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Bum economy sinks St. Pete's 'Yacht Bowl'

Just two weeks ago, plans were in motion for the "Super Yacht Bowl," a four-day yacht hop and cocktail party from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2 at Vinoy Marina, St. Petersburg Municipal Marina and Port St. Pete.

Hate to say it, but that ship has sailed. The Super Yacht Bowl is no more.

"We didn't get the number of yachts signing up as early as we thought we would," said Jeff Werner, marina captain for event organizer Blue Highway LLC.

Organizers were looking to have about 30 yachts signed up to rent slips at local marinas by the end of September. By Oct. 10, they had only six.

Blame the mercurial nature of the Dow, which has keel-hauled luxury boat owners' stock portfolios.

"Yachts are toys. And they're something that, when the economy goes bad, they don't get used," Werner said. "Some of the owners of megayachts and superyachts, even though they're very, very wealthy, may cut back on some of the use of their yacht, because it's very costly to operate."

It didn't help that last month, the NFL abruptly cancelled its huge Saturday Night Spectacular, planned for Vinoy Waterfront Park the night before the game. Some of the crowds and sponsors that Blue Highway was counting on pulled their support for the Super Yacht Bowl, Werner said.

"We've done a great job promoting it, but we haven't had that bigger response," said event promoter Les Abberly. "I think a lot of people are just distracted by everything going on."

What to make of the cancellation? Abberly said he still thinks some yacht owners will dock in Tampa Bay for the big game, but large-scale yacht parties like this one, planned well in advance, might suffer. "People are probably going to make last-minute decisions with their time and money, and how to spend it wisely."

Werner and Abberly said they'll refer further inquiries to individual marina owners and local hotels. If you want to see what Super Yacht Bowl would have looked like, check out superyachtbowl.com.

A fest for exotic car fans

If you're a fan of the annual Festivals of Speed event in downtown St. Petersburg, showcasing glitzy Rolls-Royces, Bentleys, Ducatis, Lambos, Maseratis and more, watch out for a similar party Jan. 31.

Festivals of Speed's Joe Sabatini says he's been in contact with several celebs about hosting, but he really wants this to be a party for all the Tampa Bay fans who normally come to his shows.

"It's not going to be one of these ridiculously priced $1,500-a-ticket Super Bowl parties, where you go to it and half the celebrities they say are going to be there aren't there," Sabatini said. "We want the kind of people we always get at these events."

Sabatini says he'll have a location and ticket info settled within the next two weeks. Check festivalsofspeed.com for updates.

More party tidbits

• Want to attend a Super Bowl party for just $20? Buy a ticket to the annual Super Bowl Breakfast, scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 31 at the USF Sun Dome. Guests include Tony Dungy, Anthony Munoz, Derrick Brooks and Bart Starr, who will present the Athletes in Action Bart Starr Award to a current NFL player. Tickets are only $20, and include a box breakfast. They'll go on sale soon, say event reps, so check Ticketmaster.com for updates.

• Mise en Place will host the first Taste of the NFL Cookbook brunch this Sunday, Oct. 19, with proceeds benefiting America's Second Harvest of Tampa Bay. The brunch will be hosted by former Buc and current radio host Scot Brantley, and restaurant proprietors Marty Blitz and Maryann Ferenc, and it will offer a sneak peek at the new cookbook (to which Mise en Place contributed). The brunch takes place at 11:30 a.m. and costs $50 per person. 442 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, (813) 254-5373.

• We've got conflict: Star Brooklyn DJ Mick Boogie boasts on his Web site that he's been hired to perform at a private Nike Super Bowl Party on Jan. 30. Folks at Nike say they they've worked with Boogie in the past, but haven't confirmed any party details (such as a location) just yet.

— Jay Cridlin

Got a tip about a hot Super Bowl event? Drop us a line at tbteditors@tampabay.com.

Bum economy sinks St. Pete's 'Yacht Bowl' 10/16/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 23, 2008 3:19pm]

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