Just minutes before the first start of the day, a steady sea breeze filled what had been a flat harbor to kick off the second day of the 2001 Sailing World Marblehead NOOD regatta. Skipper Judy Button, of Toronto, Canada, and her crew, aboard their Laser 28, Rags, finished second today. With a score of five points for the day, they were just one point behind home-water rival Rock’n’Roll. And the regatta is just beginning.
“Our strategy is simple,” said Frank Button, who sailed on board Rags, “we nail the pin and go like hell.” Rags began the first race in third, dropped to last after a tough leeward mark rounding, and rallied to finish in fourth place. The second race belonged entirely to Rags, from her winning start to her crossing the finish line three lengths ahead of her closest competitors. “We were very happy with our day,” said Button, “but we would have liked to have more breeze. My favorite races are the ones in which we need to use our smallest jib.”
Although sailors found today’s windspeed satisfactory, tacticians kept a sharp eye out for shifts as the breeze clocked around the race course. Boats still pitched in the thick rollers that nearly swept smallest boats into Boston yesterday. Spinnakers rippled under the stop-and-go pressure of the waves against hulls, which dominated the downwind legs.
Button and her tacticians, sailmaker Ed Botterell, and Frank Button, concentrated so hard on taking the waves at favorable angles on the last run of their last race that the sound of the victory gun startled them. “We almost jumped out of our skin,” said Button, with a laugh. “I almost thought I was hit!”
The foredeck crew of Rags concentrated hard on everything but tactics, and attribute their win to the stories they told amongst each other on the rail. “Between verses about reality TV, losing baggage on planes, and a very strict boarding school, we made some great calls tactically,” said spinnaker trimmer Allan Proos. “We just laughed the whole way and I think it got rid of just enough competitive tension to allow us to think clearly and win the race. Tomorrow we’ll be aiming to win the whole regatta.”