Bill Chamberlain loves living on a peninsula. • "No matter which way the wind is blowing, you've always got some place to sail," said the 50-year-old foilboarder. "I can't think of a better place to be." • Foilboarding, also known as hydrofoil kiteboarding, is one of the fastest growing extreme watersports in the U.S, with a small but dedicated following in the Tampa Bay area. • But Chamberlain and his fellow foil fanatics think it is only a matter of time before you see as many people foilboarding as you do kite surfing. • "I've crewed on everything from America's Cup boats to high-tech catamarans," said the Michigan native. "But I gave that all up when I saw my first foil board." • A foilboard looks like a short surfboard with one major difference: It has a carbon fiber hydrofoil that extends below the board into the water. The foil provides lift, which causes the board to rise above the water and travel at a much higher speed than a conventional kiteboard. • "Just head down to the Skyway, Tierra Verde or Pass-a-Grille on a windy day and you will see people ripping across the water," said Chamberlain, a wealth manager from St. Petersburg. • "The speed is addictive."...
help sought for rock ponds restoration
Tampa Bay Watch, in partnership with the Southwest Florida Water Management District, needs 400 volunteers to plant salt marsh grasses to restore the Rock Ponds (near Ruskin just north of Port Manatee) from 9 a.m.-noon on Saturday. Salt marshes are key to restoring the natural balance most recreational and commercial species need to thrive. The physical address for the project is 4480 County Line Road, Palmetto. Go to tampabaywatch.org for more information and to register for the project....
LAKE BUENA VISTA
In my house, dad never wins. I hate to admit it, but kids rule. When it comes time for vacation or a weekend getaway, what the old man wants doesn't matter.
When I get a day off, I like to do something worthwhile, like watching football or napping by the pool, not standing in line for a roller coaster that will probably send me into cardiac arrest.
But it doesn't matter — this holiday season you will probably find me, and a couple of thousand other dads, chasing my kids through Walt Disney World. And for once, I don't really mind....
Kip Koelsch likes a challenge. It should come as no surprise, then, that the adventure-athlete-turned-race-promoter designs race courses full of surprises.
"So you are running along this flat trail and all of a sudden there's this hill that comes out of nowhere," he explained with a smile. "Nobody is going to be expecting that."
Koeslch, 48, has run, biked and paddled from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean in the legendary "Coast to Coast" race. Now the St. Petersburg man thinks he's got the next great challenge for weekend warriors looking for a change of pace: the off-road duathlon....
Jason Stock has fished for king mackerel out of everything from a plastic sit-on-top sea kayak to a 36-foot Yellowfin.
"It doesn't matter what size boat you are in," said the 29-year-old charter boat captain. "If you keep your eyes open, and have a little luck, you can catch a tournament-winning king."
Stock, who grew up in St. Petersburg and charters out of Anna Maria Island, doesn't have a triple-engine offshore machine. He typically fishes for kings out of his 23-foot Hanson, a locally-built boat known for durability and versatility....
In Fabien Cousteau's world, people will live, work and, of course, play under the sea. The grandson of the legendary ocean explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau spent 31 days last summer hanging out in a marine laboratory 63 feet below the water's surface in the Florida Keys.
"It was one of my fantasies," said the 47-year-old aquanaut, a headliner at this week's Blue Ocean Festival in St. Petersburg. "I always want to go deeper, stay longer … that is where our future is, under the sea."...
tampa bay duo second in tourney
Brett Norris of St. Petersburg and Kris Howell of Tampa finished second out 105 teams in the 2014 Inshore Fishing Association Redfish Tournament in Houma, La. last weekend. The Tampa Bay anglers entered a combined weight of 35.12 pounds for the two-day tournament, winning $28,000. It was their first trip to the Louisiana IFA Championship series, which included teams from all over the Southeast. Norris and Howell also won Team of the Year honors for most points in the three-tournament series, which included events in Sarasota and Punta Gorda....
