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Long-distance travelers win regatta

Team of brothers from Canada team takes overall honors at Midget Ocean Racing Club event.

By DORAN CUSHING

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 12, 2001


Some regattas give an award to the competitor who has traveled the greatest distance. At the Midget Ocean Racing Club Midwinter Regatta on Hillsborough Bay, that honor -- and overall honors -- went to the Clarke brothers team aboard Hot Tamale.

Chris and Bob Clarke of Toronto share ownership and responsibilities aboard their red-hulled race boat, with Chris responsible for the "pointy" end as foredeck crew, and Bob at the helm at the back of the boat.

"We've got a pretty solid crew as far as race course analysis ... everyone on the boat is contributing," Bob Clarke said.

Another brother team took honors in the Henderson 30 class, as Scott and Chris Liebel of Sarasota led the eight-boat fleet to a 13-point margin with finishes in the top two places through six races. One of the second-place finishes was a four-second loss to Tony Dalia's Zero Gravity in Friday's 28.5-mile distance race after racing around fixed marks on Tampa Bay for more than five hours.

"We were consistent ... that's what saved us," Chris Liebel said. "During the distance race, everyone was in first or last. There were at least five lead changes."

Co-owners David German and Ed Ruark of Tampa posted one bad race in the J/24 fleet, but finishing sixth in the next-to-last race of the weekend series made the closing race a deciding contest between their Mad Cow and runner-up Mike Sudoski's Arnold.

A win in Sunday's opening race, which finished under drifting conditions with glassy bay waters and little wind, set the stage for the overall Mad Cow win.

"We tried to stay where the breeze was ... and we got lucky," Ruark said. "We just put a knot meter on the boat and it made a big difference in the light air.

"I can't tell the difference of half-a-knot of boat speed, but the knot meter was good feedback."

In the closing race, the German-Ruark crew took control at the start and finished third to edge Sudoski for overall class honors by two points.

"We went for clean air and speed at the start. That's all we tried to do," Ruark said.

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