ST. PETERSBURG — February was a busy month on the local waterfront. Hundreds of sailors from around the country and Europe converged near the Pier in downtown for what would become a historic National Offshore One Design (NOOD) Regatta.
Paul Callahan of Cape Coral captured five firsts in the Sonar class. The 49-year-old quadriplegic became the first disabled sailor to capture top honors in this event competing against able-bodied sailors.
"I think it shows everybody what disabled sailors can do," said Callahan, who represented the United States at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Australia. "It was a very big achievement for us and disabled sailors everywhere."
Callahan, who runs a sailing program in Rhode Island, shared the victory with local hero Jean-Paul Creignou, John Gray and Jeff Madrigali of Soling fame.
St. Petersburg's Robby Brown, who usually crews aboard other race boats, got a rare chance to run his own ship. His J-24, Preparation J, beat the 26-boat fleet.
"I am usually sailing with clients," Brown said. "It was good to get in the boat and skipper for a change."
Finishing second was the husband-and-wife team of Todd and Genoa Fedyszyn, who are members of the Davis Island Yacht Club. Their boat, Spoony Tactics, didn't grab any firsts but finished high in the pack each race.
But Todd, who coaches the St. Petersburg Yacht Club's youth team, was more excited about how some of his protégés finished in the Sonar class. The Sonar team, skippered by Mateo Vargas and crewed by John Wallace, Ian Holtzworth and Chris Gardiner, finished third overall, edging Rick Doerr, who will be the U.S. representative in the class at the Beijing Olympics.
Elsewhere, 170 sailors gathered in Clearwater for the Laser Midwinters, hosted by the Clearwater Yacht Club. Zach Railey, who will represent the United States in the Finn class, took to the water to give the play-by-play while his sister, Paige, who narrowly missed a chance to join her brother in Beijing, sailed to victory in the Radials.
After the regatta, Zach, 23, was off to Spain to compete for the Princess Sofia World Cup event, while Paige, 20, heads to New Zealand for the Laser Radial World Championships. You can follow Zach's exploits at www.zachrailey.com.
Joining Zach in Spain will be boardsailor Ben Barger, who will also be in China this summer. "I've got a full schedule," said Barger, 27. "It's off to Spain, and then I'll be in Italy, France and then Holland." Keep up with Barger's travels at www.bentobeijing.com.
On the college front, USF's women's sailing team beat two ranked teams, including No. 2 College of Charleston, en route to fourth place in the USF Intersectional Regatta on Feb. 16-17.
"We are not ranked right now, but after this showing we certainly hope to move into the rankings next month," said coach Allison Jolly, an Olympic gold medalist.
Kim Witkowski sailed with crews Steph Reynolds and Elizabeth Foy and finished fifth in A division. St. Petersburg native and freshman sailor Rachael Silverstein raced with crews Ash Landes and Darby Smith and ended up third in B division.
The Eckerd College Tritons have been keeping busy as well. Eckerd hosted the South Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association (SAISA) Open to kick off the season and was the top South Points school behind a strong effort by Spencer Verney, Ashley Zuorski, Dylan O'Brien and Lillian McCormick.
The top coed team has been in action at College of Charleston and came home in third place after a strong regatta. Andrew Keane and Arthur Blodgett skippered for the Tritons. Nicole Butchart and Sheehan Commette were the respective crews for the Triton drivers.
Eckerd is holding its marine yard sale to support the school's rescue (EC-SAR) team. A variety of boats and marine equipment will be on display March 15 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Eckerd Waterfront, 4200 54th Ave. S, St. Petersburg. For information, contact Scott Ferrara at (727) 864-8555.
Terry Tomalin can be reached at (727) 893-8808 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To submit sailing information, go to community.
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