For Winning Crew, Friendship Comes First
Tim Wilkes/ www.timwilkes.com| |Where did the crew of the Tartan Ten Friendship find the foam “noodles” covering the boat’s toerail? In the swimming pool of skipper Doug Scheibner’s neighbors, of course!|
When the racing finished on Sunday, Doug Scheibner didn’t think his Friendship team had won the Tartan Ten class—though he knew the points were close between his boat, Steve Sackett’s Cracker, Todd Tigges’ Hot Ticket, and Michael Eckstein’s Demon Rum. I was among the crew on Demon Rum, motoring back to Bayview YC, when Scheibner phoned to congratulate us on what he assumed was our victory.
“I had no idea we won until we came to Bayview for the awards ceremony,” says Scheibner, who keeps Friendship at nearby Crescent Sail YC. “But we knew every point was important. We started at the back of the pack both races [on Sunday] and kind of crept our way through the fleet, hit some good shifts, and kept the boat moving well.”
Friendship‘s fourth- and fifth-place finishes in the final two races were enough to edge out Cracker for the division title. Hot Ticket _won a tie with _Demon Rum for third. The level of competition in the T-10 class—in which a mere four points separated the first four boats—compelled the regatta’s organizers to award Friendship the overall trophy, which includes an invite to compete against the winners of the other Sperry Top-Sider NOOD events at the NOOD Championships in the British Virgin Islands come November.
The key to Friendship‘s comebacks on Sunday was the team’s ability to change gears as the conditions changed from windy and wavy to light and lumpy. “We did a good job of making adjustments,” says Scheibner. “We made changes to the rig and changed out the battens when the wind went light. And then we just went boat by boat, picking ’em off one at a time. It was really a thrill.”
For Scheibner’s daughter, Lara, sailing in her first Sperry Top-Sider Detroit NOOD, the most memorable moment was watching a cluster of boats finish within seconds of each other on Friday. For trimmer Tom Norris, the highlight was outlasting Hot Commodity on the second beat of the penultimate race. “We were positioned just to weather of them, with a mile of racecourse ahead of us,” says Norris. “We just slowly ground them down and eventually rolled right over them. That was just a nice piece of sailing, I guess.”
Bowman Andrew Lockhart will never forget the start of the fourth race. “I was on the bow, going, ‘Two boatlenghts! Twenty seconds! One boatlength! Looking good! We’re holding people out! Ten seconds! You’re over! You’re over! Five seconds! You’re still over! You’re still over! Two, one, gun!’ And then it was just like, ‘Oh well, I guess I’ll just go sit back on the rail.'”
Scheibner credits the 19-year-old funnyman at the front as “the juice that gets us going.” The jovial attitude of the entire Friendship crew is typical of the T-10 class. “In this class, everyone sails hard and sails fair,” he says. “And after the race, it’s just a great group. Everyone supports each other. That’s what’s important to me: the integrity of the fleet.”
“To me, the T-10 represents the bare bones of sailing,” continues Scheibner. “You’re limited to two sails a year, so it’s a relatively affordable boat. And with a 1275-pound weight limit, you can sail with five, six, seven, or eight crew. It allows a lot of families and groups of friends to sail in a competitive class for not a lot of money.”
In light of Saturday night’s accident, Scheibner feels especially grateful for his victory. “It’s been an incredibly eventful weekend,” he says. “But it just makes you feel thankful for the opportunity to get together with your friends and family and sail in a regatta that has been pointed to by so many people as the one to win.”
Friendship Takes It Home
Following a day of intense racing on Lake St. Clair, Doug Scheibner and the crew of the Tartan Ten Friendship won first place overall at the 2010 Sperry Top-Sider Detroit NOOD. Scheibner’s team rose to the top of a division in which a mere four points separated the first four boats. Look for an in-depth interview with the entire Friendship crew coming soon.
Tragedy at Bayview
There was an automobile accident at Bayview YC on Saturday evening that injured numerous competitors and resulted in the death of one sailor. For the official Bayview YC statement, click here.
