth birthday. If we can find a cure or low-cost treatment for sickle cell, we can radically affect the economics and open up opportunities for millions of people.

What is your most memorable sailing moment? 
Sailing with my wife on our Interlake while she was pregnant. As the season went on it become more and more difficult for her to move from side to side due to the centerboard. At the end of the season, we had to time the tack with her hoisting her belly over the centerboard.

What is the biggest bonehead thing a crew or skipper of yours has ever done during a race?  
There were so many that I have forgotten half of them, but I will have to go with not securing the jib halyard and having to climb up the mast before the race. That did make for a great story, though. That is what I love about screwing up; in the end you have another story to tell.

What is the biggest bonehead thing you’ve done during a race?  
There are too many to recount, but in general it’s along the lines of: They changed the windward mark, where is number 28, or I did not know that we had to round that mark to port.

What’s the best tip you could give someone sailing a Rhodes for the first time?
Enjoy the camaraderie; no one is giving out money for first place. We are lucky to be able to sail in a beautiful place with other people who are passionate about sailing. If you do not know where to start on the line or which side of the course to go to, just follow the fleet.

What book are you reading?
I am reading Small Molecule Drug Design, All at Sea Yarns, Homo Deus, and Understanding the Rules of Sailing. I just finished two great books: All the Light We Cannot See, a novel by Anthony Doerr set in World War II, and the nonfiction book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.

Name one thing about yourself that fellow Fleet 5 members might be surprised to know.
Our oldest daughter is expecting a baby in September, so I will now have a new child to try to infuse with a passion for sailing, skiing and science. I am looking forward to this new experience.

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Coming Soon – The Cook Family Boat Yard!

From Jocelyn Cook: Arriving just a few hours after my 40th birthday, the newest vessel in the Cook fleet: Windless. Should we be without wind and unable to sail, or for those days when the wind shuts off – she may be out and you can grab a tow in 🤣

She will also come in handy as both kids venture out in their own Optis this summer.  Adam is almost done with their requested paint jobs …

Got News? Let’s hear from you. Send your gossip, rumors and embarrassing tidbits

Mail Bag

Not much in the mail bag this month, though we did receive this from Nat Taylor: I’ve retired the Pats jersey (for a year or two now) and moved on to the Celtics :). Noted, though with a two-year-old, I’m going to give myself a pass on this one. I did make out on the water in 2019, but the sleep deprivation was still in full swing at that point.

Notice Board

Rhodes “Mariposa” For Sale: Hull #606, fixed keel, midship traveler. Doyle sails bought in 2017 used only 3-4 times, set of practice sails, oar, anchor, all lines, boat cover, rudder/tiller. Comes with trailer. 2011 rub rail replacement, 2013 shrouds replaced, 2014 bottom sanded, keel faired by Mystic Scenic!! 2016 ribs replaced, 2017 new main and jib, 2017 mast welded, all inner-rigging replaced. $5000 OBO. Text or call Susan Crowley 617-797-3082

Rhodes for sale giveaway: I have a 1976 Rhodes 19. Two years ago, during the fall storm boats came loose in Beverly harbor, one struck my boat on the mooring, severing the forestay so the mast broke and torqued the foredeck so it is torn from the hull. The hull is intact as well as the rest of the stays. It is on a trailer which is suitable for short distances. I would gladly give it away. The boat is in my back yard in Prides Crossing. Please contact: Tony Mason, 583 Hale St, Prides Crossing, MA 01965, Cell 518-466-6118

Clear Out Those Old Sails – Reclaim all that space in your garage, attic or sail locker. Please consider a tax-deductible donation of your old sails to either Sail Salem at or Courageous at

Nahant Fleet Needs Sails – The Nahant Sailing Program (NSP) has 6 Rhodes 19s that are used to teach kids and a twilight program for adults. The majority of funding comes from an annual fund raiser by The Friends of Nahant Sailing. The Rhodes sails need replacement, so if you have or are purchasing new sails, please consider donating your old ones to “The Friends of Nahant Sailing.” Not only will it help the program grow, but the donation is tax deductible. Please contact Bob Cusack at (781) 581-1159 or if you are interested.

Savanah Fleet Looking for Sails – Our Savannah Fleet is interested purchasing used sails. Our boats are not looking to compete at a national level but our club racing is very competitive and we want to refresh the sail inventory. If you know of any of your members that are looking to purchase new sails and looking for a partner to reduce their overall cost, we would be very interested in sails that are in good shape. Please contact Doug Powelson, Captain, Fleet 49 at or 912-665-5485

Looking for SailsChad Atwood writes: Where can a person find a nice set of recreational sails for my Rhodes 19. Thanks, Chad Atwood:  443-995-6773 or

Looking for a spare mast – John Springer writes: My O’Day Rhodes 19 was dismasted in a storm at the end of last season.  We’re still somewhat new to the boat, and to racing, so I’m hesitant to commit to investing in a new mast. As such, I’m hoping to find someone who may be parting out a Rhodes, or perhaps upgraded to a new mast. Any suggestions, recommendations would be most appreciated. Best regards, John Springer

Please mail postings and updates to

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Racer’s Resource Board

Dave Whittier of Stuart Marine in Rockland Maine is the exclusive builder of Rhodes 19s. Call Dave at 207-594-5515 for pricing on new boats, used boats, repairs and parts.

Doyle Sails at (978) 740-5950 for new sails and repairs.

Chris Small – Full restorations and glass work-, (978) 500-9021.

Seacoast Specialty Marine Call Greg Dolan at 978-255-2769, click on, or visit on Facebook @seacoastspecialtymarine.

Neal Lewanda – Repairs, fiberglass/gel coat, rudders, keel work, etc. –, 978-525-2700

Benjamin Parker of Aequoris Yachts and does glass work and boat repair. Contact Ben at 58 Gregory Street, Marblehead (207) 319-3583 or

Waterline Systems provides a complete range of services. Call at (401) 682-1661.

Cape Cod Shipbuilding makes Zephyr extrusions and a full range of mast and boom hardware and fittings. Call Dick Landis at (508) 295-2240.

The Trailer Shop – Located on 87 High St. in Danvers for any trailer repairs. Call Dan Sullivan at (978) 750-6799

Sailor’s Tailor for boat covers, rudder bags and marine stitching.

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The next Fleet 5 Newsletter will be published in October. Newsletters are distributed by email. To request being added to (or removed from) Fleet 5’s distribution list, please contact Martha Martini at To respond with comments, suggestions, and/or news, email Elise Nash at

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