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Challenge successful after short delay

By DAVE ELLIS, Sailing
Published November 14, 2007


CLEARWATER - Dick Boblenz and his Clearwater Yacht Club regatta team sent 32 boats in five classes around buoys on the gulf the first weekend in November at the Clearwater Challenge Regatta. After a short delay while waiting for the wind to fill, two races were held each day for the racing classes and one each day for the racer-cruiser and the true cruising classes.

The racer-cruisers were a bit frisky and had a general recall in one of their starts. Adding to the intrigue, one of the true cruisers protested every other boat in her class, but the protest was denied.

The true cruisers were led by Lingaro, the Catalina 36 of Kenneth Carriero from the local club. Racer-cruisers, sailing a longer course, ended in a tie. Frank Hanna on the Beneteau 440 Prime Plus gained the prize by winning the final race over Hall Palmer of St. Petersburg Yacht Club on the Beneteau 53 Relativity.

Spinnaker boats sailed shorter races. The A division had Allen Thomas from Davis Island Yacht Club sailing his Farr 395 Wired to victory. The B division was another tie. Renegade, the Carrera 290 of James Meyers from DIYC took the trophy over Semper Fi, the J//29 of Ray Mannix of Dunedin Boat Club. Non-spinnaker class was won by the Morgan 27 Mystic, sailed by Jay F. Meyers of Clearwater YC.

MULTIHULL RACING: Florida's Gulfport Yacht Club staged the Area D-South Alter Cup catamaran qualifier on a warm, windy first weekend of November. The city embraced the event as part of a festival, accommodating the boats on the public beach with race headquarters nearby.

Windward-leeward courses with an offset at the top mark and gate at the leeward, twice around with a downwind finish kept crews on their toes. Many capsizes and a few breakdowns separated the fleet. Previous national Alter Cup winner Robbi Daniel was separated from his new A-Cat before the first start, only to see it sail by itself headlong onto a sea wall. Other boats had torn mainsails after capsizes and other woes.

Matt and Gina McDonald of Titusville won five of 10 races and had one third-place finish to go along with second places in the others. They, too, had one race with a temporary rig problem, their throw-out race. Sailing a Blade Formula-16 that his company produces, they often finished in front of faster F18s and Nacra-20s boat for boat.

Olli and Kelly Jason of Oldsmar sailed their Formula-18 Capricorn to a solid second place, winning three races. Brian Karr and John Casey placed third on the F18 Infusion

It was not an A-Cat weekend. These single-handed speedsters prefer winds under 15 knots and upwind legs of the course. Ben Moon, however, won a race Saturday. He was dropped in the water on a sudden lull and had a leg injury in Saturday's last race. With the 100-boat A-Cat Worlds starting a few days thereafter in the Florida Keys, he opted out of Sunday's racing.

It was a tired group of racers Sunday afternoon thanking Fairley Brinkley's race committee and sending the McDonalds on to the Alter Cup finals to vie for the nation's catamaran championship at Gulfport YC next April.

SPSA COMMODORE'S CUP: The St. Petersburg Sailing Association annual Commodore's Cup drew 15 boats to the start near the St. Petersburg Municipal Pier.

Spinnaker 1 class was taken by Josh Wilus on his SR21 Cake Walk; spinnaker 2 by Amanda, the Morgan 24 sailed by David Barber.

Non-spinnaker was led by the Wavelength 24 Limerick, sailed by Jim Kalahar; true cruising by Jack O'Connell on Gael Force, a Hunter 29.5.

[Last modified November 13, 2007, 22:41:09]

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