Taking a Cue from Red Bull
Tim Wilkes/ www.timwilkes.com| |Days like today, when boats bob around for hours waiting for enough wind to race, are just some of the reasons why sailing isn’t a popular spectator sport.|
The Red Bull Air Race is in town this weekend, and the organizers have pulled out all the stops to make the event appeal to spectators. Airplanes are twisting around pylons in the Detroit River, and crowds are gathering along both the Canadian and American shores to take it all in. The Red Bull marketing machine has left no stone un-branded. Even the keycards at the Marriott bear the Red Bull logo.
My first reaction upon seeing the media blitz surrounding the air race was, “Since when do people watch air races?” Since now, it turns out. Airplane racing may not regularly make the SportsCenter rotation, but the Red Bull event is incredibly spectator-friendly, and it doesn’t take long to transform innocent bystanders into air-race fanatics.
In light of the success of the Red Bull Air Race, I can’t help but wonder if sailing could become an equally popular spectacle. Then again, considering that, on Lake St. Clair today, variable winds limited many fleets to only one drifter race, it seems the sport of sailing has an uphill climb towards mass appeal. But that’s not to say there aren’t things we could do to make our sport, the Sperry Top-Sider Detroit NOOD specifically, more spectator-friendly.
Mark Paul and Greg Johnston, who are crewing aboard Michael Goran’s Mumm 36_ Vanguard_ in IRC-A, seem to agree. “I have friends who are interested in coming out to watch the races,” says Johnston, “but it’s difficult from a spectator perspective. One, it’s hard to find boats to take spectators out on the water. And we race so far out in the lake, it’s not possible to sit on the shoreline and watch.”
What if we held the races right in the Detroit River, a la Red Bull? Paul, for one, wouldn’t be willing to trade steady breezes for crowd pleases. “I’m going to venture to say that Vanguard wouldn’t be interested in something like that,” he says.
“What does happen around here,” continues Paul, “is there’s a race that starts out in the lake but finishes right here off Detroit YC, across the river. The finish is right off a pier, and it creates an ideal situation for spectators.”
But even the finish-near-shore idea could cause problems for larger boats. “Once you get into the river,” says Johnston, “you’re dealing with shifty wind conditions, you’re dealing with depth and current. For some of the bigger boats in our fleet, it could be tricky.”
Tricky, but not impossible. “It would definitely be an obstacle course for boats our size,” says Paul. “But these boats are so majestic and beautiful, it would certainly be a sight to see.
“That’s an idea. There’s something there,” continues Paul. “But on the whole, I just don’t think our sport is conducive to spectators. It just isn’t.”
You’re probably right, Mark. But it never hurts to think big.
One Big Happy Family
Tony Bessinger| |Dave Disbrow’s Gotcha (right, at the 2008 event) is one of several veteran Tartan Ten teams competing at the 2010 Sperry Top-Sider Detroit NOOD.|
The Tartan Ten class—as any T-10 sailor will tell you in the first seconds of any conversation, nautical or otherwise—is home to some of the most die-hard one-design racers in the sport. Year after year, you see the same teams coming together, bound less by matching crew gear than by shared memories of summers past. Because the class is strongest in the Great Lakes, T-10s always make a big showing at the Detroit and Chicago NOODs. With 17 of the 33-footers competing here on Lake St. Clair and 31 expected on Lake Michigan next weekend, 2010 is no different.
So what makes T-10 sailors so loyal to their class? Simple. They like each other. With a core group of veteran teams like Dave Disbrow’s Gotcha, Heidi Backus’ Nuts, Steve Sackett’s Cracker, and John Schaeffer’s Pulsation, competitors have come to know and appreciate one other over the years. In Race 2 today, a massive right shift shot Gotcha—and Michael Eckstein’s Demon Rum, aboard which I was crewing—to the back of the pack. “The only consolation for us,” says Gotcha‘s Kim Disbrow, “was to see Pulsation round the mark first.”
Kim Disbro was only 12 years old when her father, Dave, purchased Gotcha in the early ’80s. “I was hoping he’d buy a powerboat,” says the Vermillion, Ohio, native. “When he bought the T-10, I swore I’d never step foot on it.” She has been happily eating her words for the last three decades. (Sorry to date you, Kim.)
