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Boats and more on view at show

Local sailboat dealers and businesses were unhappy being relegated to the back reaches of the powerboat show at the Bayfront Center.

So in 1996 the time came to start a show for sailing craft only. Today the Sail Expo St. Petersburg boat show has become a premier event in the sailing industry.

Now owned by Sail America, the show is one of several nationwide that feature sailing vessels. There also are displays of auxiliary engines and dinghies and even a few trawlers.

The venue is the downtown Vinoy Resort. Wear shoes that are easy to slip off so you can board the boats and take a look below.

Vinoy Park will have several large tents with booths for sailing businesses. You will also find gear and gadgets.

Many of the displayed items are at boat show prices. There are usually a few discontinued items and overstocked gear for sale. Even prices for big yachts can be reduced at the show.

Three tents are reserved for seminars. Topics include navigation, diesel maintenance, life rafts, cruising catamarans, boat maintenance, tips on several destinations, galley tips or even how to go cruising and stay married. Seminars are included with the price of admission.

Very young sailors might enjoy the Kid's Aboard booth where they can take part in building real plywood boats, painting them and giving them a name. This was a popular event at the New York Boat Show last month for kids and parents.

Discover Sail will give rides on boats ranging from dinghies to the Colgate 26 and a few larger cruising vessels with a galley and heads and wheels instead of tillers. It is a chance to try various boats.

The show runs from Thursday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily except for a 5 p.m. closing Sunday.

Admission at the gate is $10 Thursday or Friday, $12 Saturday or Sunday or $25 for a four-day pass. Visit sailamerica.com for information and admission discounts.

PARALYMPIC TRIALS: The trials to choose the USA disabled sailing representatives for the Athens Olympics start today off the St. Petersburg waterfront.

The two fleets will be small, but talented.

The 2.4 Meters for one sailor and Sonars for three will sail from the same starting line. The Sonars are larger and faster so will start first and sail to a more distant windward mark. The 2.4 Meters will then start and sail to a floating buoy about half as far to windward. Most of the races are a windward course and return, twice around, finishing back at the starting line.

Sonar sailors compete at the highest level in the open Sonar fleets.

There is a points system giving few points to a quadriplegic, more to a double amputee, etc., and the total points for the three must be below the maximum.

Racing ends Nov. 14.

CATAMARAN RACING: The Taipan catamaran was named for a most deadly Australian serpent. This 16-foot twin-hulled craft is one of the swiftest of the breed, often besting much larger multi-hull racers.

This weekend the Taipans hold their National Championship at the Gulfport Yacht Club on Boca Ciega Bay.

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