This Time's For Real: Flight Simulator Takes Texas NOOD

The Corsair 28R /Flight Simulator/ is the overall winner of the 2007 Sperry Top-Sider Texas NOOD.

Tony Bessinger

The 18th Sperry Top-Sider Texas NOOD ended as it began, with light air frustrating competitors and race committees alike. One race was run for the Division B racers, but the larger boats on the Division A course waited in vain for the wind to arrive. The A Division race committee saw several shots of breeze, but it never amounted to more than three knots, and they finally called off racing, much to the relief of the racers sweltering in what was the hottest day of the three-day series.The overall winner was Tom Reese's Corsair 28R Flight Simulator. Reese, who sails out of the Youngstown, N.Y. YC is the first multihull sailor to win the overall trophy at the NOOD. We sat down with Reese after the award ceremony to find out what it takes to keep a 28R moving in negligible breeze. "In light air we tend to sail the boat lower and deeper downwind than the other boats," said Reese. "That's where we made our biggest gains this weekend. Over the years we've sailed with the same team and we've experimented quite a bit. When there's breeze, and there's the possibility of getting on a plane, we sail high and fast." Jan Steyn, of Youngstown, N.Y., has been Reese's tactician for eight years, and the communication between skipper and tactician is great, according to Reese. "We talk a lot back-and-forth and watch the compass," said Reese. "When we're sailing downwind, Jan trims the spinnaker and sits right next to me. It's a constant thing; I talk about how the boat feels and he talks to me about the spinnaker. We work the boat hard."Flight Simulator hasn't spent a lot of time on the water this year. Reese and his team were practicing off Marathon Key, Florida before Key West Race Week last January in about 20 knots of breeze when the rig came down. "A spreader pin failed while we were sailing upwind," said Reese. "The rig just fell away to leeward. Nobody said anything, we just pulled the mast aboard in pieces and went in." Reese was able to borrow a rig for Race Week, and for the St. Petersburg NOOD, in which they placed fourth. They ordered a rig from Martsrand, in Sweden, which took a while to arrive; in fact, they were still tuning the new rig as late as the final day of the NOOD.Originally a monohull racer, Reese is looking forward to the NOOD championship, which will be held in the British Virgin Islands in November aboard 39-footers provided by the charter company Sunsail. Reese has been to the B.V.I. many times before, and said it shouldn't be too hard to entice his crew to join him down in the Caribbean.In the seven-boat Etchells class, David Whelan scored four first-place finishes, a fourth and a third and ended up tied with Marvin Beckman's Keep Smiling. Since Whelan had more first-place finishes than Beckman, he took first in class for the series. In third was Gaseous, co-skippered by Christopher Klein and TK Fransisco. Ben Miller, who finished seven points ahead of Lone Star, skippered by Robert Caulkins, won the three-boat Star class decisively. In third was Geoffrey Ibbott's Quickstep. Seven boats sailed in the J/24 class, which ended up being a close contest between Doug Weakly's Red Eye Express and Stuart Lindow's Tropical Aggression. In the end, Lindow scored a fifth in the final race, while Weakly placed third and, as he's done before here at the Texas NOOD, Weakly picked up the win. Code Blue, owned by Charles Singstad placed third.The largest class in the regatta was the 14-boat J/22 class, which was won by Steve Willits. Eric Faust's Nurfaz was four points behind and took second, and Brent Koepke's Jurassic J was third. The nine-boat Ensign class, which only sailed on Saturday and Sunday, got three races in, and Tom Meeh scored a 2,2,1 to take first overall. In second was Crusader, skippered by Dick Baxter, and David Curtin's Thumbelina took third. Gene Ferguson sailed yet another stellar regatta in the five-boat Catalina 22 class, scoring nothing lower than a second-place finish to win the class by 10 points over Mike Butler's SS Minnow. In third was Johannes Brinkman's Strings Attached.Racers on the Division A course were only able to sail two, or three races in this year's Texas NOOD, but that didn't mean there wasn't some good competition. In the Level 70 fleet, Tom Sutton's Leading Edge beat Fred Prelle's Predator by one point to take first place. Jeff Kitterman's AS-IF took third. The Level 130 racers ended up in a tie between Fred Lindsey's TLT and Scott Surprise's Peregrine, which Lindsey won by having the last best finish. Four points back was TRex, skippered by Phillip Davis. The five-boat J/109 class was won by Albert Goethe's Hamburg, with Jim Powers' Sea Trial taking second, and Jim Bradley's Surprise placing third.Eleven boats sailed in the J/80 class, and has happened so many times before, Jay Lutz was the class winner, with three straight first-place finishes. Wild Hare, skippered by Claude Welles, placed second, and Walter Caldwell's Cluster was third. Topping the nine-boat J/105 class was Solaris, skippered by Bill Zartier. J Bee Bednar's Stinger was four points behind in second, and Malcolm Bremer's Babe was third.