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Boat of the Year winners honored

Consistency _ and at times, survival _ were key ingredients for the winning skippers as 1997-98 Boat of the Year honors were awarded April 24.

The BOTY series, which began in Bradenton last September and included more than a dozen long-distance overnight races and shorter battles around the buoys on local waters, came to a close after Suncoast Raceweek in mid-April. The El Nino winter provided a difficult season, as most races had an over-abundance of wind and rough seas.

Davis Island Yacht Club sailor Bill Terry took top honors in the PHRF Spinnaker Class with his Farr 36 Hot Tub. Ken Friedman's J/27 Instant Karma was second.

"I'm very pleased, and proud of my crew who worked so hard," Terry said.

Hot Tub was designed and built for SORC in 1982 and was launched by the original owner, Ted Simpkims, as Free Fall. Terry, who began racing on Tampa Bay in the '70s, bought Hot Tub in 1985 and completed three SORC regattas when they included races around the tip of Florida.

Ed Racker's Hunter 35 Sloop de Ville led the non-spinnaker division most of the season and the Davis Island Yacht Club sailor closed the winning effort with three "bullets" at Suncoast Raceweek. Joe Patsko's Centurian 47 Vagabond trailed Racker.

Midget Ocean Racing Club Boat of the Year honors went to the Wavelength 24 Mal de Mer, skippered by Richard Karren of the Davis Island Yacht Club, followed by Roy Sherman's Zephyr, also of the DIYC.

A new perpetual trophy sponsored by Henderson Yacht Designs was awarded to the top sportboats for the season. Michael Carroll's New Wave locked up the overall trophy with two wins at Suncoast Raceweek, with Scott Liebel's Speed Racer taking second place.

The trophies were presented at Treasure Island Tennis & Yacht Club during the awards ceremony for Suncoast Raceweek. Despite rumors of its demise, the traditional raceweek likely will be held again next spring.

Vic Gittens of the Suncoast committee said, "I think we're a go for next year, but I'm not sure what the format will be it depends on sponsorship. We did reach 47 boats this year, close to what we had in 1997."

HOSPICE CUP: The Hospice Cup, a benefit for the Hospice Foundation of the Florida Suncoast, will set sail Saturday from several locations along the St. Petersburg waterfront.

A recent change will move the beach-launched dinghies and catamarans to a launch area near North Shore pool in North Shore Park instead of the Spa Beach location announced previously. The Optimist classes will still be sailing out of the St. Petersburg Sailing Center on Demens Landing, along with the disabled sailors who are competing in a national qualifier regatta as part of the Hospice Cup.

Sailors who will be launching from North Shore Park are encouraged to pre-register Friday between 4 and 7 p.m. at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club to avoid the Saturday morning congestion. Opti sailors will register at the sailing center the morning of their races.

A new feature of the Hospice Cup this year is competition for powerboats in a "predicted log" event. According to Hospice Community Events coordinator Amy Schowalter, six boats are needed to make a class.

"The skippers are given times when they need to be at particular points on the bay," Schowalter explained, "so they have to calculate the distance and the speed to get there on time."

For information on the Hospice Cup and related land-based events, call Schowalter at (813) 586-4432.

BIKINIS NOT REQUIRED: The Windjammers of Clearwater are hosting the 41st annual Bikini Cup _ races for women-only teams and crews with only one man _ with small-boat sailing on the bay near the Clearwater Sailing Center Saturday.

Racing for Bikini Cup PHRF keelboats takes place in the Gulf of Mexico May 9, with post-race events at the sailing center. Contact Ellen Henderson at (813) 781-3923 for entry information.