2007 Sperry Top-Sider Chicago NOOD, Day 2:If You Wanna Win, You Gotta Find the Wind

Those who found success on Saturday were the ones who found the elusive puffs


Michael Lovett

A second day of light, shifty conditions at the 2007 Sperry Top-Sider Chicago NOOD put tacticians to the test, and Convergence’s Andrew Kerr passed with flying colors. The four-time J/24 national champion and professional racing coach helped Donald Wilson’s Tartan Ten team stay in phase with the breeze and keep victory within reach. After winning Friday’s race, the team placed second in Race 2 and recovered from a premature start in Race 3 to finish 19th, which puts them in fifth place. Steve Knoop’s American Flyer leads the 33-boat division.”It was a tricky day out there for everyone,” says Kerr. “Almost like the Oakmont course for the US Open golfers.”Indeed, staying in the puffs today was about as challenging as staying on the fairways at that legendary Pennsylvania course, but Kerr helped Convergence hopscotch its way down the runs with great success. “In order to connect the puffs, you need to have somebody looking back all the time,” says Kerr. “You have to figure out the best way to stay in the velocity, whether that means going low, heading up, or even jibing off of the favored jibe to reach the better wind.”For Mike, Brian, and Dorothy Kuptz-the father-son-mother team that makes up the afterguard of the J/105 Latis-finding the best wind wasn’t always the result of calculated decision-making. In fact, on the first beat of Race 2, they just plain lucked out. “Before the race we decided to go right,” says Mike Kuptz. “But then we got shut out at the boat and were DFL at the start. We sort of got pushed left, so we rolled the dice and wound up third at the weather mark.”Luck isn’t the only factor in the Kuptz family’s success. The Milwaukee natives bought the boat-their first J/105-in January, and at this event-their first J/105 regatta-they have posted a 10-5-1. Mike Kuptz attributes his team’s rapid improvement to the generosity of fellow J/105 sailors.”All of our competitors have been very friendly and easy-going with information,” he says. “In between races, guys will come and say, ‘Here, try this with your backstay.’ And after we won the race today, they all cheered, ‘Here’s to the group from Milwaukee!'”Latis currently sits in second place, while Jeff Janov’s Invisible leads the 22-boat division. While beginner’s luck has been paying off in the J/105s, in the 12-boat PHRF 1 division, there’s no substitute for experience. Shortly before the start of Race 2, Leszek Ziolkowski’s seasoned Pinball Wizard team noticed a group of boats battling each other for position on the line. Rather than enter the fracas, says bowman Mike Schroff, the team opted to keep its distance. When the gun fired, Pinball Wizard sailed over top of the skirmishing boats and enjoyed clear air all the way to the mark.”That was the most entertaining thing that happened all day,” says Schroff, whose team sits in first place with a 2-2 score. “Now do I get some free Sailing World stuff?”Sorry, Mike, no swag for you just yet. But keep up the good work tomorrow and you may find some goodies at the podium.The 2007 Sperry Top-Sider Chicago NOOD continues through Sunday. For results, click here.


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