Motor City Perfection

On the opening day of the Lands' End NOOD Regatta in Detroit, Lake St. Clair does something unusual.

Day1_Express27

Jh Peterson

Motor City Perfection With Mount Gay Rum pouring and Red Stripe beers cracking under the party tent of the Lands' End Detroit NOOD Regatta, everything was all right with Harald Kolter, the Express 27 skipper from nearby Harper Woods, Mich. As the sun was dropping after what was universally described as a "perfect" day of racing in Detroit, Kolter and his crew on the Express 27, Das Boot(y), were at the top of their class with a clean sweep of three races in the nine-boat division-all sailed in a 8 to 10 knot southeasterly. "Any day you can get in three races is a great day," says Kolter, an engineer with General Motors. "I don't really know how to explain why we did so well, but all I can say is we had great speed and pointing-we were fast." Kolter may have won all three, but he's fully aware that 6 points back is Ralph Deeds' Lorax, from Birmingham, Mich., a repeat winner here in Detroit. Kolter chalks up his opening day performance to his team's tight crew work, honed with a few days of pre-season practice (some of which required brushing snow off the deck). "This is the big event for the year," says Kolter, "and I've been getting ready for it for months. For guys like Deeds, and many others, this is the first time they've raced their boat this season, so I'm not forgetting that they (Lorax) had a bad day, and we just had a great one." Jeff Sampson, of Ferndale, Mich., had the same hint of reservation as he was soaking up his opening-day lead in the 21-boat Tartan 10 class. "I don't know, really, how we managed to come out on top today," says Sampson, who's also an engineer for GM. "We had 2-6-1, and I guess we were able to put the boat in the right places." Sampson, 30, and his mates-most of which he grew up sailing with-are only 4 points ahead of Mike Eckstein, of St. Clair Shores, Mich., and 5 points ahead of Tartan 10 guru Bill Buckles, of Lorain, Ohio. "I've admired Bill for a long time, and he's definitely the one to beat," says Sampson. "There are eight teams in this fleet that could easily win, and who knows, we could very well get two 15ths tomorrow. Today was as good as it gets in Detroit, but tomorrow anything can happen." The big local fleet at Bayview YC, the regatta's host club, are the Cal 25s; there are 18 of them, and with their national championships here next weekend, teams are sizing each other up more than ever. The racing-albeit a little slower paced than that on the Melges or Mumm 30 circles-was intense, but cordial, and the top five boats are all within a 5-point span. Stu Thompson's Target Practice, of Harpor Woods, Mich., is the division leader with 9 points, thanks to 2-6-1 finishes, but he's got perennial class favorite Bob Orr Jr. knocking, only 2 points behind. For results from the Melges 24, J/24, Ultimate 20, Beneteau 36.7, J/35/Thompson 35, Mumm 30, J/120, J/105, Tartan 10, C&C 35, and the event's Level-rated classes, see results.