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Keelboats get perfect kickoff to season

Published October 4, 2006

The traditional start of the keelboat racing season is the Bradenton Yacht Club Kickoff regatta. Sailors from around Tampa Bay meet southwest of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge outside the Manatee River.

Sept. 23 produced sunshine and ideal breeze for the sailors on 67 boats. Bradenton YC encouraged its considerable powerboat fleet to join as a flotilla of spectators, making the water busy.

The faster boats sailed two windward-leeward races. The J/109 Mariah sailed by Jose Suarez-Hoyos of Davis Island led the Spinnaker-1 class while Little Mac, an Elliot 770 from Bradenton sailed by Don Cleall, topped Spinnaker-2. The J/24 fleet of five boats sailed on this course, with Don Sayre of the Bradenton club on Black Star taking first.

Rudolph Reinecki skippered his Olson 30 Hot Tuna to the Non-Spinnaker-1 fleet, while Grover Griffin and his experienced crew sailed the Morgan 25 Odyssey to victory in Non-Spinnaker-2.

The next day was fine, but nearly windless. Only the Cruising fleet completed a race.

The True Cruising fleet has expanded, as owners of boats that were never meant for racing find they enjoy sailing around a pre-arranged course with similar craft. There were enough competitors to split the fleet, with Bob Miller's Catalina 36 Miller Time winning one fleet and Zig Zag, a Catalina 30 sailed by Ed Hartung, taking the smaller cruising fleet.

Competing for the first time was the Race Cruise fleet. These boats are not designed to be race boats.

This class has the option of using a racing or smaller spinnaker, or none at all. The handicap time applied reflects that choice.

The seven boats in this new division were led by Larry Willis in his Beneteau 32 Relentless.

BLIND WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: Jean-Paul Creignou of St. Petersburg won the International Federation event. The New York Yacht Club in Rhode Island was the venue, using J/22 sloops. His victory was in the B-3 class, for those who are less sight impaired. Crew was Jan Bartleson, also classified as a B-3 sailor and sighted sailor Patty Forrestel, both of Miami.

Also crewing was expert St. Petersburg sailor Colin Park. While Park is a successful racing skipper on a variety of sailing crafts, including an Olympic campaign for Canada in the 470, his prowess as an onboard coach was most valuable in this victory.

"We really had a group of people who work well together and we had a good time together," Creignou said. "Having the right combination of people is very important. It all came together."

Creignou was a crew on the USA Bronze medal boat at the 2000 Paralympic games.

CLASSIC MOTH NATIONALS: Local sailor Jeff Linton won the event for the third time in a close match with 29 boats.

The Moth has been sailed in the Tampa Bay area since the 1930s. At only 11 feet long and open in design, some interesting hull shapes have been tried. The boats became so extreme that the Classic fleet spun off from the International Moth Class. While the International Class now sports hydrofoils, the Classic fleet has more conventional, though challenging, hull shapes. Linton, like most Moth sailors, built his boat, modifying it from a proven twisted plywood shape.

COLLEGE: Mitch Hall, a USF freshman, won the South Atlantic single-handed sailing championship. The event was sailed at Charleston in Lasers. He goes on to sail in nationals in November.

SUNFISH: David Mendelblatt placed third in the Pan-Am trials at Sayville Yacht Club in New York. The winner was Olympic sailor Paul Forester.

OLYMPIC FINN: Clearwater sailor Zach Railey continues his quest to be the USA representative in the Finn. Palamos, Spain, was the venue for the European Championship. With most of the world's best sailors in the class competing, Railey gained experience while finishing near the top third.

[Last modified October 3, 2006, 21:58:24]

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