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Lineberger successful on and off the water


© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 29, 2001

Ian Lineberger is somewhat of an anomaly on the local sailing scene.

With so many of his contemporaries having grown up racing Optimist dinghies before they became teenagers, Lineberger didn't get into racing small sailboats until he was in his 30s.

Sixteen years later, the St. Petersburg sailor was elected president of the International Laser Class Association just days before finishing second overall in the Laser Masters World Championships.

"I started racing when I turned 30," Lineberger said, "and I just loved it."

Competing in the division for sailors 45-55, Lineberger won the closing race and finished in the top five in five out of the nine events. A disqualification in the series' first race for being across the starting line early, OCS in racing terms, could have ruined his effort. But Lineberger didn't let it diminish the overall results in a 70-boat fleet.

"I had to be more conservative after the OCS, but I just stayed with the flow," he said. "My best legs were downwind when I had one more gear. I got that from training with Brett Davis and Mark Mendelblatt.

Davis and Mendelblatt, both from the Tampa Bay area, are among the top-rated U.S. Laser sailors. The world championship was sailed Aug. 10-18 in Cork, Ireland, in a mix of weather conditions. The regatta ended prematurely due to high winds.

"It was cold. It was blowing. It was raining Irish weather," Lineberger said.

Prior to being selected as president of a rapidly growing worldwide Laser class, now an Olympic division with more than 15,000 member sailors around the globe, Lineberger was president of the North American class association. He will continue in that role until a replacement is found.

"I'm wearing two hats for now," Lineberger said. "It's a way to give something back to the class." Lineberger gave credit to fellow competitor Tim Landt of Tierra Verde, who finished 22nd. "Tim arranged for a coaching and support boat. That was huge," Lineberger said. "It allowed us to save an enormous amount of energy getting in and out from the race courses."

Lineberger will be taking his 14-foot Laser dinghy to the North American Championships in Hyannis, Mass., in mid September.

SUCCESS IN CANADA: Teenage sailor Zach Railey of Clearwater finished fifth overall in the Sail Kingston 2001 Laser Gold Fleet, competing against more than 60 racers from the U.S. and Canada on Aug. 16-17 in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. At the same venue, Charles Fulmer of Seminole placed eighth in the 50-boat Laser Radial Class. Clearwater's Paige Railey took 10th and was the top female sailor. Her sister, Brooke, was 32nd.

LIGHTNING CLASS: Following in the footsteps of Tampa sailor Jeff Linton, who recently won the world championships in the class, Orlando's Steve Hayden was the winning skipper in the North American Championships in Burlington, Vt.

Hayden is a member of Lightning Fleet 502, based at Davis Island Yacht Club in Tampa.

Ethan Bixby and Hans Birkholz of St. Petersburg finished fourth in the 505 Class North America Championships, Aug. 8-12 in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

REGATTA UPDATES: The Tampa Bay fall season opens Friday with Davis Island Yacht Club's Night Race, from Tampa to Pass-A-Grille.

The overnight distance event takes the fleet south across Hillsborough Bay and Tampa Bay before turning north after passing southwest of Egmont Key and finishing near Blind Pass.

For information, call (813) 251-1158 or go on-line to

The youth schedule starts Sept. 15-16 with the Bruce Neubauer Optimist Regatta, hosted by Treasure Island Tennis & Yacht Club on Boca Ciega Bay. For details, call (727) 367-4511.

Girls 8-15 who sail Optimist prams are invited to compete in the second annual Allison Jolly Regatta, Sept. 29 at the St. Petersburg Sailing Center.

The one-day event is sponsored by the Salty Sisters, the women's sailing organization of the St. Petersburg Yacht Club. The event will include competition in the Red, Blue, White and Green fleets.

The competition is designed to encourage girls to participate in the sport, as well as to honor 1988 Olympic gold medalist Allison Jolly, who learned to sail in St. Petersburg.

For registration information, call (727) 822-3873.

PLAN AHEAD: Registration packets are available for the 2002 Key West Race Week, Jan. 21-25 in the waters south of the southernmost U.S. city. In the absence of a title sponsor, event director Peter Craig has announced that entry fees for the world-renown five-day venue will increase by 35 percent.

For the smaller boats, that means a fee around $600. The larger boats, over 40 feet, will pay up to $975, plus rating and advertising fees.

Also new for 2002 is the addition of a multihull one-design fleet of Corsair F-28R trimarans. For information, go on-line to or call (781) 639-9545. The entry deadline is Dec. 12.

NAVIGATION CLASS: The Windjammers of the Clearwater Sailing Club will offer a free basic celestial navigation class beginning Sept. 13 at the Clearwater Community Sailing Center, located just south of the Clearwater Pass Bridge on Sand Key. Call Lewis Lederer, (727) 531-6173.

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