Silvestri Makes It A Cross-Country Win

From San Francisco to Marblehead, Mass, Russ Silvestri takes to the Sonar and wins the overall title at the Sperry Top-Sider Marblehead NOOD.

Sailing World

Sonars at the Marblehead NOOD

Tim Wilkes/www.timwilkes.com

Russ Silvestri, of San Francisco, was bombing down Route 1A South to Boston’s Logon Airport minutes after jumping off a high-speed tow from the racecourse of the Sperry Top-Sider Marblehead NOOD Regatta. The traffic, he joked, was causing him more stress than he had had to deal with all weekend long. As we spoke on the phone, the winning Sonar class skipper was confident he’d make his flight, but it would be tight…just as tight as winning a three-way tie and the regatta’s overall title.

An hour or so earlier, Silvestri and his crew John Collins, Julie Papanek, and Holt Conbon had put the finishing touches on an impressive high-stress regatta that started off with a 17th in the first race on Friday but ended with a runaway win in the final race of the series, while fending off top local sailors Larry Ehrhardt and Sam Altreuter.

“In that first race we were slow from the start,” says Silvestri. “Afterwards we realized we were dragging around a big piece of kelp [Eds.’ Note: on the East Coast that would be either rockweed or eel grass…]. It was a little frustrating and made me feel like my confidence shattered.”

They shook it off and at the same time changed their rig tune, dropping off the headstay by an inch for a bit more rake and a different speed mode. The other key, says Silvestri, was great starts all weekend. "We were never being forced to tack right away, which in these boats, if you have to tack, it's really slow."
While conditions on Sunday started off in a strong northerly, by the time boats reached their respective racecourses the northerly was on its way out and the waiting game for the southerly sea breeze began. The race committee started the Sonars just before the time limit, at which point, Silvestri says, they focused on sailing their own race. They got a good start and then a jump on the fleet on the first downwind leg. "We knew we had to win to take the tiebreaker, and once the sea breeze really came up, it was a parade, and we knew we would have it."

Silvestri is relatively new to the Sonar class and was using the Sperry Top-Sider Marblehead NOOD to get up to speed for an upcoming qualification series for the New York Yacht Club’s biennial Invitational Cup regatta.

“The club [St. Francis] is taking this very serious,” he says, “we really hope to do better than we did last time.”

While the "Tinkers Line" where the Sonars and other classes were racing got one race off in time, that wasn't the case on the nearby "Outside Line." The race committee attempted a J/105 start in the early stages of the sea breeze but had to abandon mid-way through, leaving the standings as they were on Saturday. The no-race day left Peter and Doug Morgan's J/105 Steelaway as the class winner, a finish they were perfectly happy to take after having one four straight NOOD regattas before failing to do so last year.
"It's good to be back," says Doug Morgan. "These were not typical conditions this week, and local knowledge really helped. We are very fortunate to win, but the truth is we've got a great crew with five great guys that have sailed together now for a long time."

On the Halfway Rock Line, closer to shore, the battle in the big Rhodes 19 class continued in what remained of the streaky morning northerly. Saturday’s leaders, Charlie Pendleton and Jim Raisides, kept their cool, and stuck close to runner-ups Kim and Christina Pandapas to defend their NOOD title. “Yeah, it was stressful,” says Raisides, “but it’s great to win again.”

For full results from all classes, click here, and for some video highlights from the media boat (an excellent Protector provided by Flagship Adventures), click the links below.