Shiro Noguchi is a self-made 5O5 sailor, literally.  Noguchi got into the International 5O5 class way back in 1968 when he built a boat with a friend. The Japanese sailor attended his first overseas regatta a year later, racing in the 505 Far East Championship held in Hong Kong

Noguchi participated in the 1985 5O5 World Championship that took place in Enoshima, Japan. Business commitments prevented the class veteran from attending worlds for the next three decades.  That lengthy layoff will come to an end this September when Noguchi competes in the 2017 SAP 5O5 World Championships, being held Sept. 20-29 off Annapolis.

“Always, I was thinking to sail the 5O5 again when I had more time,” Noguchi said. “Three years ago, I retired and met a skipper and got back into the class.”

Noguchi, who resides in the coastal prefecture of Kanagawa, will be sailing with Takao Fijita. This year’s championship is expected to attract 35-40 foreign entries representing at least 10 different countries, but the one from Japan stands out.

It has been a long time since a Japanese team competed in 5O5 Worlds and it is a real coup for Annapolis that Noguchi and Fijita are traveling nearly 7,000 miles to do so.

“I don’t believe we’ve had a Japanese entry at worlds for 30 years. It’s important for the class because Japan has a rich dinghy sailing history and bringing them back into the fold could be a huge boost to the 5O5 Class,” said Jesse Falsone, chairman of the 2017 SAP 5O5 World Championship.

“Like most older dinghy classes, the 5O5 struggles to remain relevant in the sport where designs are rapidly evolving and participation remains either stagnant or declining. The 5O5 still offers the very best one design dinghy racing and a wonderful sailing experience. My feeling is that if this one team has a very positive experience at our worlds they might bring that enthusiasm back to Japan with them and spark a re-birth of the class there.

Noguchi, 69, got into competitive sailboat racing aboard an OK Dinghy he built himself and has also campaigned a Laser, Flying Dutchman, Soling and Tornado. The Fujisawa, Kanagawa native fell in love with the 5O5 from the outset and has competed in a total of five world championships – Hong Kong in 1973, New South Wales, Australia in 1976, San Francisco in 1981 and Adelaide, Australia in 1983 in addition to the aforementioned 1985 event in his home country.

“I learned of the 5O5 from a book describing sailing techniques that was written by Marcel Buffet. I was very fascinated by the hull shape,” Noguchi said. “Also, while reading a book written by the great Paul Elvstrom, he said the 5O5 was the best two-man dinghy.”

Noguchi and helmsman Miyuki Kai were one of two Japanese teams at the 1981 Worlds hosted by St. Francis Yacht Club and pulled off quite a feat by winning Race 5. There were a whopping 18 entries from Japan at the 1985 Worlds in Enoshima, where Noguchi and skipper Aiko Saito placed 10th overall.

“We are very much looking forward to coming to Annapolis and competing against the very best 5O5 sailors in the world. I think this championship will be my last one so I am sure it will be a memorable experience,” Noguchi said. “I have heard from friends that Annapolis is a beautiful port with many sights such as the Naval Academy. Most important, the weather is similar to Japan with not so strong wind every day. We are a very light team (150 kilograms, 330 pounds) and heavy air is not our specialty.”

Noguchi has been involved with boat design and construction while employed with GH Craft, an Art and Science Composite Engineering and Manufacturing firm. He helped build JPN52, the International America’s Cup Class yacht the Nippon Challenge syndicate used to challenge for the Auld Mug in 2000.

Takao Fijita has been competing in the 5O5 class since 1980 and also attended the 1985 Worlds in Enoshima along with the 1987 Pacific Championship in Singapore. The 62-year-old switched to the Fireball class and attended multiple world championships before taking up keelboat racing for many years.

“It has been six years since I have sailed the 5O5 and I am excited to participate in the Annapolis Worlds with such a legendary sailor as Shiro,” Fijita said.

Members of the local organizing committee have helped the Japanese team make arrangements to compete at the 2017 SAP 5O5 World Championship. Mike Renda, who is working with all foreign entries on travel and logistics, arranged for Yoguchi and Fijita to charter a boat from Massachusetts sailor Tom Hurwitch. Additionally, a host family has stepped up to provide free housing for the visitors from the Far East.

There are also entries from Australia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland and Poland already entered in the 2017 SAP 5O5 World Championship, being co-hosted by Eastport Yacht Club and Severn Sailing Association.


NAME: Andy Smith
AGE: 49
HOMETOWN: Nottingham, Great Britain
OCCUPATION/EMPLOYER: Operations Shift Manager in a 2000MW Coal Fired Power Station. German energy company UniPer (formerly E.ON).

