Zooming Along, Rain or Shine

At the 2010 Sperry Top Sider Caribbean NOOD Championships, sailors haven't let a little downpour slow them down. (View_ _Photos)

Sailing World

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For the eight teams racing Sunsail 39s in the British Virgin Islands, a little rain can't spoil the party.Michael Lovett

And I wonder, still I wonder, who'll stop the rain.

That Creedence Clearwater Revival refrain started playing in my head earlier today, and, like the rain, it hasn't stopped.

I enjoy the song well enough, so I'm not complaining. Neither are the eight crews who flew down to the British Virgin Islands to compete for the 2010 Sperry Top-Sider Caribbean NOOD Championship. Through two soggy days of racing—a pair of windward-leewards on Saturday in Sir Francis Drake Channel and today's petite distance race along Virgin Gorda from the Baths to the Bitter End YC—Steve Lopez and his St. Petersburg NOOD-winning crew lead the pack, with Mike Johnson's Seattle-winning team in second.

In the downpour prior to the start of today's race, which I watched through a porthole aboard Grand Cru, the 43-foot catamaran serving as the race committee boat, a good-natured call came in over the radio: "The weather's not like this in San Diego."

Bill Campbell, commodore of San Diego YC and winner of the Southern California event, was absolutely right. It isn't raining in San Diego. And in San Diego, the raceboats probably don't have biminis and barbeques hanging off the back. But then again, in San Diego, you don't have seven other like-minded crews with nothing better to do for the next week than squeeze every last knot of speed out of a Sunsail 39, make a few new friends, and keep the cooler stocked with ice.

Shortly after tonight's buffet dinner, we invited representatives from each team to come up on stage, take the microphone, and share their tales of woe, with prizes awarded for the best sob stories. Detroit's Ken Schram elicited a collective "Awww" as he told his fellow competitors about the lightning bolt that nearly threw him overboard. But it was Marblehead winner Russ Silvestri who really tugged our heartstrings, explaining how, on the first beat of the first race, a bottle of rum spilled belowdecks. By the end of the race, the alcohol fumes had set off the boat's propane detector. The alarm emitted an incessant "beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep" than tormented the crew for the rest of the day. In light of the team's aural misery, the judges awarded Silvestri's crew top prize for their tear-jerking tale, but everyone here deserves an "atta boy" for the persistence of their smiles amidst so much precipitation.

View_ photos from the 2010 Sperry Top-Sider Caribbean NOOD Championship._