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T-Tens Tell Stories at St. Pete NOOD

Sailing World’s 2003 NOOD regatta series got underway on a quiet day on the bay.

February 15, 2003
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John Burnham

The 160 boats racing in the Sailing World St. Petersburg NOOD regatta on Friday proved a little more robust than NZL-82, Team New Zealand’s defending Cup boat, but it could be they avoided breakdowns because they were sailing in a little less breeze. While the Hauraki Gulf kicked up 20-24 knot winds, Florida’s Tampa Bay mustered 10 knots in the morning, which died away completely by mid-afternoon. Nonetheless, the 16 one-design and level classes completed two races each. Shortening some courses to allow racers to finish in reasonable time was the tactic of the day for race officers Pat Seidenspinner and Carole Bardes, who are running the B and A Division courses, respectively. They were accompanied on the water by Sailing World’s NOOD RC advisor, Peter “Luigi” Reggio, fresh from his four-month stint of managing the Louis Vuitton races in New Zealand. If this had been the LVC trials there’d have been only one race, but fortunately, the NOOD has no wind limitations, and the second race came off in good form.

After the race, this reporter met several members of the traveling Tartan Ten band who have made this regatta their Midwinter Championship this year, collecting a fleet of 12 teams from all over the Midwest. Scott Bruesewitz’s Contumacious, from Cudahy, Wis., took a few chances, winning the first race and hitting the dock in a series first place. After chasing Donald Fritz’s Full Bore around the course until the last leg, “We passed him on the left—went there for a little leverage,” said Bruesewitz. “When we came back we crossed him on port by about 12 inches. That was the race.”

Bruesewitz said he cut it close with another boat on the way to finishing fourth in the second race and admitted that he knew that wasn’t the way you’re supposed to sail on the first day of a long series. But he said he was pressing hard to beat class president Bill Buckles, whose Liquor Box team, from Lorain, Ohio, won the second race and stands second, one point behind.

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The series would be tied, according to Buckles, but in the first race, he missed the finish line and lost one place to finish 5th. “It was my bi-focals,” he said. “That pin mark was really small.” Tactician Terry McSweeney said, “I thought it was pretty clear where to go. Next time I’ll yell at him in time.” In the second race, Buckles’ team won, they said, by powering up their rig, which according to T-Ten class rules can include easing shroud tension.

Hanging in a close third is a rising star in the Tartan fleet, Bruce LaMotte with Glider, finishing 4-3. Buckles is worried about LaMotte and points out that in two years the Chicago sailor has moved from deep in his local fleet to being a top-10 national sailor. LaMotte deflects credit for success to his crew, which at this event includes five-time Chicago-Mac winners Tim and Nancy Snyder, owners of another T-Ten.

“I asked Richie Stearns how I could improve,” said LaMotte. “He told me, ‘Put the boat on a trailer and travel to Cleveland, to Milwaukee, to Key West.’ So I bought a trailer and a truck and made a conscious effort to go sail against the best people in each fleet.”

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| John Burnham|

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| Closely spaced Henderson 30s at the leeward mark: Neil Rattan’s Love Letter puts its chute away while Jeff Gale’s Beautiful World (center) and Mike Carroll’s New Wave (left) get ready to drop.* * *|

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Over in the hot sportboat class for the Henderson 30s, the competition’s pretty good, too. In the first race, Mike Carroll’s defending champ, New Wave, was closed out at the committee boat, then rallied to round the weather mark first, but slipped to fourth thereafter. In the second race, they pulled out a first, but ended the day tied with Jeff Gale, of Hopetown, Bahamas, who recently bought his boat, Beautiful World, and finished 3-2 on the day. Both trail the winner of the first race, Neil Rattan’s Love Letter, which hails from Wesport, Conn.

Love Letter might’ve won the second race, too, if they’d passed New Wave on the second beat. New Wave helmsman Marty Kullman said, “We had the longest drag race with them —only half a boat length to windward the whole time.”

The biggest classes in the regatta are the J/24, Melges 24, and Sonar with 28, 19, and 17 boats, respectively. One of the smallest is the J/80 class, with only four of the six registered boats arriving at the starting line. Three of the boats are sailed by J/World Annapolis “school” teams, with a coach and three crew aboard, the latter rotating through helm, main trim, and bow positions after each race. Coach Jahn Tihansky’s team, with Eugene Alexander on the helm, took the gun in the first race when the non-J/World boat, Geoff Pierini’s Bada Bing!, went for the wrong finish line. Pierini evened the score in the second race after “J World Racing Team Green,” when tactician Tihansky placed his team on the outside of a 40-degree lift. All part of the every sailor’s race education—especially on a difficult light-air day.

Prizes for first-place finishes were awarded at the end of the post-race party, just before the showing of Race 1 of the America’s Cup. The biggest winner was local sailor Josh Wilus’s TBD, which won both races in the SR Max class. for their efforts, the crew won the Hall Spars & Rigging Boat of the Day award.

Most sailors would be happy to have a little more of the Hauraki Gulf’s wind out on Tampa Bay for Saturday’s racing, but maybe not all of it.

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