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Top two finishers advance at regatta

Published April 18, 2007


Women's match racing was pioneered in this country at St. Petersburg Yacht Club. Two events sponsored by Rolex are held at the club each year, with April 5-8 a developmental regatta for the sailing discipline. The top two finishers are invited to the main event, the Rolex Osprey Cup in October.

Betsy Alison of Newport, R.I., has been involved with women's match racing since its introduction. She is a five-time Yachtswoman of the Year and currently is head Paralympic sailing coach. She conducted a racing clinic Friday and provided on-the-water coaching.

Sailing the St. Petersburg Yacht Club Sonars, a 23-foot keelboat sloop with spinnaker, each of 10 teams raced every team at least once. This is the same format as the America's Cup finals, two boats to a race. Race officer Pat Seidenspinner ran 85 matches over two days.

Liz Baylis of San Rafael, Calif., with crew Lee Icyda, Karina Shelton and Suzy Leech, won every match they sailed on their way to victory. Rachel Silverstein of St. Petersburg, with crew Jee Lee, Kristen Herman and Becca Thomas, placed second and received a pass to the main event in the fall.

Silverstein and her crew have been competing in this event for five years. They were able to place ahead of regatta favorite Sandy Hayes of Massachusetts with crew Nancy Haberland, Cindy Olsen and Kiki Zanea, who ended up third.

STAR REGATTA: Davis Island Yacht Club was the venue for the Star Western Hemisphere Championship March 31 to April 6. It was an international fleet of top sailors from New Zealand, Norway, Finland, Ukraine, Canada, Australia, Bermuda and the United States.

The fleet of 25 Olympic Star boats was led by world champ Fredrik Loof and crew Anders Ekstrom from Sweden. Peter Bromby and Bill McNiven of Bermuda were second, followed by Australia's Iain Murray and Andrew Palfrey. New Zealand's Rohan Lord and Miles Addy placed fourth with Andy McDonald and Mike Wolf, the first U.S. boat, in fifth.

The wind was generally light, so the courses were relatively short for this class. Closeness of the competition is reflected in five winners in the six races. Sunday's racing was canceled when the wind failed to show up.

Star number 8000 attracted fond attention. Harry Walker has been sailing Stars since he was 15. There were a few tacks when he had help from 65-year-old crew David Hartman to get from one side of the boat to the other under the low boom, understandable since his first sail on a Star was 71 years ago. No, they did not place last in the fleet.

SUNFISH: The Florida State Championship was held from the St. Petersburg Sailing Center April 14-15. David Mendelblatt of the local fleet won last year, bringing the event to his home waters.

Saturday's excellent weather allowed for five races in a variety of wind conditions, but storm winds canceled Sunday's racing. Mendelblatt repeated as Florida Champ while the top woman was Lauren White, who races for the University of South Florida racing team.

FINN REGATTA: Zach Railey of Clearwater was the top placing U.S. sailor at the Princess Sophia regatta in Spain after taking second in an event on Lake Garda, Italy. His quest for the Olympics continues.

COLLEGE SAILING: Coach Allison Jolly's University of South Florida sailing team has qualified for the team racing and coed competition of the college national championship at Navy in Annapolis, Md. The women's qualifier is at the end of this month.

[Last modified April 18, 2007, 06:51:10]

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