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Youth, 11, eyes world title

Optimist sailor Mitch Hall will compete this summer in Spain.

By DORAN CUSHING

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 24, 2000


Clearwater's Mitch Hall added another highlight to his rapidly growing sailing resume as the 11-year-old qualified for the Optimist world championships later this summer in Spain.

Hall earned the prestigious berth by finishing fourth at the U.S. Optimist team trials May 12-14. Only the top five sailors earned the right to compete at the world championships.

The three-day event, which also selected the youths who will compete at the European Optimist championships in Italy, was hosted by Little Egg Harbor Yacht Club in Beach Haven, N.J.

St. Petersburg Yacht Club sailor Cullen Shaughnessey finished eighth overall and joins Davis Island Yacht Club sailors Evan Brown, Caroline Young and Stephen Young on the American team at the European championships.

Racing in a fleet mixed with adults and juniors, Charles Fulmer of Clearwater Yacht Club took top overall honors and the junior title in the Laser Radial Class at the Laser East Coast Championships May 13-14 at Wrightsville Beach, N.C. Ryan Shaughnessey of St. Petersburg Yacht Club finished seventh overall in the same class and Robyn Rey of Clearwater Yacht Club was the top Laser Radial female, finishing eighth overall.

Zach Railey of St. Petersburg Yacht Club took the third overall spot in the Laser Class, with Clearwater's Mike Hall finishing seventh. Railey also was the second-place junior sailor in the class.

The two-day event was sailed in the Atlantic Ocean and hosted by the Carolina Yacht Club. More than 80 boats competed.

SAILORS BOUND FOR CUBA: Despite the U.S. Treasury's actions against Havana Cup regatta organizers, upwards of 100 boats may be sailing to Cuba during the Memorial Day weekend, many leaving from Tampa Bay Thursday and Friday.

Cuban officials have offered "fully hosted" status, meaning no fees will be charged to any boats arriving during the week scheduled for the Havana Cup regatta.

A letter from Treasury official R. Richard Newcomb to U.S. Rep. Dan Miller, R-Bradenton, indicated the April 28 cease-and-desist order against Havana Cup organizers did not apply to individuals traveling to Cuba as long as the sailors complied with Treasury regulations, which generally prohibit Americans from spending money in Cuba.

ECKERD SAILORS TO NATIONALS: Eckerd College has qualified teams in three divisions for the upcoming Inter-Collegiate Yacht Racing Association (ICYRA) North American championships to be held at King's Point, N.Y., and St. Mary's College, Md.

The women's team will sail against 17 other double-handed teams at St. Mary's College May 28-30, followed by the team championships May 31-June 2 with a dozen three-person teams racing at the same location. Eckerd's co-ed team will be among 18 double-handed teams competing at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at King's Point June 5-7.

LEARN TO RACE: Members of J/24 Fleet 86 are offering a learn-to-race program with three sessions of on-the-water crew training over three consecutive Saturdays in June, July and August. J/24 keelboats will be provided for the participants. For more information, contact Kingsley Purton at (813) 662-5058.

MENDELBLATT ON HONOR ROLL: Despite his disappointing second-place finish at the winner-takes-all Olympic trials in the Laser Class, St. Petersburg's Mark Mendelblatt continues to be noticed in national and international circles.

In the June issue of Sailing World, noted sailor and media commentator Gary Jobson cited Mendelblatt on his "new blood" list of sailors to watch in future America's Cup action. Mendelblatt was joined by Olympian Paul Foerster and sportboat champion Harry Melges as Jobson's picks for a team to return the America's Cup to the United States.

Conspicuously missing from Jobson's list was Ed Baird, the St. Petersburg sailor who skippered the Young America campaign in the most recent America's Cup and is a former Rolex Yachtsman of the Year. Baird and Mendelblatt will be competing against each other at the Soling Olympic trials that begin June 3 in California.

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