Dark and Stormy
Dark and Stormy
Moments of brilliant competition shined through the rain-soaked 2010 Sperry Top-Sider NOOD Championship. (Photo Gallery)
Ken Schram's Detroit team never did catch a lucky break aboard Sea Haas. The lightning bolt that zapped Schram on Day 2 also zapped the boat's refrigerator. When I came aboard on Day 4, crewman Ted Neisley warned, "If you don't want to vomit, don't open the fridge." Even after the crew jettisoned the spoiled shrimp and other perishables, a pool of fetid water lingered in the bottom of the appliance, repelling all efforts to clean up the foul-smelling mess. The refrigerator was off limits, but there was cold beer in the cooler.
The Detroiters did have one advantage over the competition—resilience. When the wind died during Day 3's race from Virgin Gorda to Jost Van Dyke, it didn't take long for most teams to turn on the engine and head for the anchorage. Not Team Detroit. The previous night at the Bitter End YC, they guaranteed victory and proudly defended that claim at the bar until the wee hours of the morning. Now, as the Sea Haas bobbed in place in six-foot swells and hangover-amplifying heat, they weren't about to give up. "We were sitting there going nowhere and everybody else was motoring in," says Schram, "The guys looked back at me and said, 'Look, Ken, we're in no hurry to get to the bar. We're going to be lying around somewhere. We might as well lie around out here.'"
As the race wore on, it turned into a standoff between Team Detroit and Team San Diego, both boats bobbing like corks in the windless swells. Finally, Bill Campbell's California crew relented. Team Detroit, the last boat bobbing, was the winner. It wasn't pretty, but it was a bullet, and they deserved it.
The most thrilling competition of the week, however, came after sailing was through. Prior to the closing ceremonies on Norman Island, Team Chicago took to the VHF to organize an impromptu dinghy race. Representatives from all teams motored over to the starting line with their Sunsail-issued, Tohatsu-powered inflatables. The race was on. Dinghies rubbed rails as each pilot twisted the throttle while lunging forward to get their craft on plane. The tenders zipped around the perimeter of the mooring field, sounding like an flock of tiny, buzzing biplanes, and curious onlookers emerged from cockpits to survey the commotion. Seattle skipper Mike Johnson separated from the pack and crossed the line first; even a last-minute, desperation shortcut couldn't save Detroit bowman Andrew Lockhart from bringing up the rear aboard his sputtering, puttering steed. It was a rough week in paradise.
2010 Sperry Top-Sider NOOD Championship: Results
Location, Skipper, Race 1, Race 2, Race 3, Race 4, Race 5, Total Points
1. St. Petersburg, Steve Lopez, 1, 2, 3, 3, 6, 14
2. Larchmont, Tom Babel, 3, 6, 2, 3, 1, 15
3. Seattle, Mike Johnson, 2, 2, 5, 3, 5, 17
4. San Diego, Bill Campbell, 4, 7, 1, 2, 4, 18
5. Marblehead, Russ Silvestri, 7, 5, 4, 3, 2, 21
6. San Francisco, Scott Whitney, 6, 3, 6, 3, 3, 21
7. Detroit, Ken Schram, 5, 4, 7, 1, 7, 24
8. Chicago, Rob Rafson, 8, 8, 8, 3, 8