Moderation Makes for an Easier Final day at the 2008 Sperry Top-Sider Detroit NOOD

Lighter breeze proved to be a panacea for racers beaten up by the two previous days of racing at the Detroit NOOD.


Tony Bessinger

For final results, click here.

Sue and Dave Grassley own a Beneteau 36.7 named Sho-Was-Cae-Mette, which is a name taken from the Potawatomi tribe of Native Americans who, according to Wikipedia are a Native American people of the upper Mississippi River region. In the Potawatomi language, they generally call themselves Bodewadmi, a name that means "keepers of the fire." Sho-Was-Cae-Mette means lightning on the water, according to Sue Grassley, who, along with her husband Dave, owns the boat. They are the overall winners of the 2008 Sperry Top-Sider Detroit NOOD, after taking the 12-boat Beneteau First 36.7 class with a tiebreaker with Phil O'Neil's Natalie J.

"We had our regular crew sailing with us," said Sue, "as well as Wally Cross from Quantum sails. He helped us really focus so we could make the boat do what it's meant to do."

It's the Grassley's sixth season with the boat. "We were really close to winning two years ago at the Detroit NOOD," said Dave. "We were in second, but we had a collision and ended up with a DSQ, and finished fourth."

This was the Grassley's first big win with the boat, said Sue, who trims the main. "It was a difficult weekend, and we were able to make it come together. Everybody was working together as a team. Everything's got to be in place, the preparation has to be there, the sails have to be fast, and everybody's got to work together."

Sho-Was-Cae-Mette sails out of Monroe, Michigan, and both Dave and Sue love the class and the boat. "It's absolutely wonderful one-design racing in the 36.7 fleet," said Sue. "The class is really good because everybody's really competitive. All the boats are fast, and we managed to get everybody to sail together and worked really hard, especially on the last race, to beat Natalie J. by about 10 feet. We ended up tied with them for first, but won the tiebreaker."

Dave drives the boat, and he gets credit for registering the boat under Sue's name because he couldn't find his US SAILING card. "This weekend was tremendous, great conditions, and we kept the boat tuned for the conditions on every race," he said. "We were a little bit disappointed that we didn't sail more than one race yesterday afternoon, but in a way it was a good thing, because we didn't want to break anything else. We had some carnage onboard, but nothing major. We shattered a block on the headsail track and broke a couple of minor things, including the spinnaker pole downhaul, but we were able to recover very quickly; crew work is what saved us there."

Preperation was an important part of Sho-Was-Cae-Mette's win. "We spent about 100 hours prepping the bottom of the boat this spring," said Dave. "We've only had the boat in the water for about a week, we got it in just in time to make this event. The bottom has VC Offshore, and it's been wet sanded to 100 grit. You could probably use it to shave with in the morning, it has that kind of mirror-like finish. We sail with Quantum sails. Last autumn we got a Quantum spinnaker and genoa and two weeks ago we got a new main. We're very happy with the sails, but Wally was our inspiration. He kept the team focused and heading in the right direction. He was both tactician and crew boss. I was his reality check, if I didn't like it, we didn't do it, but Wally was pretty much the game."

The core group of the crew has been together for seven to eight years, according to Dave. "We've had one guy, Chris Merkle, who's sailed the last three NOODs with us, and done a lot of other one-design racing. He's been an asset on the bow and in the back of the bus. We also had Terry Freeman on board, he was also a big asset for us, he trims spinnaker. Don Kartsen has also been key player, he does jib and spinnaker trim. We also had Erica Schwab on the foredeck and Matt Broadbeck in the pit, both of whom did a great job. In the years we've owned the boat, we've really learned to blade out the boat, keep the sails flat, which lets us carry the heavy No. 1 a bit higher in the wind range. A lot of it is rig tune. We tune the rig before every race."

Sho-Was-Cae-Mette spends most of its time sailing on Lake Erie and Lake St. Claire, but Dave and Sue have been thinking about heading to Chicago this year, but they're really looking forward to racing against the other eight overall NOOD winners in the Caribbean this fall.

We asked Sue and Dave about the dynamic between the two of them during racing. "He's the captain," said Sue. "We've been sailing together for 25 years."

The Grassey's owned a Cal 33 before the 36.7. "In some ways it was a good preparation for the Beneteau," said Sue, "but in others the Beneteau is a very different boat, It has a lot more acceleration and it's a newer design. It's a great boat. We don't cruise the boat except to get to different venues, but it's very comfortable. We sail with a crew of eight, and it worked out well this weekend. There are a lot of people who are very surprised about us. We've been sailing together for 25 years, been married for 23 years. We have two cats, but we haven't been able to teach them how to trim yet."

For final results, click here.