Sperry Top-Sider NOOD Regatta Sails into Detroit

IRC racing returns to the NOOD

DNOODPrevSt

Tony Bessinger

Next week, the Sperry Top-Sider National Offshore One Design Regatta sets sail to Bayview Yacht Club (BYC) in Detroit, Mich. From June 1-3, competition in 14 one-design and two handicapped classes will take place on the Lake St. Clair. Now in its 15th year as the region's largest sailing regatta, there are 192 boats entered to date, with the majority from the Great Lakes area representing Michigan, Ohio and Ontario, Canada. The overall winner in Detroit will receive a Sunsail charter during the 2007 Sperry Top-Sider NOOD Regatta Championship, in the British Virgin Islands, where they will compete against the overall winners from each stop on the nine-regatta Sperry Top-Sider NOOD circuit. As in 2006, the Detroit venue will host IRC handicap fleets. "There is a growing interest in IRC racing among the Great Lakes sailing community," said Dave Reed, editor of Sailing World magazine, which presents the national regatta series. "Although it's mainly a one-design event, we have IRC in Detroit because the sailors want it. Additionally, there is a class for boats using PHRF ratings called 'Levels.' Basically each boat has a similar PHRF rating and the group is scored as if it was a one-design class." Returning Beneteau 36.7 champion Chuck Bayer (Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.) and his boat Grizzly will compete in the 14-boat class. This will be Bayer's third Sperry Top-Sider NOOD regatta this year; he won at both the San Diego, Calif. and Annapolis, Md. regattas. "We are on a streak, but there are several competitors who will be tough," he said. "It is, without a doubt, the fiercest and best competition we have in the Detroit area. The racing is so tight; any boat can win at any time." According to Bayer, there are quite a few boats to look out for with as much boat knowledge as his Grizzly team. "Several competitors are coming from other areas. Don Finkle on Seaweed, who was second in the North Americans, will be here with a brand new boat and new sails. Gary Tisdale from Lake Ontario is coming. Legend, a local boat sailed by Dave and Dan Shriner, is always tough. The wild card will be Phil O'Neil, who won the last three Chicago NOODs with Natalie J. He has just bought a new Beneteau 36.7 and will have a rock star crew and brand new sails." Most of Grizzly's Annapolis-winning crew will be onboard with new addition and possible good-luck charm Tom Meir, Bayview Yacht Club's commodore. The three largest fleets registered are the Cal 25, Melges 24 and Tartan 10 classes. Dale Marshall (Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich.) on his Cal 25 Clytie won 2006 overall Detroit NOOD regatta and has registered to compete in this year's event. Other standouts to look for in the 25-boat class - the largest gathering this year of Cal 25s in the U.S. - include past class national champion Brian Shenstone (Grosse Pointe Woods) and his Draco; John Shumaker (Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.) and his Pirogue; and David Holmes (Grosse Pointe, Mich.) on his Holme Brew. The Melges 24 fleet continues to grow at each NOOD stop and Detroit is no exception. To date, 25 of the highly-competitive sportboats are entered, except for the class's defending champion Fu, owned by Marc Hollerbach (Grosse Pointe Park, Mich.). The rest of the top 10 finishers are registered and with so many talented sailors in the fleet, the class title could go to any of them.Another fleet with consistent boat numbers is the J/105 class. So far, 12 boats are entered with more expected. C.J. Ruffing (Detroit), who sails his own J/105 C-Jem and is the class coordinator, characterized the upcoming competition: "The J/105 class is known for very tight racing and in the NOOD Regatta format, 10 races in 3 days, consistency will be key. In last year's NOOD Regatta, it took every race of the series to overcome a slow start and catch the leader Tenacious on the last race for the win. I'd expect them to be one of the top boats again this year. Jim and Lori Murphy on Windshadow have had a very aggressive, early-season practice schedule and should be fast and in contention. Junto with their new tactician, Trey Rose, should also be in the hunt. Wish, a previous winner, and Unbridled are very well-sailed boats from Lake Erie, and make the trip with the intention of winning. Any boat in the class is capable of winning a race and I'd be surprised if any one dominates." The Detroit stop has always attracted a strong fleet of sailors. In 2006, 181 teams - or over 2,000 sailors - competed. Additional one-design classes, with numbers of boats registered, to date, include: Crescent (6); Express 27 (7); J/120 (7); J/24 (9); J/29 (6); J/35 (8); J/80 (2); NA 40 ( 6); s2 7.9 (4); Tartan 10 (20); Ultimate 20 (9); and Warhorse (5).