CURRENT SAILING PARTNER: I’ve been sailing with Tim Needham since the end of 2009 when we bought our first 505. Prior to sailing together we competed against each other in different Fireball teams. Tim is a great crew and we remain close friends on and off the water

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ATTENDED: Since 2010 in Denmark all the worlds except Hamilton and Port Elisabeth. I also competed at Hayling Island in 2006 with Norman Byrd alongside Fireball sailing that year.

TOP FINISHES AT WORLDS: Fourth in 2014 at Kiel and seventh in 2106 at Weymouth.

NOTABLE CAREER RESULTS: Winning Kieler Woche in 2016 and also UK Nationals/Pre-worlds in 2016. We were also the 2013 UK National Champions and the 2014 French National Champions. Placed second at 2014 Pre-worlds in Kiel.

FAVORITE 505 SAILING MOMENT: Lots! Majority of 2016! Big breeze and clear blue skies in Hyeres, Just after winning Kiel week and, being told by Wolfgang Hunger’s shy young son that I was the best sailor! Flattered, I smiled and said “no chance” and suggested that he should tell his Dad instead!

The Kiel worlds and pre-worlds I think tops it. Mixing it with Mike Holt for the first time and realizing that all our hard work had paid off going quickly and having the consistency to finish top eight in every race. Having now sailed in the class for seven seasons I can actually confirm that it is the best dinghy I have ever set foot in and the people thatsail them and associate with them from all over the world are the nicest you will ever meet.

QUESTION-AND- ANSWER SEGMENT

Q: I know you come from other one-design dinghy classes. What attracted you to the 505?
A: I’d always thought that 505s looked like the ultimate boat since being in my teens and seeing magazine photo’s and occasionally being able to see one sailing. It was a huge class in the UK in those days.  
My father worked with John Kobilanski, who was a pretty good 505 sailor. One winter we stored his boat in our garage. I spent many hours looking at it! I always dreamt that one day I would sail one!  At the age of 15 I was lucky enough to have a sail in a pretty good 505 at school, but no racing. In my 20s I started sailing Fireballs and after a number of years getting to grips with trapeze boats. The 505 always seemed like a natural progression. In 2006 I was lucky enough to get the chance to sail the 505 worlds in Hayling.  That year gave me a real insight and after a year or so hatching a plan with Tim (Needham), my garage was big enough and so we bought a boat at the end of 2009.

Q: You enjoyed considerable success in the Fireball, Mirror and other classes. Can you provide a quick rundown on your accomplishments in other classes?
A: I started my sailing career in Mirror’s, but I didn’t enjoy much success in the class until I returned to sailing them in my late 30’s with my son Tom, when he was around eight. It was a perfect window for both of us when he was old enough and the Worlds were in the UK 2009. We managed to win! My proudest moment in sailing!  
Prior to that I sailed Fireball’s for many years and the most successful years were winning the Europeans in 2003, the 2004 Worlds in Adelaide and runner up in 2005 in the UK. We also won the Europeans in Perros Guirec, France in 2006.  Aside of that I have sailed other ‘national’ classes winning the Miracle Nationals in 1995 and a number of Open Meetings and Inland Championships in all the above and also the Scorpion dinghy.

Q: How does racing a Fireball or Mirror translate to the 505?
A: There are obviously many similarities to sailing any dinghy well. In Fireballs and Mirrors there is less to adjust so the emphasis, certainly in the Mirror, is on strategy with very small differences in boat speed and close racing.  
There were many interesting combinations of older and more experienced versus young, light and very fast! The Fireball is more adjustable in terms of the rig and is more comparable to a 470 in terms of performance. In the 1990s it was an extremely competitive UK class and you could regularly expect 50-60 boats at Open Meetings.  The Fireball fleet in the UK all used very similar hulls, rigs, foils and fit outs all being pretty much identical. There were a number of different sailmakers. As a result it was almost like ‘strict one design’ racing, so important to learn to sail the boat quickly in combination with learning to be a good racer with excellent boat handling all essential in order to do well. All of that is clearly really important with the 505, but there is also more with the 505!

Q: What did you find dramatically different about racing a 505? Did you need to learn or improve anything in particular to be successful?
A: I think the 505 is similar in the fact that all the basics of sailing apply. BUT, it’s more physically demanding, everything happens that bit quicker and, in addition, crucially requires a good ability to optimise the boat (particularly the rig) across the wind range whilst also being able to exercise the race skills. In the 505, with so many options of hull, rig and foils that it can take a while to understand.  
When we started 505 sailing properly in 2010 we seemed to “hit the ground running” – concentrating on sailing like we knew how. But then we started to really think deeply about it in order to try and get better. We probably began to overanalyse which resulted in a drop off for a while.  At the same time you have to keep everything in context and the fact that there is so much strength in depth in the 505 fleet, particularly below 10 knots I think. That was where we really felt we had to find something. We started to make changes with foils and rig settings and alignment. It started becoming possible to understand more about what worked and what didn’t.  We also worked hard with our long-standing sailmaker P&B, which has supported me for 20-plus years and this also helped massively. We coupled everything into prioritising what was important and how we could make adjustments with our boat and our rig through the wind range. While doing all this it’s easy to forget how to actually race! Tweaking our approach helped us become more consistent and allowed us to start properly racing again.  I think it has certainly helped me to learn the building blocks from other classes and then bring them all together with the 505.

