America’s Sunshine State is the epicenter of winter racing, there’s no doubt about that. Over the next three months, and up and down the peninsula, one-design classes will sail their respective winter regattas in balmy breezes and board shorts before heading to the big February classic on Tampa Bay—the Helly Hansen NOOD St. Petersburg. The self-proclaimed arts, food and culture center of Florida, St. Pete has consistently delivered great winds and unrivaled nightly parties, and with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete roaring into town the following weekend, the city’s pulse will most certainly be racing when the NOOD gets underway.
In other words, there will be plenty of action in February and one of the easiest ways for out-of-town teams to get in on the fun and enjoy this winter rager is a turnkey raceboat charter. For 2022, the St. Pete NOOD will host the emerging L30 Class, which will have as many as six boats on site, rigged and ready to go.
The L30, new to the United States, is a slick one-design 30-footer conceptualized by Ukrainian Olympic 49er medalist Rodion Luka and designed by Andrej Justin, better known for the RC44 monohulls of the long running international 44Cup pro/am sailing series. L30 class racing has been concentrated in Europe over the past two years, but with the establishment of a U.S. dealer and support center in Venice, Florida, Luka and partner Alexander Ivanov are eager to get American sailors into what they know as the best dual-purpose sportboat available. To do so, they’ve laid out an exhaustive race-charter tour that starts with four events on Tampa Bay this winter before going northbound to Charleston, Annapolis, Chicago, and eventually the Marblehead NOOD in Massachusetts—with stops between.
This is the plan at least, and with three or more European teams committed to racing in St. Pete, Luka is keen to fill the remaining charters.
“If we did it in Europe successfully, then why not here?” Luka says. “Other classes have done something similar, but these boats are not just good for racing; they’re comfortable, so they’re great for distance races, weekend cruising and corporate events as well.”
The inaugural L30 Grand Slam Series has four regattas: Davis Island YC’s Commodore’s Cup in late January, the NOOD (Feb. 18 to 20) and the Hillsborough Bay distance race in early March, followed by the Grand Slam Final (March 6) where the top-four teams compete for $10,000 in prize certificate money. Luka says charters can be booked now for the St. Pete NOOD (RACING and CHARTER ) and the entire series.
The particulars will appeal to teams or individuals looking to get south for racing and cross-training without the hassle of towing, rigging and derigging boats—that will all be taken care of. “The [insured] boat will be launched and assembled, sails bent on and tuned,” Luka says.
For the St. Pete NOOD there will be one day of training followed by three days of course racing. Teams can train for additional days (with additional charter fees, of course). Each boat’s provided six-sail inventory includes two gennakers, a code zero, two jibs (No. 1 and 3) and a mainsail. All the required equipment is onboard as well: VHF, AIS, safety equipment and high-end race electronics. Ivanov says there will be a shore team on hand to manage overnight maintenance, if required.
And speaking of overnight, Luka says charterers can go ahead and sleep aboard: “It’s very comfortable for four people,” he says. “It was designed to sleep aboard.”
Wake, race, rinse and repeat.
If this all sounds good, here’ the nitty-gritty: The charter fee for the NOOD racing is $7,800. The training day is an extra $1,450. The fee is less, of course, for those who bring their own sails, which the Europeans will likely do. Those European squads will have a head start on the L30’s boatspeed and handling and they’re coming to Florida not for the beach. They’re coming for the sailing, says Luka. But fear not, he assures us. The boats are dead-nuts identical. First-time teams may not be as competitive out of the gate, but “if they sail one or two regattas, they can likely win the third.”
The recommended crew combination for the L30 is four to five sailors, Luka says. Teams typically one-design race at the 300-kilogram (660 pounds) class minimum. Four people onboard is good for mid-range windward/leeward racing. “If it’s fresh, five is good. Some teams race with six, but that’s one extra and you don’t need too much weight on the rail because the boat is quite narrow and high, so when the boat is heeled [on its lines] hiking doesn’t do as much.”
In terms of skill sets in the crew, there are no unique needs, Luka says. The bow is a straightforward job for anyone familiar with furling headsails and rigging the gennaker sheets for inside and outside jibes. The jibs are not gigantic and the boat is properly winched, so the trimmer need not be a beast. An experienced tactician and a driver familiar with sailing a narrow-hulled boat like the L30 should round out the squad.
It’s a very straight-forward boat in terms of getting to 90-percent efficiency, Luka says. Tapping the extra 10 percent by massaging the boat’s balance with twin rudders, the trim tab and the sails to change gears is all part of the fun of L30 racing.