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Sailing center is preparing for world event

By DORAN CUSHING

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 12, 2001


The World Disabled Sailing Championships will be coming to Tampa Bay for the first time in late October.

The World Disabled Sailing Championships will be coming to Tampa Bay for the first time in late October.

The event will be hosted by the St. Petersburg Yacht Club at the St. Petersburg Sailing Center on Demens Landing.

In preparation for the international event, which is expected to bring hundreds of sailors from 25 countries, the downtown sailing center is undergoing a major revamping of its waterside facilities.

Construction has begun with the removal of the existing wooden floating docks, which handled the smaller dinghies for the high school and collegiate teams. The main docks, which formed a T-shaped floating aluminum harborage running to the south from the two-story center building, also will be replaced. Support and funding for the improvements is coming from the City of St. Petersburg's Committee to Advocate for Persons with Impairments (CAPI).

When completed, the facility will have improved handicap parking areas landside in addition to the upgrades and expansion of the floating docks. The plans include the addition of a third boat lift for launching and retrieving boats on the eastern end of the docks.

The improvements are scheduled to be completed in mid October. The world championship is scheduled for Oct. 24-31.

OLYMPIC AMBITIONS: Robbie Daniel of Clearwater knows full well what it takes to mount an Olympic sailing campaign.

Despite the disappointments of two previous efforts to qualify for the 1996 and 2000 U.S. Olympic team, Daniel has launched an effort to represent the United States in the revamped Tornado Class in the 2004 Games in Athens, Greece.

Daniel has a new partner, Eric Jacobsen, and Jill Nickerson will continue as the landside manager of the Suncoast Sailing Campaign.

A combination of crew changes and some bad luck dropped Daniel out of contention during the last Olympic Trials despite having been the top-rated U.S. Tornado sailor entering the event.

Daniel's privately-funded campaign -- supported then and now by local clubs, individuals and his own credit card limits -- continues to struggle to finance the international travel mandated by U.S. Sailing, the national authority that governs the team selection process.

Nickerson said the team had decided not to travel to the European championships in mid August when pressure from U.S. Sailing forced a last-minute change in the summer training plans.

With not enough time to ship his boat to Europe, Daniel was able to purchase a new one in Sweden just before the European regatta in Silvaplanna, Switzerland. His team suffered several major on-the-water hardware failures late in the event but managed to finish ninth, one place ahead of the defending U.S. Olympic team.

"All in all, we felt really good about the results, Nickerson said. "The guys have a lot of work to do when they get back to the states to make adjustments in setup and continue learning the new sail plan as this fleet will only get faster."

The International Olympic Committee and the International Tornado Class decided after the Sydney Games in 2000 to add more powerful sails to the standard Tornado design.

Those changes included a larger main sail and the addition of a spinnaker. The two-person Tornado, by far the quickest of the Olympic classes, is the only multihull boat in the Olympic venue.

BOAT OF YEAR SERIES RULES: Avoiding some of the confusion that seemed to dog the West Florida PHRF boat of the year series last season, organizers have published the events and rules that will determine the BOTY winners next spring.

All boats that compete during the fall regattas in 2001 automatically will be scored for year-end honors. Registration by each boat owner isn't required, and there's no entry fee.

The series will consist of seven regattas, with each race in each event scored toward the total points.

The Nov. 10 Egmont Key distance race will count as double points, but competitors who elect not to sail can use the race as a single throwout at the end of the series. If the seven-regatta series is completed as scheduled, there likely will be 13 races scored with the provision for the four worst scores to be thrown out.

The series opens Sept. 29-30 with the Bradenton Yacht Club's Kickoff Regatta, followed by the Clearwater Yacht Club's Clearwater Challenge, Oct. 27-28. After the Egmont event, the St. Petersburg Yacht Club's Fall Regatta on Dec. 15 will close out 2001. The 2002 season opens with Pass-A-Grille Yacht Club hosting the Anchor Cup on Feb. 23, followed by Treasure Island Tennis & Yacht Club's Michelob Cup on March 16 and Suncoast Raceweek on April 5-7.

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