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With lives in danger, the race could wait

Last weekend, it wasn't a case of win or lose, but life or death.

Sailboat racing is often defined in terms of the weather conditions in which it occurs. Rough weather can sometimes offer sailors the best competition.

But for a 16-foot powerboat, Sunday's strong breeze and chop was no fun. The boat capsized between The Pier and the Sunshine Skyway, leaving two people clinging to the hull, adrift.

A salute goes out to Tampa skipper Robert Hobbs and tactician Doug Fisher of Sarasota on My Girl for stepping out of the Tampa Bay Race Week competition and rescuing the two passengers.

"What else would we have done?" Fisher asked. "Left them?"

According to VHF radio calls, one racing boat called the Coast Guard to report the overturned boat, but continued sailing.

Carlisle Classic: With luck, the mix of sunshine and wind will reappear for this weekend's Carlisle Classic in Clearwater.

This regatta has something for everyone, including shoreside festivities and both bay and gulf racing. Sailboats of every description will compete Saturday and Sunday from the Clearwater Sailing Center, the Belleair Causeway and local marinas. For information, call the sailing center at 462-6368.

The Non-Spinnaker Boat of the Year series counts this race as part of its circuit, and the Pixie Sunfish series will be held in conjunction with the event. For sailboards, this is a national points series regatta.

WYRA: In Tampa, the Women's Yacht Racing Association series continues Saturday with the Dore Drake Memorial Regatta at Davis Island Yacht Club. The event is open to women only and will take place in Upper Hillsborough Bay. Inexperienced sailors can reserve a spot on a training boat for the next regatta by calling 229-2713 in Tampa.

Cats: Skipper Robbie Daniel returned from Maryland last weekend with the Mystere 6.0 catamaran championship title. Based at the Mystere Sailing School at The Pier, Daniel hopes to make the Olympic sailing team in 1996. He continues to look for sponsorship. Call 734-0799 in Clearwater.

Championship fever: Sarasota hosts the first Suncoast national championship regatta of the season next week. The Stiletto Nationals will be Monday through Oct. 28. These catamarans will race from the Sarasota Sailing Squadron on City Island.

Physically challenged: The International 2.4 Meter class North American Championships are Nov. 4-6 in St. Petersburg. Ideal for physically challenged sailors, these small (14 feet) sloops are touted as "the great equalizer" in allowing sailors of various strengths, weights and physical abilities to compete on even terms. For details, contact the event chairman at 363-7777.

J-24s: The J-24 North American Championships will be held in St. Petersburg Nov. 13-19. This regatta promises to bring hundreds of the best sailors from around the world to St. Petersburg for a week of one-design racing.