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Miami's Diaz wins by one in Laser race

By DAVE ELLIS
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 18, 2002

ST. PETERSBURG -- Augie Diaz of Miami won the regatta by one point in the 37-boat Laser Master North Americans off the Pier that wrapped up Sunday.

Chris Raab of Sunset Beach, Calif., was second.

The Laser is a handful for an experienced sailor, a boat that many America's Cup sailors once raced and still do when not on the big boats.

The Masters, unlike the usual vision of young and fit Olympic hopefuls sailing these boats, is for sailors over the age of 35.

Age brackets are in 10-year increments, with bonus points for vintage. Because Diaz is a Master in the 45-55 age range he got two points added to each race score. Raab, as an Apprentice (ages 35-45), added three.

St. Petersburg's Ian Lineberger was second in the Masters class, Tampa's Buzzy Heauser was third. Second to Raab in Apprentice was Eric Minth of New York, followed by Randy Rea of Crystal River.

The Grandmaster class (ages 55-65) saw a tie between Dave Olsen of Sarasota and Lindsay Hewitt of Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., with the tiebreaker going to Olsen. Third was St. Petersburg's Dave Ellis.

Peter Seidenberg was fifth overall and first in the Great Grandmaster (over 65). Henry DeWolf of Palm City was second and Ken Hopkins of Statesville, N.C., third.

Friday's winds were light with lumpy seas. There was a significant speed difference among boats as some knew better how to handle those conditions.

Saturday's racing was postponed until the afternoon, awaiting the storms that ultimately missed the bay. The one race started in a fine breeze that died down and went left near the end, much to the dismay of those playing the current on the right.

Sunday started at 11 knots while sailing out to the course. By the time the Race Committee anchored it was a solid 20. When the starting sequence began there was a gust to 30 knots, and the 14-foot craft was sent home. On the upwind sail to the harbor gusts were more than 35 knots.

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