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Sailing: Marylander wins Thistle Midwinters

The champ: St. Petersburg’s Mateo Vargas won the Kona Longboard North American windsurfing championship, also known as the Calema Midwinters, at Merritt Island on March 4-7. Vargas, one of the top youth sailors in the bay area, also is an accomplished Laser competitor.

RENEE ATHEY | Special to the Times

The champ: St. Petersburg’s Mateo Vargas won the Kona Longboard North American windsurfing championship, also known as the Calema Midwinters, at Merritt Island on March 4-7. Vargas, one of the top youth sailors in the bay area, also is an accomplished Laser competitor.

ST. PETERSBURG — Last month, for the 55th straight year, the St. Petersburg Yacht Club hosted the Thistle Midwinters Regatta. This year's event drew 129 sailors from all across the United States.

Competition was tight with five different boats winning a race during the course of the week. Greg Fisher of Annapolis, Md., with crew Joanne Fisher and Jeff Eiber emerged the victors with Jim Barnash, Nick Moreau and Cody McCoun of Rochester, N.Y., finishing second.

Star News: Former SPYC junior sailor Rick Merriman won the Star Class at the Bacardi Miami Sailing Week in March. Merriman and crew Phil Trinter moved to the top spot with a strong performance on the last day of the regatta, which saw five boats snap their masts in 24-knot winds.

Michelob Cup: Twenty-five knot winds made for challenging sailing in this year's Michelob Cup on March 13. David German's Mad Cow 2 of Davis Island Yacht Club took overall Spinnaker A honors. The Tampa club also won the Spinnaker B division with Terry Grimsdale's Renegade finishing just behind Mad Cow 2 on corrected time.

The St. Petersburg Sailing Association claimed a victory in Spinnaker C with Ron Kinney's Eclipse. Michael Twining's Vim won Non-Spinnaker, and Frank Hanna's Prime Plus won the Racer/Cruiser division. Jopie Helsen's Jade Cru Chu won Cruiser A, and Bruce Bingham's Nikki won Cruiser B.

Sunfish Worlds: St. Petersburg Yacht Club sailor David Mendel­blatt finished second at the Sunfish Midwinter Championships hosted by Sarasota Sailing Squadron on March 11-14. Mendelblatt finished the regatta strong with two second places to qualify for the Sunfish Worlds in Curacao on June 12-19.

Junior News: Several SPYC youth team members have qualified to compete at the Optimist Team Trials. Liam McCarthy, Ty Baird, Nic Baird and Nicholay Calhoun will race in the Dinghy Team Trials in April. McCarthy qualified at the Southeastern Championships in Atlanta, and the Bairds qualified at the U.S. nationals in Cabrillo Beach, Calif. Calhoun qualified at the SPYC International Valentine's Day Regatta. The Team Trials are being hosted by the Texas Corinthian Yacht Club in Kemah, Texas, April 29-May 2.

More Optimist news: St. Petersburg's Bill and Sally McCarthy won the United States Optimist Dinghy Association award for distinguished service and outstanding contributions to junior sailors worldwide as the annual hosts of the St. Petersburg Yacht Club Valentine's Day International Regatta.

Clark Mills Regatta: Last month's annual Clark Mills Regatta, sponsored by the Clearwater Yacht Club, drew 130 of the bay area's top youth sailors. The 40-boat Green Fleet, the youngest Opti sailors, raced in sheltered waters of the bay while more than 90 older sailors in Opties, 420s and Lasers competed offshore.

Allison Jolly Regatta: Junior female sailors from as far away as Connecticut gathered in St. Petersburg on March 7-8 for the 11th annual Allison Jolly Regatta. The event, hosted by the St. Petersburg Yacht Club's Salty Sisters, saw 73 girls compete in Optimist Prams, Lasers and Club 420s.

Hannah Cantolino from Manatee County turned in the best performance in the 23-boat Opti Green Fleet. St. Petersburg sailor Blaire McCarthy won the white fleet, and Eliot Caple from Naples Community Sailing came out on top in the red fleet.

In the Laser/Club 420 course, Cara Pate from Venice Yacht Boating Association won the Laser 4.7. Molly McKinney from Sarasota Youth Sailing Program won the Laser Radial, and Mary Hall and Alex Church of SPYC won the Club 420.

The regatta is named after Allison Jolly, a St. Petersburg native, sailing coach at USF and world's first woman to win a gold medal in Olympic sailing.

Eckerd News: The Tritons are on a roll. The crew finished second at a recent regatta at Rollins and ninth at an event in Charleston, S.C. Eckerd also delivered solid performances at Florida and USF and is set to compete this month against Old Dominion, Hampton and Miami.

Morgan Invasion: The Treasure Island Yacht Club will host the 25th Morgan Invasion on April 16-17. The regatta, which features a rendezvous in the Gulf of Mexico of hundreds of yachts designed by legendary boat builder Charley Morgan, is the high point of the year for many west coast sailors. For more information, go to

Lessons: The St. Petersburg Sailing Center is offering lessons for kids ages 8-16 in Optimist and 420 dinghies. It also is offering a beginner class called "Harbor Mice" for kids 5-7 from 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4:30 p.m. from June 14-Aug. 20. For details, go to or e-mail

Sailing: Marylander wins Thistle Midwinters 04/01/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 9:26pm]
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