Seduced by the Bullet

One resounding cannon blast whet my appetite for victory at the Sperry Top-Sider Marblehead NOOD. Now I'm hungry for more.

Sailing World

Sonar960

Andrew Crocker (at helm), Erik Goethert, Michael Lovett (red shirt), and Matt Crowley (bow) race the Sonar Back Seat Driver at the 2011 Sperry Top-Sider Marblehead NOOD.Tim Wilkes

Bullets are always nice, any way you can get 'em. I'm sailing with Andrew Crocker, Erik Goethert, and Matt Crowley aboard the Sonar Back Seat Driver here at the 2011 Sperry Top-Sider Marblehead NOOD. At the start of yesterday's first race, the race committee called us over early, and by the time we had dipped below the line to clear ourselves, most of the 24-boat fleet was well on its way to the windward mark.

We stuck with our game plan and headed right, where we saw the strongest wind. Crocker did a nice job driving the boat through the chop, Crowley kept the jib pulling as the up-and-down breeze necessitated frequent gear changes, and Goethert—when he wasn't checking his cell phone to see if his wife had gone into labor—kept us in the best breeze. By the time we rounded the windward mark, we were deep, but not quite so deep.

Downwind, we were fortunate to catch a new wind line coming down from the right side of the course, allowing us to pass a few more boats and close the gap with the leaders. We made a clean leeward-mark rounding then played the subtle shifts on the next upwind leg. By the time we rounded the windward mark again, we were in the hunt, with only one boat ahead of us and several nipping closely at our heels.

By now, the wind had built enough to make the waves surfable, and it was only by catching a few final waves that we were able to hold off the boats hot on our tail. As we approached the finish, we were satisfied to have secured a second place, but when the race committee denied the first finisher the gun—they, too, had been over early, but never went back—our fortunes improved dramatically. A few seconds later, we crossed the line to the sweetest sound in sailboat racing—the cannon blast signaling victory from the bow of the RC boat.

The win wasn't pretty, nor did it establish a pattern. We slipped back to 10th and 9th, respectively, in the next two races, and currently sit in sixth place. Tomas Hornos' Team Doyle leads the division by two points over Rick Dominique's Fine Line. Two days of racing remain, and there are bullets yet to be claimed. Am I greedy for another one? You bet I am.

For complete results, click here.