2007 Sperry Top-Sider Chicago NOOD, Day 1:Beneteaus Boom in the (Not So) Windy City

Light winds limited all 17 divisions to one race apiece, but Beneateau 36.7 sailors found plenty to love.

ChiNOOD1St
Michael Lovett

The Beneteau 36.7 class is up for grabs. Of the 17 teams competing in the division at the 2007 Sperry Top-Sider Chicago NOOD, most are new to the class, many are sailing brand new boats, and some are racing in their very first Beneteau 36.7 event. The absence of a clear pecking order gives every team hope, as each race could be their coming out. Today was Manuel Cordero's time to shine. Cordero's Agitator crew got off to a fine start in the extremely light conditions of Race 1 and led around every mark of the course. "We had good boatspeed, good tactics, and that was that," says Cordero, who joined the class in 2006."It's a fun fleet," he says, "And there is very much competition. It will be a very long weekend. We have our work cut out for us."Among those boats sure to be agitating Agitator is Split Decision, which finished second today thanks in part to the mainsail-trimming of Chuck Norris. "We just snuck that second in by a hair," says Norris.Split Decision rounded the final windward mark in third place, but was able to pick up a place by sailing slightly lower than the competition. "It stayed light and fluky the whole time, and we just kept trying to get the pole back to steer down," says Norris. "Our only consideration the entire leg was keeping the boats behind us, and we ended up picking up the boat in front of us."Norris also races Beneateau 36.7s in Larchmont, N.Y., so he has witnessed the national growth of the class firsthand. "It's wonderful to see a one-design class that's actually working," he jokes.Antoni Czupryna is certainly sold on the 36.7 idea. Czupryna and the all-Polish crew of Erizo de Mar have been making constant improvements since joining the class earlier this year. "This was our first major race," he says. "We have a new crew, a new boat, it's a new learning experience." Finishing 13th in his first big race was just fine with Czupryna, who seems happy to be on the steep slope of the learning curve. "There were some boats in front of us that we probably could have taken, but we goofed up. What can I say?""It's a happy bunch," continues Czupryna. "We work together. There's no nervousness. Everybody tries their best, and if you mess up, that's fine. There's always next race."There is always next race, especially in the Beneteau 36.7 class.Today's light conditions limited all 17 divisions to one race each. The regatta continues through Sunday. For results, click here.