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Big Shifts at Sailing World Texas NOOD Regatta

September 20, 2002
Diane Chase

Last night’s thunderstorms gave way to a clear, sunny day on Galveston Bay at the 2002 Sailing World Texas NOOD regatta with light, shifty winds. Locals struggled in these conditions, but the event’s lake-sailing contingent merely got a taste of their home waters, topping many of the fleets. Indeed, Matt Mayo, of Dallas, and his crew aboard Tricky Monkey edged out Monsoon by 2 points in the Melges 24 fleet. Mayo, with trimmer Larry Ford, and crew members Bill Thomas and Tony Guinn who referred to themselves as “monkey meat” when asked their role aboard, are among the growing number of Melges sailors in the Dallas area.

“It was like chasing squirrels,” said Mayo, when asked how he handled the shifts. “You just never know.” Mayo said that he and his crew were fortunate at their first start, when nearly all the other Melges were ever the line except Tricky Monkey. Although he wouldn’t admit that the start had boosted spirits among the crew, he said it gave them a whopping advantage. When asked how he and his crew were feeling about tomorrow, Mayo said “Tomorrow is a brand new day.”

That was the same answer given by the crew aboard Monsoon. Although it’s their second Melges 24 regatta, owner John Davidson and his crew are excited about their potential in the fleet.

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“We love the Melges,” said skipper Fred Soward, of Corpus Christi, Texas, “It’s fast, it’s wet, and there’s not a lot of stuff to hit your head on.” Soward said that he and his crew, tactician Steve Harrison, bow Ivan Perez, and Davidson, all improved their performance today and are looking to take top honors away from Tricky Monkey in the five-boat Melges fleet tomorrow.

A tie for first place has heated up the competition in the seven-boat Catalina 22 Non-Spinnaker fleet. Lake sailors Bryan Keathley, of Arlington, Texas, with bow Michael Frendi, and trimmer Richard Buttimer, aboard Caliente, finished the day with just three points, finishing first in the first race, and second in the next. They’re tied with Larry Spruiell, of Dallas, and his crew, bow Jacquelyn Spruiell, and trimmer Jon Platt aboard Popeye.

“We’re used to shifty winds from lake sailing,” said Keathley. “But one thing we’re hoping to get tomorrow is more wind. We’re an athletic crew, and light air really takes away from our advantage.” Keathley was particularly happy with his performance because his boat was T-boned three weeks ago at the Genoa State Championships and severely damaged. Keathley took Caliente to a marine repair shop and she wasn’t ready until this Thursday. Caliente was delivered directly to Lakewood YC instead of her homeport in Arlington, giving the crew no practice time.

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When asked how he feels about tomorrow, Keathley said he’s very optimistic about his chances to move ahead of Popeye. “We just hope they ate their spinach so that they can give us a good challenge. In fact, I’ll buy them their spinach.”

Despite premonitions that any spinach given to them by Keathley might be “laced,” the crew aboard Popeye is equally revved up for tomorrow.

“We should have done first and first,” said Larry Spruiell. “We like the wind conditions. In fact, they’re not as shifty as our lake in Dallas.” Spruiell says his crew improved steadily and has high hopes for a top performance tomorrow.

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In the 23-boat J/80 fleet, Craig White, of Ft. Worth, Texas, and his crew, foredeck Bret Stewart, and trimmers Matt Romberg and Keith Fowler had “one of those days when everything goes perfectly,” said White. With two first-place finishes and a second, White and his crew came off the water “ecstatic.” White said he expected his crew would be competitive, but hadn’t toyed with the idea of leading the fleet on the first day of the event. “The level of competition is amazingly high in the J/80 fleet at this event,” said White. “Having 23 boats on the line made getting a clear start the object of the game. Playing the shifts was also of major importance.” White said his crew’s work was exemplary.

Although they hail from the coastal city of Houston, Texas, Laurie Zotzky and her crew aboard the Corsair F28 Persevere were undaunted by the shifts, and topped their six-boat fleet. Foredeck and Corsair F28 class president Mike Zotzky said he’s excited that the number of Corsairs in the area has doubled since the class was first held at the Sailing World Texas NOOD two years ago. Mr. and Mrs. Zotzky, along with trimmer Kirk Livingston, and spinnaker trimmer Voldi Maki, describe themselves as “trimaran converts.”

“Our strategy today was to do just what the boat was built to do: Go fast,” said Mike Zotzky. “We did well in both our starts, and that was important, too.” Zotzky said their competition was a mix of excellent catamaran sailors and newcomers to the fleet.

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