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A Connecticut crew takes title

The trio, led by brothers Jody and Jay Lutz, wins the Lightning Class Midwinter Regatta.

© St. Petersburg Times
published March 18, 2002

ST. PETERSBURG -- Jody Lutz of Trumbull, Conn., sailing with brother Jay and Wade Schon, won the 55th running of the Lightning Class Midwinter Regatta. The competitors from 15 states and six countries raced Friday and Saturday on Tampa Bay off the Pier in winds 4-12 knots. Sunday's racing was canceled because of lack of wind.

Without a throw-out race, consistency was the key in this strong 72-boat fleet. David Starck of Kenmore, N.J., was a little less consistent for a second-place result, 14 points behind the Lutz team. Tito Gonzalezof Santiago, Chile, was another nine points back for third place.

While the Lutz family has been sailing the 19-foot Lightning for many years, few have the experience of Jim Carson of Brick, N.J. His first Lightning Midwinters Regatta in St. Petersburg was in 1955.

"It's been a long time since I've won a race here," he said Saturday.

But he was all smiles as he accepted congratulations from competitors after winning the second race of the day by a good margin. "Too bad it doesn't count for the Masters class," he said.

Those 55 and older also are scored separately, using only the first race of a day. Bill Mauk and crew of Miami were first among the Masters for the regatta.

Friday's race started in a sea breeze in midafternoon. Local knowledge would opine that a racer would go upwind to the right side of the course. On this occasion, however, the wind slowly died, making it go to the left 15 degrees. Several favorites were stuck on the right side of the course.

With a fleet of this talent, there are few passing lanes upwind or down, so finishes in the mid 30s were experienced by such sailors as current world champion Jeff Linton of Tampa. Claudio Biekark of Sao Paulo, Brazil, had no local knowledge and won that race by a comfortable margin.

Colin Park of St. Petersburg, president of the Lightning class, said: "This regatta was the best attended for some time. The Worlds are in Miami in 2003, so we had more boats for the Savannah, Miami, St. Petersburg circuit this year."

Designed by Olin Stephens in 1947, the Lightning has become a favorite large sailing dinghy in many countries.

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