'Dinghy Guys' Win Overall Title at San Diego NOOD

An exclusive report from the 2006 Lands' End San Diego NOOD Regatta.

SD NOOD Sunday Montage
Stuart Streuli

SAN DIEGO-John Vincze and Bruce Edwards are dinghy guys. Vincze has been sailing International 14s for over 20 years. While Edwards is relatively new to the twin-trapeze dinghy-today was his 14th day in the 14-foot boat-he's a veteran of the 505 circuit. But despite their collective preference for small, tippy dinghies, the two 40-something sailors were tickled pink when they were named the overall winner of the 2006 Lands' End San Diego NOOD. The overall winners at each of the nine stops of the 2006 Lands' End NOOD tour will receive a Beneteau Oceanis 393 charter boat courtesy of Sunsail for the 2006 Lands' End Caribbean NOOD Regatta in the British Virgin Islands in November."We're on our way to Hawaii in a few months. It'll be nice to have a trip somewhere else warm later in the year," said Vincze, a software executive from Breckenridge, Colo. "It's a heck of a nice treat for our wives."Vincze, who owns the boat and crews, and helmsman Edwards won the first race of the regatta, but a seventh in the second race dropped them behind Kris Henderson and Allan Johnson. After five races, Vincze and Edwards were in second four points back of the lead."We had a couple of gear issues," said Edwards, "and the racing was so close it didn't take much to lose two or three boats or gain two or three boats."With Henderson and Johnson sailing such a consistent regatta to that point-a fourth, two firsts, and two seconds-it looked like the seventh was going to be an impossible hurdle to overcome. But just before the todays' first start Vincze and Edwards made a crucial pre-race adjustment."Just before the start of the first race Bruce made the call to put a little more rake in [the rig]," said Vincze. "That balances the boat and makes it easier to sail upwind."According to their competitors, it made them nearly untouchable and they won both races in a 12- to 18-knot southerly breeze by a large margin."We had good starts," said Edwards. "In both starts we were able to punch off the line and we created a two- to three-boatlength lead within 30 seconds. That allowed us to sail in clear air."Of course, winning both races only guaranteed them two of the four points they needed to take over the lead. The rest came when Henderson and Johnson struggled slightly, finishing fifth in the first race to put the two boats into a tie, and then fourth in the final race.While the International 14s-and the rest of the dinghy fleet-were blasting around in flat water on the Inside Course, the keelboats were battling through big ocean swells on the two Outside Courses. In the Beneteau 36.7 fleet the title came down the final race with the top three boats separated by just two points. Don Finkle and Gary Tisdale-two owners from Buffalo who have combined their crews and traveled from Buffalo to the San Diego NOOD for the past three years-had the inside track, with a one-point advantage over Chick and Alexis Pyle's Kea, the defending champion from 2005.After winning the first race of the day, Finkle and Tisdale decided to keep the latter on the helm for the finale-they usually alternate races. Initially it was a decision that seemed to pay off as they lead the 10-boat fleet around the first mark. But then trouble struck."We were in first and we had a spinnaker wrap," said Finkle. "We need to jibe-you need to get on port early in that run-and a couple of boats passed us on the inside. Overall our crew work was fantastic. That was our only screw up and it came at the worst time."While Kea was buried deep in the pack, one of the boats that slipped by was Tom and Lois Hirsh's Tangerine. With only a two-point cushion between themselves and Tangerine, Finkle and Tisdale's team-a combination of select crew members from their regular crews back home-had to scramble to stay among the leaders. In the end they were able to do just that, finishing just behind Tangerine in the race to take the 36.7 crown by one point."The competition in our class was great," said Finkle. "We don't get ocean sweels like this, so to have them and wind chop on top was fun. To get three days of racing, we were really happy with that."Among the 16 divisions there were four teams that won every races. Topping the list is Chris Winnard who took the Holder 20 Nationals with seven bullets. Judge Ryan won all five races in the 29er division while Simon Garland swept the Flying Dutchman class and Kent Pierce did likewise in the J/24 division.Other winners included Gary Lee in the 505, Wade McDaniel in the Buccaneer, Bill Edwards in the Corsair 28R, Cliff Thompson in the Beneteau 40.7, the Downing/Franco team in the 22-boat J/105 division-the regatta's largest-Ted Marvell in the J/109, Chuck Nichols in the J/120, David Flint in the Catalina 36, Curt Johnson in the J/80, Tom Hurlburt in the Pacific Class, and Mike Ellis in the Ultimate 20 class.