Can't Win 'Em All

On any racecourse at the Lands' End Chicago NOOD, perfection remains hard to come by.

T-Tens Start
John Burnham

The high pressure to the north continued to send a breeze down the lake today, lighter than yesterday but still strong enough for the 23 classes to sail three of four more races each. Plenty of leftover waves made the going challenging, and with the lighter winds, many fleets compressed. On the Tartan Ten course, the leaders from Friday had to work a bit harder to stay out front in the big 39-boat fleet. Even though Heidi Riddle's Nuts didn't win a race and piled up 11 points compared to 4 the first day, the Ohio boat extended its lead on Scott and Debbie Brusewitz Contumacious and Donald Wilson's Convergence. The latter won two races, but a 15th in the other race set his crew well back. According to Scott Bruesewitz, whose crew sails in a 10-boat fleet in Milwaukee, the NOOD is a chance to practice in a big fleet before racing in the North Americans. His team got a healthy practice opportunity in the last race: "We got a bad start," said Debbie, "but don't print that. He feels bad enough already. We were very deep, in 17th." Finding clear air when you fall behind is what big fleet-racing is all about, and the Contumacious team lived up to its name ("obstinate") in making a solid comeback on the run, doingsome effective damage control to finish 10th. The North Americans, for which Debbie Bruesewitz is the event chair, start in Milwaukee on August 11th. Meantime, Contumacious has plenty to play for on the last day of racing, 7 points behind Nuts and 4 points ahead of Convergence. On the J/30 course, Mike Bird's Circus broke the lock Dennis Bartley's Planxty had on firsts by winning the last race. With partner Charlie Wurtzebach steering, Bird's team nearly won the previous race as well, but Planxty took off alone to the left side of the beat and found clear air and a shift to make a big comeback. "Inquiring minds want to know," said Paul Dorsi, a crewmember on 6th-placed Defiant who was enjoying the post-race party, "if they got a lucky shift or had the iron genoa on?" Dorsi and the rest of the class admire how fast Planxty is, but according to Gerry O'Neil, Bartley's tactician, "Circus has been really fast all regatta. They did a 720 in one race and still finished second." In fact, despite carrying an OCS in its scoreline, Circus moved one point ahead of Billie Anderson's Hallel and Tex and Susan Hull's Hullabaloo. Bird, who is a fireman, said he and Wurtzebach had three other firemen aboard today, and that he'd have some more one-day crewmembers for Sunday, as soon as he recruited them. On the small-boat course off Belmont Harbor, the J/24 Spar Wars began to hit its stride near the end of Friday. Tom Kane's Red Eye Express has been virtually untouchable, winning all four races Saturday, but the fourth-placed Spar Wars, owned by Bruce Hubble of Boyne City, Mich., is starting to feel better. "We do one travel regatta a year," said Hubble's son, Adam, "and this is our third year. We're used to flat water and were unprepared for yesterday, but today we tightened the rig more and powered up the sails." It probably helped the nobody was seasick either as Spar Wars enaged in a jibing duel to hold off Mark Gannon's second-placed Gangbusters for a fourth place in one race, then hit the shifts and finished second in the last race of the day. Spar Wars also won a request for redress from the first day when the entire fleet, except Red Eye Express, sailed the course incorrectly. The protest committee agreed with Hubble that his score should be changed from DSQ to DNF, since he never finished the race properly, but they disagreed with Hubble's theory that points should be taken off his score. Lying three points out of third, Spar Wars' last chance to move up into the silver comes during tomorrow's racing. For cumulative results through Sat. (protests pending), click here.