Thomas Rose's Seraphim, a Mason 53 that sails out of the Bradenton Yacht Club, was the overall winner in the 41st Regata del Sol al Sol, a 456-mile open ocean race from St. Petersburg to Isla Mujeres, Mexico.
The 29-boat fleet started in light wind April 24, but the conditions soon changed, making it one of the fastest races on record.
By midnight on the first day, the wind had picked up to 15 to 20 knots per hour. The seas picked up when the boats hit the Loop Current, and several competitors had to battle violent squalls and thunderstorms.
The slow start kept any records from being broken, but Rose's Seraphim still made the crossing in 39:34:23, corrected time, winning the Cruising Class as well as the race.
Enigma, owned by Robert Park, who died halfway through the race, was first to finish in 55:11:46, elapsed time. Dennis Vellenga's Ankle Deep won the multihull class; Roger Gatewood's Shazaam won the spinnaker class; Blaise Pierson's Midnight Sun won the nonspinnaker class.
College Sailing: USF sailors had a busy spring.
The university's team recently sailed a closely contested regional regatta against College of Charleston, Eckerd, Florida, and Florida Institute of Technology, with only the top two advancing to the National Championships in Treasure Island, Calif.
Just days before the event, freshman starter Sean Ross sprained his finger and strained a ligament, but junior Chris Keimig stepped up to the challenge, joining Mitch Hall, Steph Reynolds, Tim King, Justin Ahearn and Margaret Spears to capture second and advance to the championships.
Individual sailors also traveled to Charleston for the Coed Dinghy Championships, finishing third overall. Hall and Reynolds finished second in the A Division while King and Ahearn were fourth in the B Division.
The university also hosted a qualifying regatta for the Women's National Championships. Once again, sailing against the College of Charleston, Eckerd, Clemson, and Florida, Kim Witkowski and Christine Sayler teamed with Kristin Britt and Kirsten Hunt to take third in B Division. Rachael Silverstein and Darby Smith also sailed solidly, winning three of 10 races. The USF women were third, two points behind second-place Eckerd.
High SchoolS: The top high school sailors in the nation were in town May 8-10 for the High School National Doublehanded Championships and the coveted Mallory Trophy. The St. Petersburg Yacht Club and USF co-hosted the regatta, which featured 20 teams from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands sailing FJs and 420s.
Conditions were perfect with blue skies, temperatures in the upper 80s and winds 5-8 knots, with occasional gusts of 11-12 knots.
Newport Harbor dominated the event, which was no surprise, since the California school placed in the top three for five years in a row, winning in 2005, 2007 and now 2009. Two other California schools — Cathedral Catholic and Corona del Mar — placed second and third. Local favorite Sarasota High placed fourth, followed by Tampa Plant in fifth.
Sailor update: Washington College junior skipper Conner Blouin, a Tampa resident and Jesuit High graduate, won the program's most valuable sailor award for the 2008-09 season. Blouin, who helped the school in Chestertown, Md., qualify for the Intercollegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) Co-Ed Dinghy National Championships, held this week at the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco, won the award two years in a row.
Salty Sisters: The Florida Women's Sailing Association, comprised of ten local women's sailing groups, held its Championship Regatta May 15 at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club; the host organization walked away with several awards.
In the Sonar Class, the Salty Sister team skippered by Lori Leadbetter with crew Helen Larsen, Rosemary Sherman and Linda Meehan captured the top honor. In third-place Sonar was the Salty Sister team skippered by Nina Glover with crew Charl Hadfield, Sandra Ripberger and Gloria Davis.
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