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Sailing: Seven from Pinellas make U.S. Sailing team

Three-person crews pilot their Thistle class boats during the Midwinters East Regatta that ended in early March.

CHAR DOYLE | Special to the Times

Three-person crews pilot their Thistle class boats during the Midwinters East Regatta that ended in early March.

Seven Pinellas County-area athletes have been named officially to the new 2009 U.S. Sailing team.

The team includes: Zach Railey, Finn class, 2008 Olympic silver medalist; Paige Railey, Laser class, 2006 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, 2006 ISAF Sailor of the Year; Emily Billing, Laser class, a high school senior who plans to attend Yale in the fall, is one of the team's youngest members; Ben Barger, men's RS:X, 2008 Olympian; Allison Jolly, women's 470, 1988 Olympic gold medalist; Jen French, Sonar, four-time winner of the Milan-Gruson Award for top disabled female skipper, and crew Brad Kendell.

These sailors will spend the next few years training for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games in Weymouth/Portland, England. The 10 classes chosen to compete at the 2012 Olympic Games are: Laser Radial (women), Laser (men), Finn (men), men's RS:X, women's RS:X, 49er (men), men's 470, women's 470, Star (men) and Elliott 6m (women). The three Paralympic classes chosen for the 2012 Paralympic Games are: 2.4mR (open), SKUD18 (mixed) and Sonar (open).

Mendelblatt Shines: St. Petersburg's Mark Mendelblatt delivered a solid performance in Miami last month to finish second behind Bermuda's Peter Bromby in the 2009 Bacardi Cup Star Class Regatta. Mendelblatt, the 2005 Bacardi Cup champion, and crew Bruno Prada, who finished just six points behind the winner. More than 60 teams representing 15 countries competed in the event, one of the top Star class races in the world.

Jolly Regatta: On March 7 and 8, some of the nation's best young female sailors came to St. Petersburg for the Allison Jolly Girls Regatta. In the Laser 4.7 fleet, the St. Petersburg Yacht Club's Mary Hall won four of five races. Donna Rudnicki went to the podium for the first time, finishing third overall. Caroline Wallace finished fifth overall in her first Laser Radial event. In the Opti class, Alexa Lynch finished 12th overall; Claire Dudenhoefer, 16th; Sofia Juster Kruse, 18th; Sylvia Hopkins, 19th; Charli Baden, 30th. In the Green Fleet, Blaire McCarthy finished eighth overall followed by Estil Loyd in 11th, Calista Hopkins in 12th and Rhiannon Gillett in 15th.

More NOOD: SPYC junior sailors Mateo Vargas, John Wallace, Kyle Sowers, Max Baird and Chris Gardiner made the move from their normal dinghy background up to the J24 to compete in the 2009 St Petersburg National Offshore One-Design Regatta. In their first-ever J24 event, the boys finished ninth overall and showed the fleet they will be a force in the future, oftentimes sailing in the top of the pack.

Regata del Sol al Sol: The St. Petersburg Yacht Club will host its 41st annual Regata del Sol al Sol, a blue-water race from Tampa Bay to Mexico on April 24. Thirty-three sailboats ranging in length from 33 to 72 feet have already signed up for the 456-mile journey across the Gulf of Mexico to Isla Mujeres, a small island off the coast of Cancun. It takes between two and four days to complete the race. The current record is 52 hours, 19 minutes set in 2008 by Francis Rooney aboard Buena Racha.

Thistle Midwinters: More than 100 sailors from all over the country converged in late February/early March for the Thistle class Midwinters East Regatta, held for the 53rd time, in the waters off the Pier in downtown St. Petersburg. The event was won by Greg Fisher, Jo Ann Fisher and Jeff Eiber.

Michelob Cup: Robert Hobbs and his Farr 39 No Limits won the Spinnaker 1 division of this 19.5-miles race hosted Saturday by the SPYC. Other winners included: Myers Grimsdale, Carrera 29 Renegade, Spinnaker 2 division; Mauro Harto, J-34 Mojo, Non-Spinnaker 1 division; Doug Fuller, Catalina 22 Capri, Non-Spinnaker 2 division; Ken Carriero, Catalina 36 Zingaro, Cruising 1 division; Bruce Bingham, Cape Dory 28 Nikk, Cruising 2 division; and Hall Palmer, Beneteau 53 Relativity, Racer Cruiser Class.

To submit sailing news, go to and click on the "Submit info here" link. Or reach Terry Tomalin at (727) 893-8808 or e-mail him at

Sailing: Seven from Pinellas make U.S. Sailing team 04/02/09 [Last modified: Thursday, April 2, 2009 4:30am]
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