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Young sailor breezes to victory in Regatta


© St. Petersburg Times, published October 2, 2000

Flashing a big smile and a trophy of equal proportions, Nicholas Nowlan of Clearwater was recognized as the top youth sailor at the Bruce Watters Green Fleet Optimist Regatta on Tampa Bay.

Nowlan, "almost 11," won the two opening races when sailing conditions were the most difficult on a windy Saturday, then followed up Sunday with four top two finishes to outdistance Max Duvoisin, another Clearwater Yacht Club sailor, for overall honors in the 54-boat fleet.

"I've never been in waves like this," Nowlan said of Saturday's conditions. "That's when I did my best."

The gusty northeast breezes, which reached into the mid-teens, stirred up waves on the bay and challenged the young sailors, all of whom are considered beginners in the Optimist Green Fleet. None of the boys or girls had raced for more than a year. Manycompeted in their first regatta over the Labor Day weekend in Sarasota, where Nowlan finished second.

Duvoisin won the seventh race in the 10-race series and edged Alex Helman of Tampa Yacht and Country Club by one point for second place overall.

"It was the first race I've won," Duvoisin said. "It was fun."

Unlike regattas, which are run mostly by adults, the Bruce Watters event is a youth regatta from top to bottom with older sailors running allracing activities, including the course layouts and scoring.

Teenage race official Meredith Pelton of Naples graduated from the Optimist Class but still competes for the host St. Petersburg Yacht Club in other classes.

"It was a lot of fun, definitely a learning experience getting 30 (volunteer) kids organized to run the races," Pelton said.

The event attracted youths from clubs in Naples and Sarasota and four Bay area clubs.

Patrick Kazar of St. Petersburg -- who finished 51st -- got the sportsmanship award for allowing another sailor whose boat had been damaged to borrow Kazar's boat to complete the regatta.

The next major event on Tampa Bay for all classes and age groups of Optimist sailors will be the Nov. 4-5 Sailfest Regatta, in conjunction with Sail Expo/St. Petersburg. The Allison Jolly Regatta for girl Optimist sailors will be held Oct. 14.

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