Sperry Top-Sider Detroit NOOD Regatta -- Final

Troubling weather conditions cause organizers to abandon racing; Jones named overall winner

A strong line of thunderstorms in the area of Lake St. Clair prompted organizers of the Sperry Top-Sider NOOD Regatta in Detroit, Mich. to cancel racing for the day, ending the three-day regatta. Saturday's results stand as the final results for the 201 boats competing here out of Bayview Yacht Club. An early ending to the 15th running of the Great Lakes region's largest sailing regatta meant competitors had more time to reflect on the keys to success. What could be called the day's most exciting moment was when Burton Jones (Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich.) was named the overall winner of the Sperry Top-Sider NOOD Regatta in Detroit. He received a trip to Sunsail in the British Virgin Islands to compete against the winners from each of the additional eight stops on the Sperry Top-Sider NOOD Regatta series. Jones, who is 82-years-old, recently converted his custom 38-footer Burden IV to compete in IRC handicap racing and the changes paid off with the third-straight Detroit NOOD win. When his name was announced, it was clear from the crowd's appreciative cheers that Jones is well-respected by the competition. For Jim Gerometta (Oakland, Mich.) his simple motto is "luck favors the well-prepared" when racing on Lake St. Clair. "Some folks refer to it as Lake St. Stupid because of the freaky winds," said Gerometta. "That's the way it is - you need some luck and some skill to do well." Gerometta said he relies on everyone to call the shifts aboard Collina and contribute to the boat's success. Half of his crew is made up of family members while the rest are good friends. That formula has worked for the past eight years of NOOD competition, especially against Hellion. The two Warhorse class regulars enjoy the IRC handicap racing now offered, especially, said Gerometta, when he's winning. "It feels great," said Gerometta. "There are many formidable boats and good sailors in the class; to beat them makes you feel good."In fact, crew seems to be the constant thread throughout this and all Sperry Top-Sider NOOD Regattas. It is common to see families sailing together and to see crews that have been together for a long time such as the one on board J/120 Ihnsanity. "We have two keys to sailing well; our #1 key to doing well is our crew," said Ihnsanity's owner Marvin Ihnen (Troy, Mich.) "We have sailed together for a long time. It's the same people, no guests, and our crew work was very good." All together, they have been sailing together since they won their class at the 2000 Detroit NOOD, however Ihnen's mainsheet trimmer is his wife Elaine and they've been sailing together a lot longer. "I'm a fortunate person," he said. "We communicate very well and we like sailing together." His second key to success, particularly in this regatta, was his boat's new headsail and mainsail. "Unfortunately, we had older sails before and didn't realize it," he said. "In the past years, we didn't really do well, but this year we got our act together and new sails don't hurt." This evening, the Ihsanity crew plans to celebrate a class win by having a family BBQ.For Mike Dow (Traverse City, Mich.), his strategy of keeping cool paid off in the competitive Melges 24 class. "It was tough sailing all weekend long," said Dow, who finished second overall in the 33-boat class. "We just had to hang tough. We were really fast and I guess that's how it's supposed to work. It's a tough fleet. You can't make mistakes." By only sailing with amateurs, or non-professional sailors, his Flying Toaster could compete for the Class's Corinthian Trophy. "We feel better when we beat the pros," joked Dow of his win. John Podmajersky (Chicago, ll.) won the overall class by eight points over Dow. This was Dow's 12th year competing in the Detroit NOOD and it was especially gratifying to win top Corinthian. "It was a good event for us," he said. "If we place ahead of Holzman (Chuck Holzman, the owner of Flyer), then it's a good regatta. We sail around the course and we're usually right next to him, so to gain a boat length against him is great." Flyer finished fourth overall with Pied Piper, owned by Jack Jennings (Chicago, Ill.) in third place.If the Melges 24 is the best-known Midwest sailboat in the country, the Crescent is most likely the least known boat outside of the Midwest, despite its storied past. Only 26 Crescents were ever built and the Detroit NOOD is the only NOOD location to see this historic fleet compete. Keeping the class active is a labor of love for David Hume (Detroit), whose passion for the racing these boats was evident in his class win this weekend. "Winning is a wonderful feeling," said Hume. "I wish we had a better racing. The wind was light and variable and only having three races is tough for a regatta. Hey, it's more disappointing for the other guys than me." The Crescent fleet is a tight-knot one; Hume's son Alex does the foredeck on board Utopia. Hume's brother Stephen finished in second on his Manon, while his girlfriend finished in fourth on her Moxie. "My son sails with me all the time, he's awesome," said David Hume. "He started sailing when he was eight at the Detroit Yacht Club and we've been sailing together since then. This is his 6th NOOD." The Hume brothers have their share of NOOD wins over the years; Hume guessed that this was his 7th class win. Other class winners on Circle C included: John VanTol (Grosse Pointe Park) on his Just the Tip in the Express 27 class; Brian Shenstone & Bob Orr (Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich.) on Draco in the Cal 25 class; Jim VanDeVelde (Macomb, Mich.) on Mind Games in the J/24 class; and Eric Vigrass (Port Huron, Mich.) on American Honour in the Ultimate 20 Class.On Circle B, class winners included: Ted Pinkerton (Aurora, Ohio) on Perfect in the Tartan 10 class; Brian Geraghty (Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich.) on Siochail in the C&C 35 class; Len Strahl (Windsor, Ontario, CAN) on Lionheart II in the Level 126 class; John Barbour (Grosse Pointe) on Velero VII in the NA 40 class; Michael Morin and Duane Rose (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) on Junto in the J/105 class; and John & Linda Edwards (California, Md.) on Rhumb Punch in the J/29 class.In addition to Warhorse, J/120 and IRC A winners on Circle A, other winners included: Gary Tisdale (Lewiston, N.Y.) on First Today in the 14-boat Beneteau 36.7 class; and Ed Bayer (Grosse Pointe Park, Mich.) on Falcon in the J/35 class.