Junior sailors from across the state gathered at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club last month for the Bruce Watters Green Fleet Regatta.
Designed especially for youngsters in their first year of sailboat racing, the event offers beginners the opportunity to be the star of the show.
The SPYC's own Martin Hood emerged from a field of 33 to win the overall title. The club's juniors clinched five of the top-10 spots, including Alexa Lynch (fourth), Silvia Hopkins (fifth), Nevin Avila (sixth) and Kurban Ali (10th).
Also in September, the South's best high school sailors gathered in Clearwater for the South Atlantic Regional qualifier for the Singlehanded National Championships at Cornell University on Oct. 17-19.
Lakewood High's Mateo Vargas finished second overall and qualified for the high school national championship for the third year in a row. Vargas finished second at last year's event.
At the Treasure Island Tennis and Yacht Club's Bruce Neubauer Opti Regatta on Sept. 21, SPYC sailor Lynch took home the green fleet title. She was followed closely by Hood in second place. In the Opti division, Liam McCarthy finished sixth overall and was second in the blue fleet for sailors aged 11-12.
Windmill Nationals: Ethan Bixby, Arthur Anosov and Dr. John Jennings traveled to the 2008 Windmill Class Association National Championship on Lake Winnipesaukee in Gilford, N.H., this summer.
The Windmill, a 15½-foot racing dinghy, was designed by Clearwater's Clark Mills. Mills, who died in 2001 at age 86, is best known as the father of the Optimist Pram, the boat in which thousands of youngsters got their starts.
After his success with the Optimist in 1947, Mills saw a need for a two-person dinghy that was inexpensive and easy to build. Six years later, Mills unveiled the Windmill.
A total of 33 boats competed in six races with St. Petersburg's Bixby, taking three firsts, a third, a fifth and an eighth, capturing the title. Tampa resident Asonov was second, and St. Petersburg's Jennings, the 1961 Windmill national champion, finished third, giving Florida a sweep.
The Windmill class also honored Dave Ellis, former St. Petersburg Times sailing correspondent. Ellis, who served as the regatta coordinator and sailing master for both the St. Petersburg Yacht Club and the St. Petersburg Sailing Center, was made an "honorary lifetime member" of the Windmill class.
CORK Regatta: Several local sailors also traveled to Kingston, Ontario, for the CORK regatta, the largest in North America, held at the sailing venue for the 1976 Olympic Games.
Olympic gold medalist (Seoul, 1980) Allison Jolly, now the USF sailing coach, won 12 of the 14 races in the 470 class. Bixby was the top North American at the Contender Class World Championships, placing seventh overall, and Lin Robsen placed a close second in the Flying Dutchman North Americans.
Colleges: USF sailors maintained their national ranking in the latest Sailing World list released last month. The coed team is currently ranked 10th in the country, while the women's varsity team is ranked 12th.
Just a few weeks into the fall season, USF has already traveled to Yale, Dartmouth, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, College of Charleston and King's Point, N.Y. Returning skippers Mitch Hall (junior) and All-American Tim King (senior) are sailing with new crews, Hillary Noble (junior) and Simon Sanders (junior), respectively. Zack Marks has been sailing the single-handed events. On the women's side, Rachael Silverstein, Kristin Britt and Kim Witkowski have been helming with a variety of crews.
Freshmen Britton Steele (Annapolis) and Sean Ross (Tabor Academy) have been sailing well in the South Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association South Points regattas and will compete in the Atlantic Coast Freshman Intersectional in November. They will team with freshmen crews Margaret Spears, Julia Francoeur and Tristen Vail.
Eckerd College has most of its starting sailors returning. Seniors Arthur Blodgett, Andrew Keane and A.J. Jacobs will join freshmen Alex Steele and Kaye Seimers, who finished second in U.S. Sailing's Bemis Doublehanded Junior Championships this summer.
Eckerd has started strong this year with top finishes in events at both Yale and King's Point. The team is currently ranked 17th in the nation.
Eckerd has new coaches: Robby Brown, a collegiate All-American who had top finishes at the J24 Midwinters and the 2008 St. Petersburg NOOD Regatta, and Josh Putnam, who sailed with Brown at last year's Thistle Nationals.