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Local sailors reign in races far, wide

While local competitive sailing takes a break for the summer, Tampa Bay youths and adults have taken top honors at regattas in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

Katie Whitman of the Davis Island Youth Sailing team won the Canadian National Optimist Championship July 11-14. The 11-year-old topped a fleet of 60 young Optimist Pram sailors at the Bedford Basin Yacht Club in Bedford, Nova Scotia. Her younger brothers also came home with trophies. William, 9, placed second in the White Fleet and Ben, 7, received the Sportsmanship Award.

St. Petersburg's Tim Landt may have left the youth sailing scene a few years back, but he hasn't lost the competitive spirit. The 41-year-old won the masters division (35-and-over) at the U.S. Laser National Championships sailed July 11-13 out of the Richmond Yacht Club on San Francisco Bay. He finished 12th overall among 57 boats. Ian Lineberger, 42, of St. Petersburg was second in the masters and 22nd overall.

"I've been chasing a national title for 12 years," Landt said.

The regatta was sailed in 20-knot winds with strong currents sweeping across the race courses. "It's the best place in the world to sail the speeds are high and it's tactical too," said Landt.

Orlando Gledhill of Toronto won the overall title.

Ethan Bixby, who owns the North Sails loft in St. Petersburg and races a variety of one-design and PHRF keelboats locally, competed at the International Level Class (ILC) 40 World Championships in Athens, Greece, in early July. He worked as the trimmer on the 10-man crew aboard third-place finisher Adalanti IV, owned by George Andreadis of Greece.

The championship brought together 10 world-class ILC 40 teams for a week of buoy and distance racing in the newest high-tech, one-design 40-footers from Europe and New Zealand.

Andreadis and Bixby have teamed up for numerous campaigns on one-design racers.

Teenagers Jim Cook and April Franklin of St. Petersburg teamed for second place at the Snipe Class Junior National Championship in Pensacola on July 12-13. Cook, 19, is a freshman on the University of South Florida sailing team. Franklin, 14, sails out of the St. Petersburg Sailing Center. Scotty Lang, 12, of St. Petersburg was the youngest skipper at the regatta, sailing with his 15-year-old brother Mark.

OLYMPIC HELPERS: While the glory will go to the competitors at the Olympic yachting events over the next nine days, many Tampa Bay sailors will be working at the Savannah, Ga., venue making sure the competitors have a level playing field to test their skills. Members of the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, Davis Island Yacht Club, and Tampa Yacht and Country Club will play critical roles as on-the-water officials and support staff.

Leading the effort is Pat Seidenspinner of the St. Petersburg Yacht Club. She was selected as the principal race officer _ the top official _ on the Mistral boardsailing course for the men's and women's events. Joining her will be bay area sailors Carol Bardes, Wilson Barnes, Hank Buckner, Tom Ellis, Dave Fagen, Nancy Graham, Gene Hinkel, Jack Huber, Carol Johnson, Pam Landt, Tim Landt, Nel Lee, Chris Maxim, Henry Minis, Henry Moore, Page Mulhollan, Bob Olmstead, Ralph Seidenspinner, Jim Waters, and Maridell Weaver.

UPCOMING EVENTS: The Moorings Sailing Club will host a free sailing sampler Saturday at the Harborage Marina on Bayboro Harbor in St. Petersburg. Designed to introduce new sailors to the sport, the program includes a brief land-side orientation prior to a bay cruise aboard 35- to 50-foot boats. Reservations are required. Call Karen Romanat at 896-7900.

The Midget Ocean Racing Club (MORC) Station 10 will host an invitational regatta Aug. 3 at the St. Petersburg Sailing Center. It is open to boats under 30 feet that meet MORC specifications.

MORC representatives Paul Silvernail and Rod Koch will be at the regatta site prior to the 3 p.m. skipper's meeting to answer questions concerning the MORC rules and measurement system. Racing begins at 4 p.m. For further information, contact Silvernail at 327-5361 in St. Petersburg.

The Florida Ocean Racing Association (FORA) will hold a general membership meeting Aug. 7 at 7 p.m. at the Davis Island Yacht Club in Tampa. FORA recently revived its ocean racing programs and has scheduled a series of distance events beginning with an Aug. 30 night race from Davis Island to Longboat Key. For information, call Robin Wilstein at 987-5338.