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Still air cancels race, hands Tampa teen title

The Valentine's Day Regatta is limited to one day by a lack of wind.

By DORAN CUSHING

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 12, 2001


In another no-wind winter scenario on Tampa Bay, Shannon Heausler of Tampa was declared the overall winner of the Valentine's Day International Optimist Regatta after the scheduled second-day races were abandoned Sunday.

Heausler was the leader after the first day.

Sailing in a multinational fleet of youths ages 8-15, the 13-year-old Heausler won one race and finished second in the other Saturday to lead the gold division of advanced racers by one point over Shota Hiwa of Japan.

Aiko Tamura of Japan finished third, two points behind Hiwa. Juan Maegli of Guatemala finished fourth, and Norihiko Kiyama of Japan was fifth.

Taking top honors in the silver fleet of less experienced racers was Masao Sasagawa of Japan, who won both races Saturday. Cullen Williams of Palm Harbor finished second, followed by Maya Hall of Japan, Ian Heausler of Tampa and Emily Dellenbaugh of Easton, Conn.

Shannon Heausler, who comes from a sailing family (Ian is her younger brother), had scored well in recent local regattas, but this was the biggest win in her six years of sailing.

"I was kind of hoping there wouldn't be another race since I was set to win," Heausler said. "But if the wind had picked up, I was ready for another race."

Heausler said the most critical part of Saturday's wind-delayed racing was "getting clear air and staying focused."

The regatta, the largest annual Optimist Class regatta in the United States, was scheduled to begin Saturday morning, but the first race didn't start until late afternoon when the mild sea breeze filled in at less than 10 knots.

After a two-hour postponement on shore Sunday to allow the morning fog to lift, the fleet waited three hours on the water for wind before principal race officer Kenneth Andreasen called it quits.

The young sailors from 14 countries competed in two divisions, gold and silver, and three age-group classes, red fleet, blue fleet and white fleet. The most advanced racers filled the gold division, and the older sailors were in the red fleet.

More than 90 trophies were awarded.

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