Tim Wilkes/ www.timwilkes.com| |**Day 1 of the 2010 Sperry Top-Sider Detroit NOOD was one of strikes and gutters for Michael Eckstein’s Demon Rum (foreground). **|
For Michael Eckstein, buying Demon Rum was no choice at all. Eckstein had been crewing on the boat for years when, one day, owner Jack Otrompke announced, “You’re buying my boat.” Eckstein did as he was told. He bought the boat, treated it to a complete overhaul (after his wife, Beth, mangled her leg stepping through the rotten floorboards), and, for the last decade, has been keeping the Rum flowing at regattas throughout the Great Lakes.
On the long motor in from the racecourse today, following a triumphant third-place finish in Race 3, the Demon Rum crew—which also includes Sarah Conger, Jessica Chorostecki, and Ken Gutelius—began fantasizing about what kind of boat they’d buy if money were no object. After the initial suggestions of TP52, Santa Cruz 70, and International 14, Michael Eckstein settled the matter once and for all. “If I could have any boat,” he said, “I’d have this one.”
Doug Scheibner’s Friendship leads the division with two bullets in three races.
T-10s Holding Steady in the Great Lakes
Mike Eckstein, T-10 Demon Rum:
Expect close and competive again this year in the T-10 class. With five former NA champions and the majority of the fleet able to pull off a Top 5 finish, it should be another great regatta. Jeff Sampson, on 217, Heidi Backus on Nuts, and Doug Scheibner on Friendship will be boats to keep an eye on.
Amongst the contingent from the large Lake Erie fleet, Cracker, Gotcha, Wildcat, Distant Thunder, and Pulsation will be looking for a podium finish.
Now in it’s 32nd year, the T-10 Class keeps going strong. The updated rules package, affordable boats, sail limits, and very competitive racing keep everyone coming back. T-10’s are often the largest fleet at the Detroit NOOD, Chicago NOOD, Cleveland Race Week, and the Verve Cup. This year’s NOOD is also serving as an excellent warm up to the upcoming T-10 North American Championship in Detroit at Bayview this August.
**Vipers Taking Hold in Detroit
Lee Shuckerow, Viper 640 Jackpot:
This is the first year we have a class for the Detroit NOOD. Our team has been sailing the winter circuit and we’re trying to get a class in the Detroit area. In the breeze, these boats are great to watch. They’ve been around for 14 years and are now selling like crazy. We’ve sailed against Melges 20s several times, and we’re faster on all points of sail. At half the price of the Melges, the Viper 640 is a great boat. It’s only 748 pounds and easy to sail. A lot of people look at them and feel untimidated—until they actually sail one. We just had a demo at Crescent Sail YC, and we were hitting speeds in the high teens with two rookies on the boat!
The Ultimate Update
Gregg Henning, Ultimate 20 Class President:
Defending North American champion Tac Boston will be the one to watch in the Ultimate 20 class at the NOOD. The long-distance award goes to Steve Rose from Columbia, S.C. We currently have 28-boats pre-registered for the 2010 North Americans in Lake Dillon, Colo., in August.
What’s Happening in Your Fleet?
Next week, I’m headed to Detroit to cover the Sperry Top-Sider NOOD regatta. With more than 150 boats signed up already for 21 divisions—everything from Audi Melges 20s to Tartan 10s—I’ll be mining the fleets looking for leads. Earlier this week I reached out to the event’s class coordinators, asking them for the latest news on their respective fleets.
First to reply was Gordon Couture from the S2 7.9 class:
“Expect stiff competition from the always-competitive S2 7.9 class again in 2010. Amongst the competitors are three of the top four boats from last year’s Detroit NOOD, as well as two of the top three from the 2010 St. Pete NOOD. In 2009, first and third were only separated by two points, and second was decided by the tie breaker rule.
“The 7.9 class rules keep both old and new boats competitive. As in any good one-design class, the emphasis is on boathandling, strategy, and tactics. The army of seasoned skippers and veteran crew guarantees close racing again in 2010. Just as important as good competition are the friendships that have developed shoreside within the class. Skippers and crew alike look forward to renewing old acquaintances at NOOD regatta parties around the country.”
Bayview YC legend and overall winner of the 2007 Detroit NOOD Burt Jones passed away earlier this year, but his crew will be sailing his Express 37 Burden IV at this year’s event. Check out SW‘s interview with Jones following his 2007 NOOD victory.