Sailing| Terry Tomalin

Sailing: Cup champ Baird uninjured after capsizing

Circuit champs: Jeff Linton, Will Jeffers and Amy Smith Linton sailed through to the Southern Lightning Circuit overall title.

Courtesy of Trisha Birkenstock

Circuit champs: Jeff Linton, Will Jeffers and Amy Smith Linton sailed through to the Southern Lightning Circuit overall title.

America's Cup champion and St. Petersburg native Ed Baird is safe after capsizing last week in a trimaran off the coast of France.

On March 29, in 20-plus-knot winds and a heavy Atlantic swell, the 60-foot boat Foncia capsized off Lorient with sailors from the victorious Swiss team Alinghi aboard.

Of the 10 crew onboard, Piet van Niekerk and Francesco Rapetti were airlifted to a local hospital but were not seriously hurt and later released. The other crew members, along with consultant Alain Gautier, secured the boat and helped tow it ashore.

"As we were bearing away, always the highest risk situation on a multi-

hull, both the leeward and the central hull dug into the water and the rudders came out. From then it was out of our hands and we capsized forwards," Baird said. "As the mast hit the water, it broke, followed by the rear beam. …"

"We have all been through crashes and capsizes before, this is all part of the sport," Baird added. "However this is a temporary situation with Foncia and is not our equipment, so it is even more disappointing to us that we are involved in damaging someone else's gear. We have learned a valuable lesson here and now must get to work to fix things up for Alain."

Rolex Women's Match: Some of the world's top female sailors will be in town this month when the St. Petersburg Yacht Club hosts the Rolex Women's Match, an International Sailing Federation (ISAF) match-racing regatta.

Scheduled for April 10-13 on the waters off the Pier, this 7-year-old event will see a change in format as the competition moves solely to round-robin match racing.

Skippers who will be competing include Corey Hall and Rachael Silverstein of St. Petersburg, Louise Bienvenu of Metarie, La., JoAnn Fisher of Annapolis, Md., Sandy Hayes of Scituate, Mass., Liz Hjorth of Marina del Rey, Calif., Lauren Knoles of East Lansing, Mich., Katy Lovell of New Orleans, Sue McDowell of Bay Village, Ohio, and Rossana Ramos of Brazil.

"With the increased interest in women's match racing around the world, specifically for inclusion at the 2012 Olympic Games, we felt our initial mission of getting more women sailors into match racing has been accomplished," said Pat Seidenspinner, the co-chair of the event with Tom Farquhar. "Now our focus is to run as many matches as we can over the four days. Additionally, we will be giving prospective match-racing umpires an opportunity to hone their skills and knowledge when we host an umpires seminar immediately prior to the Rolex Women's Match."

The winner and runnerup here get an automatic invitation to compete in the Rolex Osprey Cup, an ISAF Grade 1 match-racing event scheduled for October at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club. For more information go to www.rolex

womensmatch.org.

Laser Radial Worlds: Three world titles — men's, youth male and youth female — were up for grabs last month at the Takapuna World Championships in New Zealand, and three local sailors delivered impressive performances.

Clearwater's Emily Billing finished 13th in a 38-boat fleet in the youth female division, St. Petersburg's John Wallace was 14th in an 85-boat youth male fleet and Clearwater Central Catholic and Old Dominion graduate Brad Funk finished second in the men's division.

Early in March, Clearwater's Paige Railey placed 13th in the women's division of the same event. Railey's brother, U.S. Olympic team representative Zach Railey, finished third in a 45-boat Finn fleet at the Princess Sofia Trophy in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

Lightnings and Flying Scots: Also last month, for the 61st consecutive year, the St. Petersburg Yacht Club hosted the Winter Lightning Championship. It was the final venue of the Lightning Class Southern Circuit, which began in Savannah, Ga.

The sailors had light rain and light wind on opening day, but on Day 2, a 15- to 18-knot southeast wind allowed three races in ideal conditions. Competition concluded on Day 4 with a 4- to 8-knot breeze.