Q: How much would it mean to win the 505 World Championship? What do you feel must happen for your team to accomplish that feat?
A: Winning the 505 Worlds would mean everything. There is so much depth and experience in the fleet, with Olympians and so many World Champions from other classes, that winning the 505 Worlds has to be a big deal for any dinghy sailor. We’ve worked hard at it for many years, assessing many pieces of the jigsaw in order to improve. To make it happen and to have any chance of winning in this fleet it is essential to continue to work very hard in improving our personal preparation and working to eliminate our sailing weaknesses. In addition, making our own share of luck and no mistakes, sailing out of our skins and being fast across whatever conditions we face. Oh, and really enjoying the sailing!

Q: What are your thoughts about coming to Annapolis for Worlds? There has been debate about possible light air days. Are you comfortable sailing in light air?
A: Annapolis sounds like a fantastic place to sail and a great city to enjoy off the water, although I have never been there before! The sailing area seems petty complex, with many opportunities to take advantage of wind and tidal effects.  
I’d agree that the September stats for Annapolis seem to suggest that the breeze is generally lighter rather than windier. However, from what I have seen of East Coast events over the last couple of years there can be a range of wind speeds.  It will be important to be quick across the wind range, with maybe a bias to lighter air. As I mentioned earlier, light airs was a big problem for us when we started out in 505s but over the last three or four years or so we have worked really hard to address that. It’s still difficult to be as fast as some of the really light teams in sub-10 knots but we have had some good results in lighter events over the last couple of years. Maybe a serious diet is called for! We will see…

Q: What can you tell us about the current state of the British 505 fleet? Is it strong, deep with talent, active? Are there plenty of good events around Great Britain?
A: Our home Worlds last year attracted in some good sailors from other classes and brought some notable ones out of retirement. We have some talented sailors and our results at the Worlds and other events last year reflect that.  
Our open meeting circuit, as with so many other UK classes faces some challenges.   There are so many dinghy classes in the UK which dilute numbers down and this can make it difficult for clubs to commit to running events for low turnouts. However, we do run a number of Open Meetings and training weekends each year, mainly focussed around the East and South coast but also spreading up into the North of England and Scotland.  Our Nationals over recent years have been particularly successful and we appreciate foreign teams from USA, Australia and France coming over to sail with us. We are lucky to be able to quite easily get over to the bigger events in Germany and France. We’re continuing to grow the UK fleet and would like to fit into the Europa Cup in following on from the successful Worlds in Weymouth last year when the calendar will accommodate.


NAME: Angela Stenger
HOMETOWN: Munich, Germany
OCCUPATION/EMPLOYER: Align Technology, San Jose, California

CURRENT SAILING PARTNER: I have been sailing with Nicola Birkner for the last 10 years. Nici represented Germany at the Sydney Olymics in 470 class in 2000.

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ATTENDED: Many!! My first time participating was in 1997 in Gilleleje, Denmark (however only in Pre-Worlds). I guess that was the event where I got kind of addicted to 505 World Championships and since then I have competed in all of them besides San Francisco. In 2000, I helped with the race management and in 2012 I served on the International Jury.

TOP FINISHES AT WORLDS: I guess our best result was in 2008 when we finished 23rd out of 123 teams in Palermo, Italy. Being by far the lightest team in the fleet, the conditions were perfect for us. Actually, we expect Annapolis to be somewhat similar. We are proud to have won the title of Female World Champion for two years in a row.

FAVORITE 505 SAILING MOMENT: There are soooo many of them. Since we are the only female team in the fleet that travels to Worlds in a regular manner, it´s not so much about final results as much as fighting the elements and every once in a while scare the rest of the fleet with top five placements. Last time, we scored a third in one of the races at Weymouth worlds. In Hamilton Island we won a race… however it was Pre-Worlds. We do like heavy conditions as well. I was proud that on the first day in Hyeres last year, lots of competitors decided to stay ashore due to the heavy winds, but we decided to give it a go and managed to get around the racecourse without capsizing, which even the big guys did not manage. And it’s an honor, if even World Champion crews come to us after racing saying: “ Girls, I don’t know how you manged this; I´m really tired and worn out!”

Also one of our favourite moments was coming back from racing in Port Elizabeth in South Africa and we were surrounded by two dozen dolphins, so close that I could almost touch them. Or to see the sea otters in Santa Cruz and the little shark in Hayling Island.

