Winnard Sees the Light, Hopes for Rain

Exlusive coverage of the 2006 Lands' End San Diego NOOD Regatta.

SD NOOD Friday Montage
Stuart Streuli

SAN DIEGO-With two firsts today Chris Winnard took the early lead in the Holder 20 class. But it's a tight fleet with some solid sailors among the seven Holders entered in the 2006 Lands' End San Diego NOOD, so for tomorrow Winnard's hoping for a little help from Mother Nature. "We're just hoping it rains tomorrow," said Winnard, "because that's home for us." Winnard, you see, is from Seattle, and while most people come to San Diego for sun, he'd rather take home first-place hardware than a tan.Today the rain held off until after sunset and all three circles-eight classes-got in a pair of races in a light westerly breeze. Sailing on the closer of the two outside circles, Winnard said that the breeze wasn't as patchy as it looked. "We felt it was very consistent and the shifts were predictable," he said. "It was a matter of trying to catch the right shifts, stay out of the light patches, and stay away from the other classes. We found a lot of the other Holders were getting covered by Ultimate 20s. We just tried to steer clear of them."In second in the Holder 20 class is another visitor from far away, Denver's Frank Keesling. Third is Glenn Van Heel from nearby Huntington Beach, Calif.With 17 boats, the Ultimate 20 division is one of the biggest at the regatta. At the top is a three-way tie, on points, for the lead. Geoff Gardner, Steve Bowman, and Mike Ellis each have four points after two races. Sharing the course with the U20s and the Holder 20s is the five-boat Catalina 36 fleet, which is being like by David Flint, who won both races.One feature somewhat unique to the San Diego NOOD is the inclusion of a number of dinghy classes, including the double-trapeze International 14, which has pulled in 20 boats. The I-14s, along with the 505s, sailed on the South Bay course, and enjoyed slightly more breeze. With a first and a fourth Kris Henderson is leading the I-14 fleet by three points over John Vincze. However from second through ninth is tightly packed with only six points separating Vincze from Brad Ruetenik in ninth place.Ruetenik and crew Patrick Murray, from San Diego, will be looking to move up in the standings. They just took delivery of a new boat and were still working the kinks out today. "We got it two days ago," said Murray. "We spent last night until 2 a.m. rigging the boat and we were rigging today right up until the first race. We were late to the first start by 7 minutes and ended up in the middle of the pack."For the second race, the I-14s were sent on their distance race-one lap around a windward-leeward course followed by a long bay tour. After trailing around the first part of the track, Ruetenik and Murray's new boat showed the fleet it's stern. "We played [the middle part of the distance course] right," said Murray, "and got a huge lead. Then we had some rigging issues and it turned into a bit of a luck-of-the-draw thing." With two breezes fighting each other as the front pulled over the Bay, the final part of the race proved quite difficult, and Ruetenik and Murray dropped to fourth. Still Murray was quite pleased to see the boat show its potential, even for a portion of the race. The rigging issues, he added, were quite minor and will be solved in time for tomorrow's racing.The other two fleets racing were the Beneteau 36.7 and 40.7 divisions sailing on the Far Offshore Circle. In both fleets, the current leader won the first race and finished second in the second. In addition, in both fleets the second-place boat has five points and the third-place boat has eight. Tom and Lois Hirsh's Tangerine is winning the 36.7 division while Cliff Thompson's Super Gnat has the lead in the 40.7 fleet.Racing in the 2006 Lands' End San Diego NOOD will continue through Sunday. Eight more divisions will join the fray tomorrow including the 21-boat J/105 fleet, the largest of the regatta.