ST. PETERSBURG — When the starter's gun goes off for the St. Anthony's Triathlon next week, thousands of athletes, from neophytes to pros, will swim nearly a mile in Tampa Bay, bicycle 25 miles through the city's streets, then finish with a 10K run along the scenic waterfront. Some compete for money, others for awards, but most just want to finish. • These multisport events have become increasingly popular in recent decades, thanks in part to entry-level races such as today's Escape From Fort De Soto Triathlon. Now, athletes are getting into the sport earlier, which allows them to get better faster. So triathlon fans should get used to seeing more home-grown athletes among the elite pro ranks. Here are two young bay area triathletes to watch next weekend at St. Anthony's....
The wind blew 20 miles per hour out of the north. Waves, 4 to 6 feet high, broke over the bow of the flats skiff, nearly filling the boat with water.
It was not a good day to be on Tampa Bay.
"I was having a great time, but the boat was about to sink," recalled 67-year-old Carl Selles. "So I had to stop."
So much for rules, the swimmer thought. If only he wasn't required to have a support boat escort him on last year's 24-mile swim from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge to the finish line at Ben T. Davis Beach....
Inshore event Benefits Hospital
The Florida Gulf Coast Center for Fishing Foundation will present a catch-and-release event Saturday to benefit St. Anthony's Hospital. The rules are simple: just catch, photograph and release your biggest snook, redfish and trout, add them up and greatest aggregate length is the winner. First-place prize is $2,500. For info, call (727) 825-1086....
I was drifting the grass flats on a fine spring morning, but my fishing hook just wouldn't stay attached to the leader. It seemed like every time a baitfish hit the water, some swift, silent predator would swim by and slice the line.
My first guess was Spanish mackerel. After all, 'twas the season.
But even a hapless trout fisherman such as myself manages to land a "Spannie" now and then without the help of light wire. It could be a blacktip, I thought, but the water was still a little cool for sharks to be in the bay....
FORT DE SOTO — Jim Wilson is a big-picture kind of guy.
"If you plant sea oats," he said, "you protect the dunes. If you protect the dunes, you protect the bay … and that's where the fish are."
Wilson, the chief ranger for the crown jewel of the Pinellas County park system, is also an avid angler. When he's not looking for sea turtle nests on the beach, he's usually wading along the mangrove shoreline in search of redfish and snook....
Dave McEnery walked into a bicycle shop five years ago looking for a way to stay in shape. The 30-something former hockey player wasn't exactly a couch potato, but he knew that 240 pounds was too much weight to carry on his 5-foot, 11-inch frame.
"I left there with three bikes," said the 41-year-old Largo resident. "It didn't take long before I was hooked."
McEnery was no stranger to speed. He had done his share of motorcycle racing, but it wasn't until he stopped by his first criterium, or "crit," as it is known in cycling circles, that he learned just how fast a nonmotorized machine can go....
Sonja Tutwiler had homework to do, but it didn't take much to persuade her to close the books and put it off for another day.
"My husband said let's take the boat out," Tutwiler, a student at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, recalled. "I said why not."
Rick Tutwiler, who grew up fishing along the local beaches, was itching to catch a king.
"I didn't know if the big push had come through yet," Rick Tutwiler, 31, said. "But I figured why not? I might as well give it a try."...
LAKE KISSIMMEE STATE PARK — Jeff Futch promised I would not knock my teeth out.
"There's nothing to it," he said, rocking back and forth on his all-terrain Segway. "Even you could do it."
I've always tried to avoid land sports and stick to the water. It hurts less when you fall.
It seems every time I climb on a motorcycle, ATV or mountain bike, I end up hitting the ground, hard. I've had all sorts of breaks, tears and bruises, and I've got the scars to prove it....
Red snapper allocations Topic of meeting
Should recreational anglers get a larger share of the red snapper quota in the Gulf of Mexico? Or should commercial fishermen get to increase their catch so more fresh fish will be available to consumers? These questions and others will be discussed when the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council holds a series of meetings in the coming weeks on Reef Fish Amendment 28 — Red Snapper Allocations. The red snapper tour swings through St. Petersburg on Monday at the Hilton Carillon (950 Lake Carillon Drive). The meeting runs from 6 to 9 p.m. For more information, call (813) 348-1630 or go to gulfcouncil.org....
In the 14-year history of the Everglades Challenge, a 300-mile small-boat race from St. Petersburg to Key Largo, people have tried to make it in every craft imaginable, including kayaks, canoes, catamarans, even paddleboards.
But nobody had ever made it on a windsurfer — until this year.
"We are humble, happy and proud," said Tony Vandenberg, a former Eckerd College sailing team member who now lives in Charlotte. "It was a survival race."...
Club can speed Fly-fishing learning curve
If you're looking for an entertaining sport that will keep you frustrated for life don't play golf, pick up a fly rod. Saltwater fly-fishing can take decades to master, but you can fast-track your education by joining a fly-fishing club. The Tampa Bay Fly Fishing Club will hold its annual banquet March 30 from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Hunter's Green Country Club in Tampa. To learn more, call Walt Durkin (813) 476-7128....
Sails and Song Celebrate U.S. history
Classic sailboat fans can get a behind-the-scenes look at the 1812-era Privateer Lynx during a fundraiser from 5-8 p.m. Saturday at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club (11 Central Ave.). Tax-deductible tickets cost $75 per person and include ship tours, live and silent auctions, food and drink. The event, part of the celebration of the bicentennial of the Star Spangled Banner, also will feature an authentic fife and drum corps. For information, go to privateerlynx.com....
ST. PETERSBURG — Stop by the Tampa Bay Boat Show at Tropicana Field this weekend and you'll see the top fishing boats on the market. But every angler knows that it takes more than a sound hull and dependable engine to catch fish. You need a little rigging.
Fishing boats — everything from flats skiffs to center consoles — must have the right equipment. Rod holders, electronics and livewells are all a matter of personal preference. Rigging a boat the right way is as much of an art as it is a science. That's why even big boat fishermen can learn something from kayak guide Neil Taylor....
"Happy are those who dream dreams … and have the courage to make them come true."
Verlen Kruger, long-distance paddler and canoe designer (1922-2004)
ST. PETERSBURG — Steve Isaac has adventure in his blood. The 65-year-old "chief" of a loose-knit group of small-boat enthusiasts called the WaterTribe nearly died four years ago when his canoe capsized one night several miles offshore....