Good at the Beginning and the End

Wind on Long Island Sound, even when it's light is nothing to scoff at. Luckily for NOOD racers this weekend, there were two days worth of it--enough for seven races in some classes.

larchmontlevel_story

Dave Reed

In sailboat racing there are two degrees of quickness: there's fast and then there's blazing fast. Ask Stephen Tedeschi where his J/109 team fell in that range at this weekend's Sperry Top-Sider NOOD Regatta in Larchmont and I guarantee he have no qualms confessing that his Tastes Like Chicken is plenty fast: fast enough, that is, to earn the regatta's overall trophy and a trip to the British Virgin Islands for the Caribbean NOOD Championship in November.Tedeschi's crew, a mix of Chicken veterans and some fine young imported talent, put on another stellar performance on the water today, finishing the first of its two races some 3 minutes ahead of the second-place boat, and then wrapping up the regatta with a second.In the first race of the day, most of the J/109 fleet were OCS, leaving Tastes Like Chicken-perhaps a bit close to the line themselves-a virtually open racecourse and an easy win. But the last race was the toughest of the series, courtesy of Rick Lyall's Storm (fourth overall), which justifiably dragged them into a drawn-out, sweaty tacking duel. Tastes Like Chicken crewmember Forrest Williams estimates they rolled through at least 20 tacks.The old saying in one-design sailing circles is that you look smart when you're fast, but for Tedeschi's clan, victory wasn't just about being fast, it was about being smart, aggressive when they needed to be, and sailing their own race when they got away. They'd get far enough ahead, says Tedeschi's crew, and everyone else would end up battling it out for second place, slowing each other down at every opportunity.John Hammel, skipper of the Beneteau 36.7, saw the same thing happening in his fleet and smartly kept himself out of trouble at every opportunity. His approach paid in spades, with Elan winning all seven of its races; they were the only team in the regatta to sweep its series."We sailed a perfect regatta," says Hammel, whose crew is based in the Northeast and gets together to sail the region's bigger events. In the five years he's owned the boat and raced it here at the Larchmont NOOD he's finished third, second, and fourth, so this year, he says his strategy was to "not elevate our game, but play it well. We didn't want to sail faster, we just wanted to make fewer mistakes." This of course, requires some explaining: Hammel says they know they're fast and capable of winning, but at past events their intensity has gotten the better of them. "We turned it down a notch, we were much more relaxed, and that made a big difference."Like Tedeschi, Hammel knew the other key to winning would be to avoid packs of boats on the open course, and especially at the roundings, and by doing so Elan won its races by large margins, too. "We sailed every race with clear air, had some good tactics, and with the exception of losing a jib sheet, didn't make any mistakes," says Hammel. "We also had incredible speed, and to be honest, none of us are sure why."Hammel also pointed out that the regatta's consistent southerly, atypical for Long Island Sound, made approaching the course much more straightforward than it usually is here. There was plenty of good racing happening among the regatta's other six classes as well, and for proof, one need only look at the J/105 results. Joerg Esdorn' Kincsem managed to win three races yesterday, but none today, yet three top-five finishes gave his squad from American YC the win by 8 points over Brian Keane's Savasana. In the J/30s it was John McArthur's Smiles taking home the class the victory, getting the best of Steve Buzee's Blue Meanie by only 4 points. An even smaller, 2-point, margin separated the top-two in the J/27 class, with JJ McDonald's Fat Chance winning the series and the Long Island Sound Championship. Adam Loory, too, was crowned the king of the Sound in the Level 72/Express 37 class, ensuring that the Carl Schumacher Memorial Trophy stays in Soulmates' possession for another year. Dominick Porco's X-35 Alliance won its IRC division, and Leo Vasilev topped the 11-boat Shields fleet. For complete results, click here.