How Napoleon Caused the Detroit NOOD

According to Leo Tolstoy, and me, the French leader has a lot to do with one-design sailing on Lake St. Clair.

I’m just returning from the 2011 Sperry Top-Sider Detroit NOOD. It’s been a long weekend, but I’m wide awake. So I’m doing what I often do when I’m ready to fall asleep—reading “War and Peace.”

At the very beginning of Part 2, somewhere around page 714, depending which edition you’re reading, Tolstoy goes into historian-philosopher mode, talking about the infinite number of causes, small and large, behind the Napoleonic Wars, and how removing any one cause would’ve prevented the war from occurring the way it did, if the war would’ve happened at all.

All of history is this way, says Tolstoy, so you can look at any one event as being caused, or at least connected, to anything that came before it. My synopsis, I’m sure, is a complete bastardization of Count Leo’s words, and it’s beginning to sound like the premise of that crappy Ashton Kutcher movie, “The Butterfly Effect.” Regardless, Tolstoy got me thinking—you know how your mind races when you’re trying to fall asleep—Did Napoleon somehow cause the 2011 Sperry Top-Sider Detroit NOOD?


**_Despite the reference to “War and Piece,” most of my knowledge of Napoleon comes from the movie “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” (above).

Now I’m positive I’ve adulterated Tolstoy’s point. Still, it’s not too hard to trace how Napoleon did, in his own small way, cause the Detroit NOOD. Hear me out. Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812. We didn’t cover this in high-school history, but I’m guessing that Napoleon storming around the Continent had something to do with England’s half-ass commitment to the War of 1812, which—I do know this—it lost.

The culminating events of the War of 1812 took place in the Detroit area. In fact, just across the Detroit River from Bayview YC is the town of Tecumseh, Ontario, named for the Shawnee leader who died nearby fighting alongside meager British forces against the Americans. Tecumseh’s defeat is a big reason why the city of Detroit is presently part of the United States, not Canada, and, jumping forward to last Saturday night, a slightly smaller reason why Detroit NOOD principal race officer Peter Reggio, who was working double-duty as regatta tent cash box attendant, was in a position to accept both Canadian and U.S. currency in exchange for purple party tickets.


So did Napoleon cause the Detroit NOOD? No, not really. But you can’t say he’s not connected to it. And I bet Napoleon would make one heck of a Melges 24 skipper.

It’s time for bed, isn’t it?