Dark and Stormy
Dark and Stormy
Moments of brilliant competition shined through the rain-soaked 2010 Sperry Top-Sider NOOD Championship. (Photo Gallery)
Well, the rain never stopped. It fell, intermittently, in drizzles and deluges, from the moment competitors arrived in Tortola, B.V.I., for the 2010 Sperry Top-Sider NOOD Championship right through the final dash from taxi to airport.
Through the foggy remnants of Tropical Storm Tomas, however, I caught glimpses of brilliant competition. During the regatta's fifth and final race—from Soper's Hole, Tortola, to Norman Island—a pack of boats separated from the fleet and engaged in a spirited battle. In search of current relief and better breeze, skippers Tom Babel (Larchmont winner), Russ Silvestri (Marblehead), Scott Whitney (San Francisco), and Mike Johnson (Seattle) short-tacked their Sunsail 39s up the north shore of St. John. "At one point, we were neck and neck with Russ Silvestri," says Babel. "Sure, we were tacking through 120 degrees, but I thought to myself, 'That's Russ Silvestri. He's working his juju on us, and we're working some of ours on him.' I mean, it doesn't get any better than that!"
With the guidance of tactician Bobby Brooks—a Texan with a Texan's tolerance for hot sauce—Babel was able to work right of the pack, catch the final shift, and take the gun. Team St. Petersburg—led by skipper Steve Lopez and Paul Hogan look-alike Scott "Alligator Dundee" Wolfersberger—placed sixth in the race but held on to win the regatta by one point. On my way out of town, I ran into Lopez waiting out a downpour beneath an awning at the Sunsail base. "It was a weird week, but we had a great time," said the newest NOOD champ, who had a few hours to kill before catching his flight back to New Jersey. "I never thought I'd be saying this, but I wonder if they've got a movie theater on the island?"