For a while, it looked as though the final day of the 2005 Lands’ End Toronto NOOD wouldn’t feature any racing at all. At 11:30 Sunday morning, the surface of Lake Ontario resembled a mirror and there wasn’t enough breeze to dissipate smoke, let alone start a yacht race. Postponement flags went up on all four race circles at 11:30 and crews on the 197 boats entered in the regatta settled in for what appeared to be a long wait. Water balloons were tossed, loud music was played, and crew on winning boats started counting their chickens. But after an hour or so, faint cat’s paws started running across the still waters and race committees on all four circles started setting marks. Not every circle got races off, but three out of four circles did.
In the largest class in the regatta, the Shark fleet, Jeremy Crowder and his crew on Freak On A Leash, were hoping to get more races off Sunday. They’d scored a 5-2 so far in the regatta and weren’t looking all that special, but the final day’s racing made their regatta. “We got lucky today,” said Crowder, of Burlington, Ontario. “We’re usually good in the light stuff and we got a first in the first race. I grew up sailing on Hamilton Bay where it’s light and shifty a lot. On the second race’s final leg the wind shifted 180 degrees at least four times. We kept our heads out of the boat and watched what was happening to other people.”
Crowder also gives credit to his two-man crew. “We had really great crew work all day. We kept movement to a minimum and when they had to move around the boat, they were cat-like, and on all those hoists and douses they operated like a well-oiled machine.” This is Crowder’s first summer with the boat, but he’s got lots of experience in the class. “My parents owned a Shark and we raced it a lot,” he said. “But it got to the point where I either had to buy my own, or quit work and race theirs all the time.” Crowder’s advice for other Shark sailors in light air: “You really have to foot a lot, keep the sails loose, and keep crew movement to a minimum.”
The racing went right down to the wire in the 11-boat J/35 class as well. Mark and Kurt Sertl on Das Blau Max were locked in a winner-take-all battle with Roger Walker and his crew on Battle Wagon. “We had a lot of fun with Das Blau Max today,” said Geoff Moore, tactician on Battle Wagon. “We had to get one boat between us for us to win, so it was like match racing. In the end it was a tie-breaker and our worst finish was a fifth, and theirs was a fourth, so they won.”
Will Harris was the tactician on Das Blau Max and agreed with Moore about the match-racing aspect. “It was vicious match racing, we were within six boat lengths of them in the last four races,” said Harris. “Going in to the last race we had a one-point edge, but our worst race was a fourth, and theirs was a fifth, so we match-raced them around the course. They were faster than us downwind and passed us on the run. About 50 yards from the finish we managed to jibe on them pretty hard. They let us go for a long way, which we were happy to do. When the seventh-place boat became a threat to us we stuffed it head to wind and rolled into a jibe. At the finish, Battle Wagon got within two boat-lengths and they didn’t have an overlap.” This wasn’t the first time Harris and Moore had shared a racecourse: “I sailed with Geoff for 15 years,” said Harris, “and I wasn’t going to fall for the old banana-in-the-tailpipe trick, so we just got an overlap to leeward and forced them to finish, just like in team racing. It was pretty exciting; we drank all the beer on the boat before our heart rates got below 90.”
Taking the overall regatta win, and the Sunsail-sponsored trip to the NOOD Regatta Championship of Champions in Antigua next January was the Beneteau 36.7 Zingara, skippered by Richard Reid, of Toronto. “We had a great crew,” said Reid. “The core group has sailed together for 10 years. We did a lot of training for this regatta; we sailed a lot of away regattas (including the Annapolis NOOD, in which Zingara finished second), and that helped us a lot.” Reid also credits tactician Ken Mitchell. “Ken’s a great tactician and did an excellent job this weekend,” said Reid. “We were also very attentive to the shifts. Downwind it was crucial to play the numbers and sail tight angles.” Reid sailed a C&C ¾ Tonner before the Beneteau and did well in club races and local regattas, and bought the 36.7 for a specific reason. “I really wanted to sail one-design,” he said. “I like the boat because it’s fast enough, and I think we’re seeing the beginning of what will be a great class. I can race, but I can still take the boat up to the Thousand Islands for cruising with the family.”
The Martin 16 class used the Toronto NOOD to qualify the boat for the 2012 Paralympics, and while they got only four races in, the class was dominated by Asa Lllinares Norlin, of Sweden, who scored 5 points, ending up 16 points ahead of the second-place boat, skippered by Robert Jones. In the 2.4 Meter class, Allan Liebel was the overall winner. In the 8-Meter class, Venture III continued its winning ways, scoring five firsts in five races, and winning by six points over G. E. Cedric’s Norseman. In the second-largest class in the regatta, the J/105s, Robert Baker’s Planet B edged out John McLeod’s Hot Water to win the 17-boat class. For complete results, click here.