Local sailor wins NOOD Regatta
Nearly 1,000 sailors from the United States and Canada hit the waters of Tampa Bay for the season opener of the 2011 National Offshore One-Design Regatta series Feb. 18-20. After clawing his way to victory in the J/24 boat class, the largest fleet with 20 boats, the St. Petersburg Yacht Club's youth sailing coach, Todd Fedyszyn, was named the overall winner. Fedyszyn, who has had great success building a team of nationally ranked youth sailors, finished the weekend regatta with 18 points, nudging out former North American champion Mike Ingham, who finished with 20 points (the lower number of points, the better the actual score). As the overall winner, Fedyszyn is invited to participate in the NOOD Regatta Championships in November in the British Virgin Islands, where he will compete aboard Sunsail 39s against the overall winners from each of the other seven stops in the series.
WaterTribe expects record fleet
Head out to Fort De Soto's East Beach on Saturday morning to cheer on more than 100 extreme paddlers and sailors as they set off on a 300-mile adventure to the Florida Keys. The WaterTribe Challenge, now in its 11th year, is considered the ultimate test in paddling skills. The competitors, who will be racing in everything from sea kayaks to ocean-going canoes, must be completely self-supported. Most will take a week to reach the finish line in Key Largo, but if the wind blows hard out of the north, some of the more determined souls will make it in a matter of days. Race organizers put a high emphasis on safety and require entrants to carry some sort of an emergency signaling device such as the SPOT GPS Satellite Messenger (at left), which allows friends and family to follow the participants' progress online (www.findmespot.com). To learn more, go to WaterTribe.com.
Sound off on snapper
Do you want to catch more red snapper? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is seeking public comment on red snapper quotas in the Gulf of Mexico. Snapper seem to be doing better, and federal officials are considering letting recreational anglers catch more fish, which will mean a longer season. To comment electronically, go to www.regulations.gov. Enter the following docket number into the "Search" box: NOAA-NMFS-2011-0018.
Mel would have been proud
Last month's first CapMel Trout & Redfish Classic drew more than 150 anglers to honor the late local radio show host Mel Berman. St. Petersburg's Marty Meakin won the kayak division with 24½-inch trout. Other winning paddling anglers included Seminole's Ricky Turner for the longest redfish (30 inches) and Clearwater's Craig Beach with the longest combined total for a trout and a red (44½ inches).
Vote for the best fishing town
Florida may be the No. 1 fishing state in the country, but what is the No. 1 fishing town in Florida? If you think you have the answer, the World Fishing Network wants to know. The wining community will receive $25,000 that can be used toward some fishing-related effort, such as buying rods and reels for future anglers. Florida has about a dozen great candidates: Key West, Islamorada, Miami, Palm Beach, Jupiter, Naples, Boca Grande, Sarasota, Destin, Pensacola, St. Petersburg? Cast your vote at WFNfishingtown.com.
Vibram's Five Fingers water shoes are the favorite footwear of paddlers, boaters and anglers, but the new "super-soled" Bikila LS ($100 at Bill Jackson Shop for Adventure) will be a hit with runners as well.
Ask the experts
Question: I'm planning a trip to north Florida for vacation with my wife, and 11- and 12-year-old daughters this summer. We would like to do a couple of overnight kayaking or canoeing excursions. Are there outfitters who will rent the boats, gear and offer a pick-up service at the end?
Kevin Gallagher, New Port Richey
Answer, from Outdoors Editor Terry Tomalin: The Suwannee River Wilderness Trail, with its river camps spaced a day's paddle apart, is ideal for families with small children. Go to www.floridastateparks.org/wilderness. A list of paddling trails and some camping information can be found on the Florida Designated Paddling Trails page from the state's Department of Environmental Protection at dep.state.fl.us/gwt/guide/paddle.htm.
Got a question pertaining to one of Florida's outdoors pursuits? E-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org and put Q&A in the subject field. We'll try to find an expert to provide an answer.