Annapolis sailor Jeff Todd grew up sailing on Cape May, NJ, back when junior sailors sailed on Blue Jays and Sunfish and Atlantic Raceweek actually lasted for a full week. His dad owned a Thistle and a Columbia 9.6, so in addition to competing in the high school Laser circuit up and down the Jersey coast, he competed in a number of big boat events. While attending the College of Charleston, he competed on Solings and Harpoons on the sailing team. Afterward, he came to Annapolis to work for Hood Sails.
Following two years there, a five-year stint at Sobstad Sails, and a hiatus from the industry for a few years, Todd went to work for North Sails in 1995; 16 years later he is the service manager at North ‘s Stevensville, MD, loft. Being a sailmaker offers “a great opportunity to interact with people who share the love of sailing,” he says. “When you sail with the owners and crew, often the become like an extended family.”
You might also sail often and well enough to rise to the top of the pack, as his track record demonstrates. Since 1987, as a skipper, Todd has won in the MORC, J/29, J/35, J/22, IRC (as tactician) East Coast Championships and the J/29, J/35 and J/120 (as tactician) North American Championships. He has captured High Point honors in the J/35, Melges 24, and J/22 classes, as well as winning significant regional events such as the Annapolis NOOD, Screwpile, and CBYRA Annapolis Race Week Regattas. In late February, Todd eked out a victory in a tie-breaker at the Layline J/22 Midwinter Championship Regatta in Tampa, FL, and won CBYRA High Point honors for 2010 in the J/22 class (on Hot Toddy, as all his family boats have been named).
Todd met his wife Kim (nee Harquail), the product of a Severna Park sailing family, at the Solomons Island Invitational. The couple had raced extensively together on a J/29 and J/35, including a win at the J/35 North Americans in Newport, RI, in 1992. Their daughter Cassie (16) sails with them on their J/22, and while their daughter Shelby (14) prefers field sports, she plans to sail on a Club 420 this summer with friends.
Spinsheet: When was the last time you fell overboard?
At the J/22 North Americans in Cleveland, OH, in 2007. We had finished and were in the line for the hoist. I was holding onto a piling precariously and “splash,” in I went. I got a big laugh.
Do you have a memorable crash story?
No, but I have a good lost rig story. I was sailing with Bert Jabin on a Farr 37 in the 1980s. We were headed out to R2 when a big thunderstorm came rolling down the Severn River. We were the farthest out and saw all sorts of destruction and boats rounding up. We were preparing for it when the rig went down. It was back in the old days, so we didn’t have enough lifejackets on board. When the Coast Guard came by, we waved them off as quickly as we could.
Who are your favorite people to sail with?
Chip Carr, Chris Ryan, my dad Steve Todd, my wife Kim Todd, my daughter Cassie Todd, Rick and Rich Born, and John Moran.
When was the last time you got seasick?
During the Annapolis to Newport Race. We were sailing in 35 knots with the number four up and a reef in the main. I went down below and came right back up…
What magazines do you read?
SpinSheet, Sailing World, and Time.
If you were going on a road trip, what would you want on your playlist?
Jackson Brown, Brice Springsteen, and George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers.
If you had a T-shirt with your personal motto on it, what would it say?
Live for the day.
It’s Saturday in the off-season…how do you spend the day?
Running kids around to Girl Scouts and basketball, lacrosse, and soccer games, working with my honey-do list around the house, and helping with race committee for St. Mary’s High School sailing.
What’s your advice to a young racing sailor?
Sail as much as you can and with as many different people as you can. You will learn something different from all of them.
Can you give us one good sail trim tip?
What I like to talk to people about is main sail trim. When you’re close hauled in 10 knots, get the last three feet on top batten paralell to the boom. As a general rule, it works on a lot of boats.
If money were no object, what kind of boat would you buy?
A Melges 24. They’re fast and fun, and planing along at 15 knots puts a big smile on your face. We had one for awhile. Now we have kids.
A big congratulations to Todd for winning the J/22 Midwinters in Tampa, FL. Todd was also the first to install and test out the new J/22 spreader repair kit and has given us positive feedback. Be on the look out for a more in-depth blog post of the J/22 spreader repair kit written by our very own customer service expert, Warren Richter.