Paralympic Games hopefuls take to bay
By DAVE ELLIS
Published April 4, 2007
The spring regattas on Tampa Bay have been blessed with excellent breeze during the heart of the racing season.
The Disabled/Open Regatta March 22-25 included all three classes of boats that will compete in the China Paralympic Games. It was the first time the Sonar three-person keelboat had the top teams with their regular crew competing on the same course.
Rick Doerr of New Jersey is ranked No. 1 on the U.S. Paralympic Sonar team. But he and his crew had an uncharacteristic regatta, finishing fourth out of 11 boats.
David Schroeder of Miami with crew Keith Burhans and John Pucillio of Rochester, N.Y., pulled out a one-point win by virtue of two excellent starts on the final day's racing. The 2004 Paralympic representative, Paul Callahan of Cape Coral, sailing for the first time with crew Tom Brown of Maine and Roger Cleworth of Brandon, led the regatta until Sunday, slipping to second. They will be training on Tampa Bay with coach Jeff Madrigali to prepare for the Paralympic Trials this summer. Cleworth is a top-ranked 2.4 class sailor now sailing on the Sonar.
The 2.4 class was dominated by Canadian teams. The new Skiff Universal Design class saw Karen Mitchell of Deerfield Beach and crew JP Creignou of Gulfport win in the seven-boat fleet.
MICHELOB ULTRA AMBER CUP: The March 24 regatta started east of the St. Petersburg Pier and wound around several navigation marks on Tampa Bay. It was a fast race with most boats finishing the 18 miles in a little over three hours.
The Spinnaker 1 class leader was Fred Goldman of Bradenton YC on a J/109; Spin 2, Robert Hobbs and Al Thompson of Davis Island YC on a J/33; Spin 3, Ed and Scott Peters of Davis Island YC on their Abbot 33; Spin 4, Grant Dumas' Ranger 33 of St. Petersburg YC.
The non-spinnaker class was led by a long margin by Richard Ware's Cal 25 from SPYC. The three True Cruising classes were won by Don Miller of St. Petersburg Sailing Association on his Catalina 40, Tim Roberts of Clearwater YC on the Endeavor 35 and Don Bates of Treasure Island Tennis and Yacht Club on an Alberg 35.
There were two Racer-Cruiser classes, led by Hall Palmer's Beneteau 53 of SPYC and Mike Doyle of DIYC on his Irwin 39.
The Racer-Cruiser class has the option to decide whether to use a spinnaker at the regatta's start and their handicap rating is adjusted accordingly. This has cut deeply into the traditional non-spinnaker class.
A compromise is being debated where the classes would be combined and an earlier spinnaker decision required.
SUNCOAST RACE WEEK: The main event has long been this three-day point-to-point regatta. Last Friday saw 42 boats start off the Pier and head east, then south through the Skyway to a finish near the Manatee River entrance. Saturday a race around lower Tampa Bay and out Southwest Pass and back for the faster boats saw the wind turn from east to west during racing.
Sunday was a sprint back under the Skyway to a finish near Pinellas Point, making it easier for boats to go home to their many ports of call.
The multihulls saw Peter Wormwood's 27-footer win on handicap time over the blazing fast Stars and Stripes 60 of Steve Liebel that completed Sunday's course in 45 minutes.
Spinnaker class winners included Robert Hobb's Taylor 9.8, George and Ann Cussins' J-105 and Don Fretz on his Wavelength 24.
Non-spinnaker was led by Bill Meyer's Ericson 32. The Racer-Cruiser fleet winners were the Beneteau 44 of Frank Hanna and the O'Day 40 of Richard Gress. True Cruising, sailing a shorter course, was led by Tim Roberts' Endeavor 35.