A Pyle of Fun at San Diego NOOD

Kelp killed Chick and Alexis Pyle's Kea on Friday, but nothing was able to stop them on Sunday, the final day of the 2005 Lands' End San Diego NOOD. The local team took the Beneteau 36.7 North American championship and was named the overall winner of the NOOD Regatta.

SD NOOD Sunday

Stuart Streuli

SAN DIEGO-For local sailors in the Beneteau 36.7 class, the 2005 Lands' End San Diego NOOD Regatta started out just where last year's left off. And that wasn't a good thing. "Last year's NOOD was the first one-design regatta on the West Coast [for the 36.7 class]," said San Diego's Chick Pyle. "Two boats came in from Youngstown and Buffalo, N.Y.-Hammertime and Top Gun-and chartered boats. They took first and second and all the locals were deep. We were really embarrassed." After the first day of racing this year there were four out-of-town boats crowding the top of the standings-this time the regatta also counted as the class's North American championship-and once again the locals found themselves on the bottom looking up. No one was more disappointed that Pyle, his wife Alexis, and their team on Kea. "On Friday night we had so much kelp I was going to put a For Sale sign on the boat," said Chick Pyle. "We had six teams that were sailing on charter boats and we were going to set the example on kelp avoidance. After the first day we were so deep, eighth out of 10, we were ready to check off the regatta and say, 'OK, when's our next regatta?'" But instead the Pyles and their team redoubled their kelp avoidance efforts-keeping two sets of eyes on the sea at all times-and stared crawling back into the regatta. They had a solid day on Saturday with a third, a first, and a fourth and headed for the dock thinking they were in fifth place. By Sunday morning they were in second as poor races, an OCS, and a DSQ knocked down key competitors. Still they didn't think they had a chance at first as Charles Bayer Jr.'s team on Grizzly had a seven-point lead. "With two races to go we said we were only going to cover the boats behind us to protect second place," said Pyle, "because we thought first was unattainable." In absolutely spectacular conditions today, bright sun and 10 to 15 knots from the northwest, Pyle took command of the first race for a wire-to-wire win while the crew of Grizzly continued to struggle, placing sixth. The crew of Kea still needed to put one boat between them and Grizzly in the final race to win the regatta and they got three, finishing second to Grizzly's sixth. For their efforts in a very tight class, Kea were chosen as the Overall Winner of the 2005 Lands' End San Diego NOOD Regatta and the Pyles received a invitation to attend next January's Caribbean NOOD Rendezvous at SunSail's Club Colonna in Antigua. They and some core crew members will be hosted by SunSail and compete against the overall winners from the other eight NOOD Regattas. Redemption wasn't on the mind of Dennis Case. The San Diego skipper has been a dominant force in the J/105 class in recent years, winning two of the past three NOOD Regatta crowns. Case, whose wife Sharon does the bow and helps with tactics, put himself in a strong position to make it three our of four with a second and two firsts on Saturday, good enough for a four-point lead over Doug and Pam Werner's Javelin and a seven-point lead over Alice Leahey's Grace O'Malley in third. "Our plan was we were going to fleet race on the first race and see how it turned out," said Case. "Then we would deal with our competition in the last race." While Leahey fell out of contention with a ninth in Sunday's first race, the Werners ate up nearly all of the Case's lead with a second to their fifth. "They've been getting faster every year," Case said of the Javelin team. "They won the Midwinters and it looks like they're going to have the outstanding year." But Case wasn't about to hand over the NOOD title he's practically owned in recent years. So in the second race, Case and his team on Wings got aggressive. "We engaged them at the start," he said, "and we both ended up getting a bad start. We came out of the soup a little better than they did and then we kept a loose cover on them for seven miles." A fifth to Javelin's seventh was enough for a three-point overall victory. With a win in the final race Peter Lufkin's Short Skirt vaulted into third place. For Clifton Odom, the path to the top of the Ultimate 20 class at the 2005 San Diego NOOD has been a long one. Odom, the past president of the class, has been sailing U20s for a decade. "I wish it were the case," said Odom when asked if this win was one in a string of many. "We're finally getting tuned in. We've been top three at the last two nationals. But this was the tightest fleet we've ever had. You made one mistake and you lost two spots." Odom and his team on Ethel Merlyn has great upwind speed all weekend, but struggled off the wind, where Trent Watkins on UFO was especially fast. With one race remaining, the two were tied for first place. Odom led around the first mark, but it wasn't by a large margin. "Trent was killing us all weekend downwind," said Odom. "But he didn't cover us on the downwind leg, he stayed with [third-placed] Enigma. I think they both thought there was more breeze on the left side of the course. We finally made the right move to the right side and got a huge puff, rolled down ,and when we looked up we were crossing them. We kept a loose cover on the rest of the way." Other winners at the 2005 Lands' End San Diego NOOD Regatta included: Tom Hughes in the Etchells, Dave Klatt in the J/24, Curt Johnson in the J/80, Andrew O'Dwyer in the Soling, Armando Silvestre, who won six of seven races in the Beneteau 40.7 class, David Voss in the Fast 40 class, Steve Harris in the J/120, Gary Lee in the 505, Paul Hemker in the Flying Dutchman, Kyra Sweda in the Holder 20, the Henderson/Johnson team in the International 14, and Linda Woodbury in the Martin 16. See the final results for complete placings in all 15 classes.