By DORAN CUSHING
© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 10, 2001
Despite some early glitches by the race committee, the largest fleet for the Epilepsy Foundation Transbay Cup found ideal conditions for the summer race across Tampa Bay from St. Petersburg to Apollo Beach.
Forty-one boats in eight divisions were treated to a building sea breeze reaching into the teens after the mid-afternoon start. The charity race was delayed briefly when the race committee posted an incorrect course and the boats had to be notified of the new course instructions. A crowded, short starting line also generated more than the usual amount of hollering as the 27 spinnaker class boats battled for position seconds before the starting gun.
Escaping the melee and finishing first overall was the Viper 830 Racer X, skippered by Robert Wetmore of St. Petersburg. Sailing a borrowed boat with a crew of Davis Island Yacht Club sailors, Wetmore's team captured top honors in Spinnaker A as well as overall spinnaker class honors.
"It was a short line, and the pin end was definitely favored," Wetmore said about the start. "The conditions were perfect for the Viper. With the building breeze, we were able to pull away."
Finishing second to Racer X and second overall was Allen Thomas' J/120 Solar Express with Frank McCarthy's Melges 24 Gang of Four finishing third among the spinnaker boats.
Darin O'Neal's Catalina 22 Lagniappe posted the best corrected time in the nine-boat non-spinnaker fleet and Dick Ware's Cal 25 Moondancer finished second overall. Richard Neal's Back Off took honors in non-spinnaker G, finishing third overall.
Other division winners: Paul Silvernail's no-name Lindenberg 28 in Spinnaker B, Bruce Kerns' Ranger 30 Impulse in Spinnaker C, Jamey Rabbitt's C&C 27 Windancer in Spinnaker D and Bud Marafiote's Sabre Dance in the three-boat True Cruising Class. Bob Jones' MacGregor 36 catamaran was the lone entry in the multihull division.
Neal, who served triple duty as race official, event organizer and competitor, said: "There was great wind, and everybody was happy. We raised a minimum of $75 per boat, and there were 41 boats."
The annual event raises money for Epilepsy Services Foundation of Tampa and Suncoast Epilepsy Foundation in St. Petersburg. According to executive director Tom Orth, donations from entry fees, raffle and dinner tickets will help send 20 children with epilepsy to Boggy Creek Camp.