DETROIT–While their beloved Red Wings look to finish off the professional hockey season by claiming Lord Stanleys cup, some of Detroits best sailors turned their attention toward pursuits more suited for a balmy, late spring day in the Midwest. The 2002 Detroit Sailing World NOOD Regatta brought 214 boats and over 1,000 sailors to the Bayview YC for three days of racing on Lake St. Clair. The relatively small, and shallow, lake that helps connect Lakes Erie and Huron is known for the capricious nature of its winds, but today couldnt have been any better. The tempartures hovered in the 70s, and the occasional cloud offered some needed shade, and relief, for skin not used to the rigors of a summer day on the water. And then there was the wind.
The 15- to 20-knot westerly that whipped up whitecaps on the Detroit river out in front of host Bayview YC in the morning put more than a few sailors on edge–many teams have yet to shake off a winters worth of rust–but it would provide for some memorable racing. The breeze, as forecasted, slowly clocked around to the NW. Coming right of the Detroit and Grosse Pointe shores, it was always mild, occasionally warm.
“This was almost like sailing down south,” said Peter Griffin of the North American 40 Kemosabe, which recorded a first, third, and second and currently sits second behind John Baubours Valero VI. “Big breeze and warm air. It was great.”
Griffin said that the breeze on Circle A, which was located 7 miles northeast of the eastern end of the Detroit River, started just north of west and clocked 15 to 20 degrees during the course of the day, and occasionally gusted to 25 knots.
“We were going very well upwind,” he continued. “We hit some good shifts–they werent real big ones. One side of the course was favored from time to time. We had some trouble down wind, but everyone had their share of problems. It was who was making the least mistakes.”
Kemosabe blew up a spinnaker during one run, but Griffin wasnt too upset about that. After all, he noted, it couldve been much worse. A collision during pre-start manuevers before the third race between two members of the Grand Prix division left the Tripp 47 Undaunted with a gaping wound in the side. Herbert Mischs Corel 45 Tiki II is leading the Grand Prix A division–both divisions started together–while Mark Symonds Pterodactyl won all three races in Grand Prix B. Chuck Storms J/105 Detour was on track all day, putting together a first and two seconds for a four-point lead in the 20-boat J/105 class. Rob Amslers J/120 Merlin was equally as impressive in the J/102 class and holds a 3-point lead.
On Circle A, Rich Stearns and a pick-up crew showed that while experience and familiarity are always nice, the lack of these two traits in the crew is certainly not fatal. Sailing one of Stearns new LS-10s, a re-design of the Tartan 10 which sails level with the popular 33-footer, the Chicago resident finished third in the first race, and then blitzed the 24-boat fleet–the regattas largest–with a pair of bullets. Just two points behind is Jeff Sampson and Wick Smiths Money Shot. In the 10-boat S2 7.9 fleet, Crime Scene stole three consecutive races. Owners Gary Shoemaker and Bill Jenkins have staked themselves to a 3-point lead.
The most impressive performance on the small boat circle was Jim Van de Veldes sweep of the 8-boat J/24 class. His Mind Games took the gun in each of three races and has a five point lead over Josh Kersts Instant Karma.
After such a magnificent day on the water, Detroit sailors may have been wondering if it really could get any better. The answer was, “of course.” The Red Wings embarrassed goal tender Patrick Roy and the Colorado Avalanche in Game 7 of the conference finals and earn themselves a spot in the Stanley Cup Finals.