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Slow winds don't stop Bikini Cup

After the breeze picks up on the gulf, Fetish crosses the finish line ahead of 24 other teams of women sailors.

By DORAN CUSHING

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 13, 2001


The 25 teams of women sailors in the 34th annual Bikini Cup near Clearwater Pass on Saturday discovered the wind plays no gender favorites.

A midday lull slowed the fleet to a crawl across the Gulf of Mexico midway through the second leg of the 11.4-mile course before the expected sea breeze pushed the racers to the finish line.

Starting first and finishing first was the Stiletto 27 catamaran Fetish, skippered by Anne Picozzi. Sailing in the six-boat multihull training fleet in Division B, Fetish covered the distance in just less than 3 hours, 18 minutes. A similar Stiletto, Double Cup, finished 73 seconds later for second place in the division and posted the second-fastest time for the fleet with Cindy Calvert at the helm.

The competition was closer in the non-spinnaker monohull division for all-women crews, as Jean Levine's Instant Karma edged Candy Hider's Wild Blue Yonder by 23 seconds after the Performance Handicap Racing Fleet corrected times were calculated.

In the non-spinnaker monohull training Division A, Devon Cole's Past Time beat two-time winner Desperado by almost six minutes on corrected time despite Desperado's first-to-finish position among the monohull fleet.

"It changed all over the place, from zero to 12 knots," Desperado skipper Christine Papandreas said of the wind, which started from the east and died for more than an hour before picking up from the west.

Desperado -- co-owned by Ron Augustine and Ian Smith -- is a frequent competitor in the region, but Papandreas' usual role is as crew.

"It's the only time all year I get to drive," Papandreas said of the Bikini Cup.

Regatta co-chair Ellen Henderson of the host Windjammers of Clearwater said the Bikini Cup is one of the few remaining sailing events in the state that target women as competitors.

"One, it's to entice women to sailing and racing," Henderson said. "It's also an opportunity for the more experienced women to race in an all-women scenario."

The format allowed men to be onboard in the training division as coaches but they couldn't help with any sailing duties.

Finishing third in the multihull Division B was Marie Povey, taking the helm in her first race.

"I was very nervous (about the start of the race)," Povey said. "Being able to do this kind of racing lets me get to know my boat. It definitely builds the confidence. I'll be back next year."

Other winners included Tempa Diaz's Tiger Lilly in multihull Division A and Paula Shur's Tantrum 2 in the non-spinnaker monohull training Division B. Dotty Wolski's Zip Drive was the lone non-spinnaker monohull boat competing in the "Man on board" division, a separate division from the training classes in which a man was allowed on the boat but wasn't allowed to coach or help in any way.

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