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Sun, but little wind, mark third day of Detroit NOOD

June 2, 2002
Diane Chase

DETROIT–Three days of sun and wind, say many locals, is probably too much to ask for from Lake St. Clair in early June. So today, after two glorious days of sailing in the 2002 Sailing World Detroit NOOD Regatta, when the wind turned fickle and the single scheduled race turned into a bit of a crapshoot, few of the more than 1,000 sailors participating could find much reason to complain. “I’ve done every Detroit NOOD,” said Mike Welch of the J/35 Falcon. “This was the best weather we’ve ever had.”

Welch also put together some of the best results of his sailing career as his J/35 Falcon swept to its first NOOD victory in the Level 35 class with two firsts and seven straight top-three finishes. Welsh, who co-owns Falcon with Ed and John Bayer and called tactics during the event, has been sailing Falcon for three years and the crew has steadily climbed up the ladder. Ed Bayer, who steers the boat, agreed with his tactician’s assessment.

“I think we had good consistent starts, great crew work, and we were able to get out in front,” said Ed Bayer. “We work really hard, modeling after Bill Wildner to match his crew work.”

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Wildner has been the cream of the local Level 35 fleet for a number of years. Last year he swept all six races in the Detroit NOOD. This year, however, when Wildner and his team on Mr. Bill’s Wild Ride struggled, the Falcon team was poised to take advantage, thanks in no small part to a series of pre-season practices. “We felt confident going into it,” said Welch. “But afterwards even the crew agreed that we could do better. But on a relative basis we were significantly better prepared than the other boats.”

The win also put Falcon in the pole position when it comes to the Level 35 season series. Since the NOOD regatta is the most heavily weighted of the four that make up the schedule, Falcon has put itself in great position to take the season championship away from Wildner, who’s won it for the last four years. “That’s our ultimate goal,” said Ed Bayer. “Like I said, I can’t say enough about Bill Wildner. We’re going after him.” Other winners on Circle A included Brian Gerghty’s C&C; 35 Siochail, Brian Lang’s Islander 36 Marksman in the Level 141 Division, Richard Stearns New Ten in the 24-boat Tartan Ten fleet, and Thomas Kleinhardt who sailed his Catalina 38 to first place in the Level 114 class. Bill Jenkins’ win in the S2 7.9 was one of the most impressive of the regatta, he won six of seven races, demonstrating his dominance across a wide range of conditions.

Dale Marshall’s win in the 20-boat Cal 25 class was his first Detroit NOOD victory since 1995. Marshall and his crew hope that their win this year propels them to an even bigger win later in the summer. “This is big,” said Fred Anderson, who’s crewed for Marshall on Cal 25s for 16 years. “The last time we won the NOOD we also won the nationals. We’ve got the same scenario setting up this year.” The Cal 25 nationals, for which 25 to 30 boats are expected, will be held in Michigan in August. Marshall has sailed Cal 25s for 23 years, but he’s only been sailing Clytie II for the past two–his original boat burned up in a fire a few years ago. “I’ve had trouble getting this new Cal working,” said Marshall. “This year we did some changes and it seems to be going better. Weight placement and balance is the primary area we’ve been looking at.” Also scoring victories on Circle C, which was comprised mostly of the regatta’s smallest boats, were David Hume on his Crescent Utopia, Josh Kerst’s J/24 Instant Karma, Paul Hulsey’s Ultimate 20 Dynamo Humm, and The Clippler, an Etchells owned by Tom Dawson and Kevin Germain. Traveling all the way from San Francisco, Eric Deeds’ Lorax won the Express 27 Great Lakes Championship in convincing fashion scoring 13 points, exactly half that of the second place boat.

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While time in the boat may have been a key to Marshall’s win in the Cal 25, the team behind the J/105 Patriot could claim no such advantage. They put their boat in the water for the first time just days before the regatta and Friday was their first real sail. “It was scary because it was blowing 25 knots and it was our first day on the boat,” said co-owner Lyndon Lattie. “We were just trying to figure out where the ropes go.” Patriot kept itself in the game with two seconds and a sixth on Friday, but was still significantly behind Chuck Stormes’ Detour which won all three races and the Hall Spars and Rigging Boat of the Day Award. Stormes would keep the lead until Sunday’s single race, when he finished 13th. Patriot, which wouldn’t record a finish worse than sixth, won the final race and the regatta by three points. “Lyndon was longboarding the bottom a week before the regatta,” said David Lattie, also a co-owner, “and he was hoping we would finish in the top 5.” Also winning on Circle B were Herb Misch’s Frers 45 Tiki II in Grand Prix A, Burt Jones’ custom 38-footer Burden IV in Grand Prix B, Ray Adams Beneteau Epic in the Warhorse division, John Baubour’s North American 40 Velero VI, Mike Dow’s Melges 24 Flying Toaster, and Rob Amsler’s J/120 Merlin.

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