Who Cares About the Volvo Inshore Race, The NOOD's in Town!

The 277 boats in the 18 classes of the Lands' End Annapolis NOOD saw more challenging conditions on Day 2 as the wind lightened and the current stayed as strong, if not stronger than it was on Day 1.

Here's the difference between sailing in an eight-boat class and sailing in a 36-boat class at this year's Lands' End Annapolis NOOD. After six races in the J/29 class, and six first-place finishes, John Esposito and the crew of Hustler were considering whether to put the boat on a trailer on Sunday morning and head back to New York, or stick around and sail the final race. The second-place boat in their class, John and Linda Edwards' Rhumb Punch, has 14 points and can't catch Hustler. In the largest class at the Annapolis NOOD, the 36-boat J/105 class, Tom Coates also has an impressive scoreline-1,2,2,1,2,8¬-and is 14 points ahead of Jim Konigsberg's Inigo, but instead of breaking their boat down Sunday morning and heading home, they're getting prepared for another day of hard-core one-design racing, as theoretically, Inigo, Jack Biddle's Rum Puppy, Cedric Lewis's Mirage, and Brian Keane's Savasana, could all beat Coates if, and only if, he and his crew are disqualified and saddled with 37 points. Stay tuned. In the second-largest class at the NOOD, with 33 boats, skipper Tom Donlan and his crew Larry Landgraff and Mike Jordan are figuring out that their new J/22, Tiger, is a different beast than their previous ride, a J/30. When asked how they were doing, Donlan's first answer was a quick, "terrible." Donlan and his team shouldn't feel too bad, they're in 25th at the end of racing Saturday "It's like the difference between driving a Lincoln Navigator SUV, and a Porsche," said Donlan. "The J/22 responds quickly and is so maneuverable, and it's only the second time we've ever sailed it. We're still figuring where the strings are, not just when to use them." Donlan also credits the overall skill level in the class. "These people know how to start," he said. "We saw a hole in the front row at one of the starts yesterday, an absolutely fabulous spot to be, and we tried to get there. The next thing we knew, the hole was gone and we were in the third row." Today, Donlan and his team were able to nail two good starts, and one paid off and rewarded them with a 15th-place finish, not bad at all when you look at the scores and saw that Greg Fisher and his team, who are tied for first with Peter McChesney, scored a 17th in the same race. Tiger's second great start didn't pan out quite so well. "We started on the lifted end of the line," said Donlan, "and it was funny, not many other people were trying to get there. We found out why when all the boats on the other end of the line got a 20-degree shift and passed us." In the Melges 24 class, the co-skippers of Bling Bling, Geoff Ewenson and Geoff Jahn are giving Chuck Holzman and his crew on Flyer a run for their money. They started the second day of racing only one point behind Flyer, and their 1,2 in the first two races, which mirrored Holzman's 2,1, kept them there. Then things headed south for team Bling Bling. "The last race got real funky," said Ewenson, who's helming the Melges. "The wind got light and we just didn't feel like we had as good relative boatspeed as we had in more breeze. As soon as we have crew on the rail and I can press, we're as fast, or faster than anybody out there. I could do better, I'm probably not feeling the boat as well as I should, and we finished fifth." What Ewenson failed to mention without prodding, was that this was the first time he'd ever driven a Melges 24. We asked Ewenson what his tactical plan for the final day of racing was. He looked at the two of his teammates who were standing with him, Jahn and Skip Dieball, and said, "I like match racing, it's a fun sport."Current was as big a factor on Saturday as it was on the first day of racing, especially for those not used to the conditions off Annapolis. Fotis Boliakis, the skipper of the Star Team Poseidon, found out the hard way. "Today was not a good day," he said of his 10, 17 for the day. "This fleet is very competitive and today was the day for full power through the chop as the wind got light. It's only my second time racing in Annapolis, and I missed the current. I wasn't aware of how strong it was at the top mark. I went where I thought the breeze was, the middle of the racecourse. The boats that went deep left had less breeze, but no current. It was challenging, but tomorrow's another day."For complete results, see www.sailingworld.com