At the annual Lightning banquet, the yacht club's Don Gregory presented George Fisher of Columbus, Ohio, the Karl Smither trophy, which goes to the distinguished Lightning sailor who is a Corinthian yachtsman, Lightning enthusiast and class mentor.

After the final races, titles went to went to Brian Hayes of Milford (Conn.) Yacht Club and his crew Jay Mueller and Laura Jeffers of St. Petersburg Yacht Club. The Masters Championship trophy was awarded to Richard Hallagan of Newport (N.Y.) Yacht Club.

The Lightning Southern Circuit Champion trophy went to 2008 Yachtsman of the Year Jeff Linton of Davis Island Yacht Club and his crew Amy Smith Linton and Will Jeffers of St. Petersburg Yacht Club.

A new trophy, in memory of the late Colin Park, went to the highest placing husband and wife team. Karen Park presented the award to Allan and Katie Terhune of Eastport Yacht Club in Annapolis, Md.

New Orleans residents Marc and Marcus Eagan won last week's Flying Scot Midwinters hosted by SPYC on Tampa Bay. Tampa's Mark Taylor and Andy Hayward placed fifth, with another local team, Chip Merlin and Donnie Brennan of Tampa, in 12th.

Rainbow Regatta: The Florida Women's Sailing Association held its 25th Rainbow Regatta on March 25 at Boca Ciega Yacht Club. Eighty women sailors from 10 local yacht clubs and sailing centers competed.

Ursula Olson of the Sarasota Sailing Squadron won the Sunfish class and the Master Sunfish title.

In the International One Design class, the St. Petersburg Yacht Club's Jan Davisson, Barbara Arnold, Sally McCarthy and Alison Hardage took top honors. The SPYC's Kathy Mansir won the master's title.

In the Clearwater Pram class, the Dunedin Sailing Center's Lisa Conlon, Susan Lucas, Cathy Szelistowski and Denise Bissonnette finished in front. The Pram Master winner was Robin Babka of the Dunedin Sailing Center.

Anyone can sail: Tom Hallock, who teaches literature and Florida Studies at the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg, is a big fan of his school's sailing team. Hallock, who spends more time in the woods retracing the footsteps of noted naturalist William Bartram than he does on the water, wanted to learn to sail. So the professor gathered nine members of his nature writing class during spring break and set out for Cabbage Key. Hallock, who earned the nickname "Ahab" from his students, ran into the full force of a late-winter cold front.

The adventurers had to spend the first night in the wilds of the Holiday Inn Sun Spree resort, but then sailed out to Egmont Key and anchored in the Manatee River.

Hallock, who produced a wavy GPS track to prove that he actually took the helm under the Sunshine Skyway, credits the expedition's success to USF's waterfront master Zach Oppenheim, who planned the logistics.

"On a scale of 1 to 10, for me, the trip was an 11," Hallock said.

Sailors Wharf Anniversary: Some lucky soul will win a free bottom job (for their boat) Saturday when Sailors Wharf in St. Petersburg celebrates 30 years of service to the sailing community.

The marine facility, located in the Salt Creek Marine District just south of downtown on Bayboro Harbor, will host a nautical flea market from 9 a.m. to noon. Seminars start at 10 a.m. For a complete listing, go to www.sailorswharf.com.

Have sailing? To submit information, go to community.tampabay.com and click on the "Submit info here" link. Terry Tomalin can be reached at (727) 893-8808 or e-mail tomalin@sptimes.com.

>>fast facts

Sailing calendar

Today-Sunday: Suncoast Race Week

April 10-13: Rolex Women's Match Race, SPYC

April 18-19: 23rd annual Morgan Invasion, TIYTC

April 22-23: U.S. Sailing Alter Cup Multihull Championship, Gulfport Yacht Club.

April 25-30: Regatta del Sol at Sol (Mexico race), SPYC

April 26-27: J-24 Rodeo, Davis Island Yacht Club

SPYC: St. Peterburg Yacht Club

TIYTC: Treasure Island Yacht and Tennis Club

Sailing: Cup champ Baird uninjured after capsizing 04/03/08 [Last modified: Thursday, April 3, 2008 6:00am]

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