Getting up to Speed in St. Pete

Two of the top teams competing in the 2009 Sperry Top-Sider St. Petersburg NOOD are in the process of breaking in new boats.

Patrick Wilson (second from right)-- seen here with members of the Sabotage entourage-- has put some serious sweat equity into his newly acquired J/24.

Patrick Wilson (second from right)-- seen here with members of the Sabotage entourage-- has put some serious sweat equity into his newly acquired J/24.Michael Lovett

After two days of racing at the 2009 Sperry Top-Sider St. Petersburg NOOD, the cream has risen to the top of several of the regatta's 15 divisions.

Bert Rice's Mark Twain has won every race in the Corsair 24 division, Jim Pearson's Slippery has done the same in the Ultimate 20, and Wasabi, owned by Jeff Marks and Adam Rosen, has aced the J/105 division thus far. Other division leaders with at least three bullets in their scoreline include Kathryn Garlick's Evolution in the Corsair 28R, Don Wigston's Brioso in the Corsair Sprint 750, Thomas Hall's Seven in the Elliot 770, Dave Kerr's Shark Sandwich in the J/22, Justin Scott's Dr. Who & the Daleks in the Viper 640, and Jim Miller in the Sonar.

In the regatta's largest division, however, the leader has not quite cornered the market on bullets. Dave Ullman and the crew of US 515 have won only won race, yet they lead the 44-boat Melges 24 division by eight points ahead of Day 1 leaders David O'Reilly and the crew of Ardor.

Despite losing his grip on the lead today, O'Reilly couldn't be happier with his team's performance. "This is our first real regatta with the boat," said O'Reilly, who went in on the purchase with brother Russ and sister Alana. "To be ahead of guys like Terry Hutchinson, we're not complaining." Hutchinson, the reigning Rolex Yachtsman of the Year, is calling tactics for the Kenneth Nixon's Quantum Racing, which sits in seventh place after five races.

Ardor crewmember Nick Turney expressed amazement at Ullman's resilience on the racecourse. "No matter how far back he is, he always seems to sail right through the fleet," said Turney. Fellow crewmember Russ O'Reilly concurred, "Somehow, Ullman is always right there. I don't know how he does it."

In the same way that the O'Reilly crew has quickly brought it's boat up to speed in the highly competitive Melges 24 division, Patrick Wilson has his new acquisition, Sabotage, keeping pace with the J/24s-- though not without a considerable amount of hard labor. Wilson purchased the boat off eBay last fall sight unseen. "I must've put 400 hours into the boat already," said Wilson, who has done everything from reinforce the hull to replace all the deck hardware. "The night before a regatta a couple of weeks ago, we were up until 3:00 a.m. screwing on parts," said Wilson. Sabotage currently sits in third place, 19 points behind division leader Long Shot, skippered by John Poulson.

Racing concludes on Sunday for all divisions. For results, click here.