Team Rush Takes Larchmont

Bill Sweetster and the crew of the J/109_ Rush _work out on the fleet and take home the Sperry Top-Sider Larchmont NOOD's overall title.

Sailing World

Fast and Grey In Larchmont

Some regattas just get a bad rap. It only a takes a drifter or two before a place gets an undue reputation for being a no-wind racetrack. Fair enough for Long Island Sound in the summertime, where the old-timers say it just doesn’t blow like it did back in the day. (Something to do with all the development on nearby “Lawng Island.” But I’ll be honest. I’ve been a spectator or a competitor at the Sperry Top-Sider Larchmont NOOD for the past four or five years, and I don’t ever remember once drifting around waiting for nothing to happen. It’s better in September, I suppose.

There was no idle time this weekend either in Larchmont (N.Y.) For the final event of the 2010 Sperry Top-Sider NOOD Regatta series, 70-something entries in nine classes sailed two race-packed days: one with brilliant sunshine and mind-bending windshifts, and one with a 20-knot easterly pushing in big swells and steep chop. There was plenty of current, too. Just to make things interesting.

While the lighter winds and shifts of Saturday rewarded those with their collective heads out of the boat, Sunday was all about speed through the waves, and finding the stronger winds. Many competitors reported the left side of the course as the place to be early in the day, but the right side came into its own toward the end. The middle, more than few unhappy crews told me, was not the place to be. But, isn’t that always the case?

Even with the rougher conditions, which will usually separate the cream, there was plenty of tight-pack racing and battles for points. This was especially true among the Beneteau 36.7s. Series-leader and repeat champion, John Hammel’s Elan, had its work cut out today, stuffing points between themselves and William Purdy’s Whirlwind. In one exhausting tacking duel in the day’s second race, with six or seven jibes, Hammel’s A-team ground past Purdy, one jibe at a time to seal the class win.

The J/105s, on the same circle, were mixing it up as usual, and when it was all said and done, Joerg Esdorn’s Kincsem, eeked out the class win again with a single point to spare to Kevin Grainger’s Gumption. Kincsem’s win wasn’t pretty, but it’s solid proof that consistency is no easy accomplishment in the J/105 class, no matter how long you’ve been at the helm.

The J/109 entourage is a fixture of the Larchmont NOOD, and with 2009 overall winner, Rick Lyall’s Storm, in attendance, we figured it was going to be a full-spirited battle among the top-three boats in this eight-boat fleet. But that was before the close of business on Saturday, when Bill Sweetster’s Rush sailed into Larchmont Harbor with three bullets notched on the results sheet. They followed form today, winning the first race, and finishing second in the other two to secure the class win, and the overall regatta title. The “overall,” of course, earns them a berth at the Caribbean NOOD Championship in November where they’ll take on winning teams from the other eight NOOD Regattas.

As fast as team Rush appeared on the water, they were even quicker once they hit the dock—off they rushed to catch flights back to their hometown Annapolis, unaware they’d won. I’m sure he knows by now, but we’ll hunt Sweetster down first thing Monday morning and get the real-deal debrief, ASAP.

For results from our other fleets—the Oakcliff Sailing Center's Melges 24 sail-off, the IOD slugfest, the Shield-class shuffle, the Viper standoff, and Christopher Dragon's slaying of the J/122s—jump on over to the results. Time to hit the road back to Rhode Island, where the 12-Meter North American's are on deck.