Different Day, Same Light, Shifty Conditions at the Sperry Top-Sider Texas NOOD

From the Catalina 22 class to the Corsair 28 class, competitors found their own ways of dealing with the shifts on Galveston Bay.

Tony Bessinger

It was another frustrating day for sailors and race committee members on the waters off Houston Yacht Club today. The day began well, with a northerly breeze checking in with about 8 knots of pressure, but as the sun climbed higher in the sky, the wind decided it was far too hot out for any type of exertion, and it checked out, leaving racers, especially those close to the shore in Division B, gasping for air. Finishing the first race was an exercise in patience, especially for the Catalina 22s, which finished their final upwind leg with spinnakers sagging. The B Division race committee gave the sailors a break after the first race, sending them back to the dock under an AP pennant to cool down in the shade for about an hour before sending them back out for one last race when the wind came back up.A Division racers fared slightly better, and spent the entire day on the racecourse. In the 10-boat Corsair 28R fleet, Tom Reese and his crew on Flight Simulator continued their winning ways and scored a first in their only race of the day, which put them at the top of the leader board. Reese, who's based in Niagara Falls, N.Y., was wise enough to include Todd Hudgins, who grew up in Houston, on his crew for the Texas NOOD. "Todd's a very good sailor and a good friend," said Reese. "He's a good coach and he's helping us sail better. We were just tacking on the shifts when we could, and kept the boat moving. It's been very shifty both days." Tacking on the shifts is a good way to manage a racecourse, and most people rely on wind instruments to keep track of what's happening with the breeze. Reese and his crew, however, rely only on a compass, and other basic race tenets. "We try to get a decent start," he said, and have good speed going off the line." Reese and his crew spend a lot of time on the road every year attending 28R events all over the country. They sailed in The St. Petersburg NOOD earlier this year, and are headed to Fort Walton Beach next weekend. Reese, who's owned Flight Simulator for eight years, is enthusiastic about the class. "I picked the right boat," he said. "It's a great one-design fleet and the boat has really renewed my interest in racing. It's easy to sail, it's a lot of fun, and it doesn't require a large crew. I wish there were more NOODs we could sail in."Albert Goethe and his crew on the J/109 Hamburg, are always at or near the top of their fleet each year at the Houston NOOD. Today they scored a first-place finish, which gives them a two-point lead over Jim Powers' Sea Trial. "We have the boat prepared well," said Goethe. "And we're sailing with a truly remarkable tactician, Farley Fontenot. He kept us in the race today; without him, we would have been in a different place on the racecourse and dramatically further back. He anticipated the right shift, even though the forecast didn't agree." Goethe also credits his crew for their success. "We know each other well, and sail well together," he said. "I've sailed with the same crew for some time, a couple of them for six years." With the same light forecast for the final day of racing, Goethe knows what he's in for. "It will be the same challenge tomorrow," he said. "We'll try to make sure we're where the breeze is."