However the real best moments come when you arrive at Worlds and you have a chance to meet all your friends from all over the world. I´m blessed to have so many friends in many countries such as South Africa, United States, United Kingdom, Finland, Australia and so many other countries. It is wonderful to have the chance not only to meet while racing, but also for skiing and hanging out together at other times during the year.
 
Q: How did you get into 505 sailing and how many years have you been involved now?
A: My parents got me on a sailboat for the first time when I was six weeks old, so I guess there was no other chance than to go sailing. I did Optimist and keelboats to learn racing. After I was sailing 470s for a while, my good friend got me into the class in the late 1980s. I have not stoped sailing the 505 since.

Q: What have you learned about the class/boat over the years?
A: We are constantly evolving our technique, trim and boat-handling. Just in the last week, on our first training at Lake Garda in Italy, we were working to improve these areas.

Q: What do you love about the 505 as a racing dinghy and the class as a whole?
A: It’s challenging in many ways. There is always a good development of new features, we can go around the world to great places to sail, and it’s quite competitive. Just a great boat to sail.  

Q: Is there anything about the Annapolis 505 Worlds that appeals to you?
A: First of all – “Too old now to afford to miss a Worlds.” (That is not my quote, it comes from Pip Pearson!). Honestly, we expect that Annapolis will have very suitable conditions for lighter teams such as we are. Also, I have been fortunate to visit Annapolis a few years back and I really liked the club and the facilities there. I also had a chance to meet our principal race officer (Sandy Grosvenor) last year in Miami when we both were serving on the International Jury for the Sailing World Cup, so I know we can expect high performance race management, which is an important factor.

Q: Any thoughts about what you might do during your down time while in the Annapolis area?
A: We will enjoy Annapolis during the worlds and we plan to do a trip to North Carolina before the Worlds.

Q: In light of the father and daughter team in Australia not being allowed to compete in a 49er event, what are your thoughts about women racing with and against men?
A: The case you mentioned concerns Olympic racing and we are doing 505 racing on an amateur basis so we cannot compare. I can say nothing but the best about our male competitors. Usually they are very helpful and supportive, only sometimes a bit angry when we beat them. We would wish we had a bit more female competition!

Q: What 505 events, other than worlds, do you have on the schedule for this year?
A: We just got back from or first training event in Lake Garda, Italy. The first race will take place on a small lake in Germany which will serve as our last training before German Nationals in Berlin in May. After we will attend EuroCup in Lake Garda, do few smaller local events and finally go to Europeans to Warnemünde right before sending the boat to U.S.
You have competed at more World Championships than most people in the Class. Who is your most respected competitor?

In the 38 years I have been racing 505's, there are 3 standout World Champions that have skill sets that are vastly superior to everyone else. Peter Colclough in the 70's. Christer Bergstrom in the 80's. And Wolfgang Hunger currently.

Howard Hamlin, Region V

North American Champion 1990, 1992, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2014, 2015

World Champion 1999
505 sailor for 39 years
Photo Credit: 
marinemediaalliance.com
You have sailed with a number of different skippers over the years. Who has had the biggest influence on your 505 sailing?

Tim Collins has had the biggest influence in my 505 career. He taught me so much about the boat and sped up my learning curve. Having someone like that to learn from when you first get into the boat is a huge benefit. Not to mention that Tim is wicked fun to sail with.

Drew Buttner, Region I
North American Champion 2013
505 sailor for 13 years
You recently finished as the top American team at a World Championship less than 5 years after you started sailing the boat. Who has helped you climb to the top of the Class in such a short amount of time?

My partner, Brian Haines, has by far been the most influential person in our success as a team.  Brian started sailing the boats before me and, therefore, brought a level of experience and know-how that I was lacking.  Brian and I have also learned a tremendous amount from the veterans in the class.  The 505 class has certainly lived up to its reputation as a welcoming, supportive group of people.  Everyone from Doug Hagan who got us started in the boat with greenie, to Mike Holt, Peter Alarie, Steve Bourdow, Howard Hamlin, Mike Martin, Stuart Park, Andy Zinn, Jeff Miller, Carl Smit and the list goes on. All have been so incredibly open with information and guidance at every step of the way. 

By far the greatest thing about sailing 505s has been the opportunity to continue to improve my sailing by competing against and learning from the phenomenal sailors in the class.

Ted Conrads, Region V
505 sailor for 5 years

Photo Credit: photoboat.com
You are a convert from racing keelboats to racing the 505. Who took you for your first ride in the 505?

I took myself for my first ride with son Ian in a boat I'd purchased a week before. Johnny Wyles was impressed. 

Doug McKiege, Region I
505 sailor for 8 years