By the end of the second day of the 2004 Texas NOOD regatta only one race had been scored and the immediate future looked bleak. Thanks to the remnants of hurricane Ivan there was no wind on Galveston Bay and Day 1’s racing was canceled. On Day 2, only one race was scored thanks to incredibly light and fluky conditions that included a final, race-abandoning wind shift of 180 degrees. Only the perseverance of the race committees and the determination of the racers put numbers on the scoreboard.
On the final day of racing, the wind gods smiled, albeit weakly, and as many as three races were sailed by the faster classes, two by the rest. Winning the largest class20 boatswas the crew of the J/80 GRRR, co-owned by John Kolius and Farley Fontenot, of Houston. “It was hell,” said Kolius about the first two days the regatta. “It’s hard to get excited when the first day of the regatta gets blown off and there are postponements. It’s a lot easier when there’s wind.”
Kolius and Fontenot have been sailing for many years, including a couple of J/24 World Championships, a 50-foot World Cup, and other high-level regattas, so they know each other well. So well, in fact, that the crew actually enjoys the husband and wife type of bickering that the two engage in during the races. “It takes the pressure of my wife, who sails with us,” said Kolius. What also worked for the GRRR team was their boat speed. “Our upwind speed was really good, it always has been,” said Kolius. “Downwind was hard, but everybody on the crew was tuned in to keeping their weight in the proper place.”
Winning the Wavelength 24 class was Bear, owned by the husband and wife team of Caron and Steven Choate, of Mandeville, La. Caron, who helms Bear, was quick to credit her crew for their victory. “Patience and crew work, that’s what made the difference for us,” said Caron. “We also loosened everything up, eased the sails and sailed the boat as full as we could.” It’s tough to sail the boat when you open the sails up for light air,” said Steven, who trims the headsail and spinnaker on Bear. “It takes total concentration to steer the boat well when the sails are bouncing all over the place. Caron and I talk a lot about pressure when conditions are light. We used to own a Spirit 20, which was really a dog in light air, and that’s helped us. If you love light air, light air loves you.” After the second race of the day, Caron and her crew thought the regatta was won. “We thought they wouldn’t race us again and were sure that we’d won the regatta,” said Caron. “We knew something was up when no one headed in after the second race and realized we had to win the regatta again.”
The Level 70 class was owned by Pirate, which sailed to three straight first-place finishes. “It was beautiful today,” said Richard Collier, of Seabrook, Texas. “The boat was fast, the crew was great, and we just felt fast all day.” Eric Olving, trimmer aboard Pirate credited the owner for a lot of their success. “The boat is well prepared,” said Olving. “Walter Prader, the owner made sure the boat is ready to go with new sails, and we had Jay Lutz calling tactics. Three bullets feels great, you can’t do better than that.”
Stepping into first place in the Level 40 class was Roxanne, a 1D35 owned by Doug Haas, who recovered well after their collision with the committee boat on Day 2. “We had a full-on match race with Kenai, a J/44 that was the only boat in the class that could beat us,” said Fred Soward, the tactician on Roxanne. “We did circles with Kenai before the start, just like the America’s Cup. We had great crew work.” Wayne Caldwell, co-owner of Roxanne, who was only able to sail on the final day of racing gave a simple answer when asked how he’d enjoyed his day. “A fun day,” he replied. “What do you think?”
Next year’s Texas NOOD will be hosted by the Houston Yacht Club, a few miles north of Lakewood YC, this year’s host.