St. Petersburg Sailor Falls Final Four vote
Who is the greatest American sailor? St. Petersburg's Ed Baird, a past winner of the America's Cup as a helmsman and as a coach, recently made it to the final four of an online contest sponsored by U.S. Sailing to determine the United States' best sailor. Baird, who got his start at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, lost to Dennis Conner in the semifinals. Not too shabby, considering Conner has four Cup wins, an Olympic medal and three yachtsman of the year awards.
The contest, which ends Monday at 11:59 p.m., started with 64 sailors, a format similar to the old NCAA basketball tournament. There were four divisions, and sailors were seeded 1 through 16 in each. In addition to Baird and Conner, the list of living legends included Clearwater's Paige and Zach Railey, St. Petersburg's Mark Mendelblatt, USF women's sailing coach Allison Jolly, Buddy Melges, and Anna Tunnicliffe.
Sailing fans can cast a vote and receive a chance to win a grand prize that includes the ultimate America's Cup experience next month in San Francisco. In the finals, Conner will face Melges, who won the 1972 Olympic gold medal in Soling. Vote at ussailingentry.com.
Season stimulates large reptiles
It's hot and humid, the kind of weather that puts alligators on the move. These cold-blooded reptiles love the summer, when they can fatten up on fish, turtles, ducks and more.
Florida is home to two native crocodilian species: the American alligator, which is found in every county in the state, and the American crocodile, which is confined to the coastal areas of southeast and southwest Florida. Both reptiles can be dangerous, so anglers and boaters should give them a wide berth.
Alligators typically grab prey in the water, or within a yard or two of the water's edge. In two-thirds of the attacks on humans, the victim never sees the gator coming. In most cases, the gator strikes from beneath. Most attacks occur in residential areas — canals, lakes, golf course ponds — where the reptiles have grown accustomed to seeing humans. The best advice to avoid becoming a statistic is to stay out of freshwater at dawn, dusk and at night, when gators are most active.
If you encounter an alligator that poses a threat to you, your pets or property, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's nuisance alligator hotline toll-free at 1-866-392-4286. To learn more, go to MyFWC.com/alligator.
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