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Dunedin crew tops in Ensign at Midwinters

Dunedin sailor Zeke Durica and his experienced crew of Elizabeth Brincklow, Wayne Sincich and Michael Scheerer prevailed over 16 Ensign sloops competing in the third annual Midwinter Championship Friday-Sunday. The narrow waters north of Dunedin Causeway made windward-leeward courses necessary.

"We have sailed together as a crew for three years, so work well together," said Durica, who had five wins in nine races.

Winds generally were from the north with enough force to make sailing exciting for these full-keel boats with classic lines. Since the boats weigh 3,000 pounds and are a little under 23 feet long they sail much like a larger boat.

"The short, steep waves don't slow the boat down much," Durica said. "Upwind you try to get in a groove between sailing high into the wind and going fast."

Hank Williams and crew trailered his White Lady from Canadagua, N.Y. After winning the first two races, he sailed to second for the regatta.

Dunedin Boat Club has embraced the boat, both for its classic lines and seakindliness. It is also small enough to be sailed in the confines of the club's waters. Dunedin sailors on the boat of Dede Plessner finished third and David Thinel fourth.

The Ensign was designed by Carl Alberg in 1960 as the Electra. He and the builder, Everett Pearson, were sailing the boat when their wives complained that it was too much cabin and not enough cockpit to sail comfortably with four aboard. So the boat was redesigned to its present form in 1962 and became popular as the Ensign.

"I never planned on being a boat builder," Durica said. "But when I broke the mast, there was no where to get a class-legal replacement without ordering several. One thing led to another and now I'm the builder of new boats." Durica's shop is in Dunedin, one of the many making up Tampa Bay's boat-building industry.

David Brooks restores older Ensigns in Clearwater and has won the Most Beautiful Ensign award for five years. His boat was chartered to Jim Beyer from Michigan, one of seven states represented at the event.

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