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"Viento' captures spinnaker

Timing is everything in winter sailing, and the weekend weather was ideal for the one-design dinghies and handicap-rated monohull fleets of racing boats competing on Tampa Bay.

After a Saturday with southeast winds in the teens, the front that pounded the region Saturday night cleared out by morning and brought more big-breeze sailing.

Allen Saunders' 36-foot Jenneau cruising racer, Cat's Meow, dominated the 25-mile race at the Davis Island Yacht Club Commodore's Cup on Saturday.

"We just had our kind of air this weekend," Saunders said. "We had two days of 20-knot breezes."

Cat's Meow didn't do as well in the shorter windward/leeward courses Sunday and finished second overall in the 16-boat spinnaker fleet. Bill Embree's SR 21 sport boat, Viento, took spinnaker honors with a second in the distance race and a 1-3 record Sunday.

Bill Meyers' 25-foot Hyggelig _ one of the smallest boats in the non-spinnaker divisions _ used his rating handicap advantage to move into the overall lead after the distance race and followed with a 1-4 record to capture non-spinnaker honors. Steve Leonardo's C&C 36 SeaWings finished second overall while winning non-spinnaker division A.

The seven-boat Midget Ocean Racing Club division featured a battle between Dave Germain's Mad Cow and Roy Sherman's Zephyr with Sherman winning overall honors despite hooking a course marker buoy in the closing race.

"I had to go overboard to release the marker. We fought back to finish fourth and won the tiebreaker," Sherman said.

While the PHRF and MORC keelboats sailed on the eastern side of Tampa Bay, the Dead of Winter regatta provided one-design Snipe dinghy racers two days of wet competition near the St. Petersburg bayfront.

Perennial visitor Birger Jansen of Norway narrowly defended his title against northern sailors Andrew Pimental and Carol Cronin. Sailing with crew Liv Ulvie, Jansen won two of the three final races.

The 27-boat fleet managed three races Saturday before storms intervened. Two additional races were completed Sunday.

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