WITHLACOOCHEE STATE FOREST — Nobody knew why Old Man Tucker disappeared. Some say he just wandered off into the woods. Others think he fell prey to a wildcat, black bear or maybe that old bull gator that lived down by the creek. But one thing is for sure — nobody round these parts ever saw him again, alive that is, 'cause ghosts don't count, unless of course it's Halloween....
The first thing I do on Halloween when my kids come home from trick-or-treating is go through their bags and steal all of their Snickers bars.
I can go months without eating candy, but for some reason, I lose all self-control when I see my favorite "fun size" snack.
I'll usually eat three or four of those tasty treats then wake up the next morning feeling guilty and hung over from the sugar high. That triggers a mild depression that can only be self-medicated with November's holiday foods: pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes (and generous quantities of Sam Adams seasonal ale)....
DUNEDIN — Like most stand-up paddleboarding enthusiasts, I've never paid much attention to technique. I just take it slow and go with the flow.
"That's no problem," paddleboard racer Karen Mirlenbrink explained. "We'll make a racer out of you yet."
Mirlenbrink and her husband, Rob, an accomplished waterman in his own right, organize the Shark Bite Challenge at Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin, one of the largest paddling festivals in Florida. This weekend they'll host another event that they hope will become equally as popular — the World Paddle Association Championships on St. Pete Beach....
Brittany Pierce doesn't mind coed triathlons. The elite triathlete, a Clearwater Beach lifeguard, is used to competing with men. • "They make you go faster," she explained. "But I can understand why some women, especially if they are new to the sport, can find it kind of intimidating." • The swim portion, the opening leg of a triathlon, can sometimes feel like a free-for-all. It's not uncommon to get slapped, punched and kicked as competitors struggle to find a lane to open water. • Excuse the cliche, but it is often "every man for himself." • Race organizer Fred Rzymek said his all-women's triathlon will have a different vibe. "So far everybody has been really receptive," he said. "We are expecting 500 women at Fort De Soto this weekend, which is great for a first-time event."...
Clutching a telephone pole 60 feet above the ground, I wondered why I hadn't told Aaron Corr* that I was scared of heights.
"There is nothing to it," Corr had said as I started the long climb to the zip line above. "Just don't look down."
His advice worked for the first six stories, but now standing atop a small platform with no handrails, I had to look somewhere.
"Scared might be too strong a word," I said to myself, trying to get psyched up for what lay ahead. "Don't like heights would be more accurate."...
TAMPA — Like many die-hard "prop" men, I once snubbed my nose at jet-powered watercraft. A dedicated outboard owner, I dismissed these recreational vessels as nothing more than jet skis on steroids.
Times have changed.
"Where's my ride?" I asked Justin Greene, pointing to a beefy boat on the back of a trailer outside Barney's Motorcycle & Marine in St. Petersburg. "I'm here to do a test drive."...
The Royal Clipper harkens back to an era when an aristocratic elite traveled the Caribbean in style. With a waterline of 439 feet and an average speed of 10 knots, the Monaco-based Clipper line is for cruisers interested in an Old World experience.
But the Royal Clipper, the first five-mast, fully rigged sailing ship to be built since 1902, has 42 sails that require constant care and maintenance, and when one rips or needs to be replaced, the Clipper line turns to a New World sail loft, St. Petersburg's Island Nautical....
TARPON SPRINGS — After kayaking nearly 40 miles in one day, the last thing Mary Mangiapia wanted to do was tow some stranded jet skiers to shore.
"I had no choice," said the 28-year-old from Tampa who hopes to be the first woman to complete the 1,500-mile Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail. "But they were stranded and needed help."
The man and the woman told Mangiapia, who started her expedition Sept. 6 near the Alabama border, that their personal watercraft broke down Monday afternoon. They spent the night on a sandbar and tried to flag down passing boaters all day Tuesday off of Tarpon Springs. ...