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Young sailors take to the seas

Published September 20, 2006

Sailing for the smallest tykes usually begins with sailing lessons at one of the area clubs over summer break. Those who want to continue with the fun look forward to their first racing event, the Bruce Watters Green Fleet regatta at St. Petersburg Yacht Club.

Many who went on to great sailing heights started in this regatta. Some of them were well down the standings in their first event.

On Sept. 9-10 there were 16 new sailors experiencing their first real race. SPYC Green Fleeters took the first three places. Tyler McNickel started out strong with two firsts, but faded and ended up third. Second was Leo Willett with one race win. Holly Welsh won only one of the four races, but was second in the others to lead the fleet.

Traditionally the first area event of the year for open Optimist Dinghy junior racing is the Bruce Neubauer regatta sailed from Treasure Island Tennis and Yacht Club the weekend after the Bruce Watters.

The Treasure Bay Recreation center adjacent to the yacht club was the venue this year for the 71 boats, after many years at Admiral Farragut Academy. The Green fleet for the new young sailors was staged on the mainland side of the Intracoastal Waterway north of the new Memorial Causeway, while the more experienced 8- to 15-year-olds sailed on the Island side.

The Green Fleet was the largest, with 41 Optis. Marcos Darcy and David Reed of Davis Island Yacht Club were second and third. Red Fleet and overall honors was topped by Michael Popp of Davis Island, followed by Michael Booker and Michael Zonnenberg and the first girl sailor, Mary Kate Hall. All of these sailors have the benefit of coaching by Team FOR.

Blue Fleet was led by Alejandro Ruiz Ramon, also of Team FOR.

HIGH SCHOOLS: Clearwater Yacht Club hosted the high school sailing district championship and qualifier for the 2007 Cressy Trophy Sept. 9-10.

There were 15 Lasers and 37 Laser Radials competing, each sailor vying for the chance to continue on to the Cressy Trophy finals. The Cressy has been the national high school championship since 1930.

After instructions and launching at the Clearwater Community Sailing Center, racing was held in the Gulf off the Sand Key beaches. Fairlie Brinkley's race committee included a number of sailors' parents from among the 28 high schools from throughout the Southeast.

Tom Monkus of St. Petersburg, director of the South Atlantic high school sailing organization, presented the awards. The qualifiers for the Cressy Trophy that will be in late October in Connecticut included Fred Strammer and Zeke Horowitz, both of Pine View School of Sarasota. Radial qualifiers included Mateo Vargas of Lakewood High and Emily Billing of Clearwater High.

COLLEGES: The first South Points race was sailed outside of Bayboro Harbor at USF with seven varsity and five JV teams competing. The USF team won with strong competition from the USF JV team. Young JV sailors Kristin Britt and Alyson Dagly tied with the Eckerd varsity team for first in the B division, losing the tiebreaker. Rollins College was a surprising third overall, with Eckerd varsity standing fourth.

The first national college regatta, the Harry Anderson, was held at Yale under the influence of Tropical Storm Ernesto. Wind on the first day gusted to 25 during racing. A higher gust stopped racing after capsizing most of the fleet.

Sunday was much lighter, but still gloomy. USF sailors Jesse Combs and crew Tim King won the A division among the 23 colleges while the only freshman sailor in the competition, Mitch Hall along with crew Elizabeth Foy, finished 13th in B fleet to stand USF in fourth in the final standings.

Coach Allison Jolly was delighted with the results in what is supposed to be a rebuilding year for the team.

SUNFISH: St. Petersburg sailor David Mendelblatt won the Sunfish Southeast Regional title for the third time. Racing was at James Island Yacht Club across the harbor from Charleston, S.C.

Obituary: Jack Sevier, a skilled and hugely popular windsurfing sailor, has died. He was 74.

[Last modified September 20, 2006, 07:35:15]

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