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2010 Sperry Top-Sider St. Petersburg NOOD Coverage

In a last-race battle in the J/24 class, Tim Healy and his talented squad take a win home and a trip to the Caribbean.

February 13, 2010

As the final day of racing progressed on Tampa Bay on Sunday, the towering smoke stacks on the eastern shore hinted at what was to come: the morning’s horizontal streaming plumes slowly giving way to vertical trails. Luckily, the 0930 warning signals at the Sperry Top-Sider St. Petersburg NOOD Regatta’s three circles allowed the race committee to squeeze in two more races before it all went kaput.

As the final day of racing progressed on Tampa Bay on Sunday, the towering smoke stacks on the eastern shore hinted at what was to come: the morning’s horizontal streaming plumes slowly giving way to vertical trails. Luckily, the 0930 warning signals at the Sperry Top-Sider St. Petersburg NOOD Regatta’s three circles allowed the race committee to squeeze in two more races before it all went kaput.

Tim Wilkes Photography| |A crowded J/24 start on the final day of the Sperry Top-Sider St. Petersburg NOOD regatta. Overall champion, Tim Healy’s USA 5235 is in the middle, keeping a close eye on their main rivals, ARG 5398.|

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And in the dying northeasterly that defined the day’s sunny but cold conditions there were all sorts of puffs, lulls, shifts, and holes and to avoid. There was no predictably to the breeze whatsoever. Even a few competitors that came out on top in the day’s races admitted that conditions were of the mind-bending sort.

Still, it made for interesting races, especially in the J/24 class, which produced the regatta’s overall champion-Tim Healy USA 5235. Healy, a sailmaker with Quantum Sails, Rhode Island, went into the last race with a slim lead over Argentinean champion Joaquin Doval, and approached it with a pretty simple plan: beat Doval and keep his nose clean in the process. That later element would later be critical.

“We didn’t want to be over early or hit anyone,” says Healy. “We just wanted to be conservative.”

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Healy, with crew John Mollicone, Steve Lopez, Dan Rabin, and Gordon Borges, got a decent jump on Doval’s squad on the first beat, but their focus on the Argentineans almost cost them the regatta. “We sailed ourselves pretty deep into the fleet, and we gave them the opportunity to put a lot of boats between us,” says Healy. “We should have sailed our own race and just stayed in phase with the shifts.”

At the ensuing leeward mark rounding, some heads-up logic saved their bacon. Approaching the mark on starboard, and with inside rights on a multiple-boat pile-up, they quickly realized that taking advantage of their right-of-way wasn’t going to do them any good. “We would have stuck it in there and either hit the mark or other boats,” says Healy. Instead, they sailed around the entire pack and got in on the tail end of the pinwheel. “It definitely got pretty bad.”

He estimates they rounded 20th (while Doval was top-five), but they worked the right side of the racecourse hard on the following beat, where they were banking on better pressure. They passed enough boats to make it nearly impossible for Doval to put enough points between them, and Healy’s eighth to Doval’s fourth gave the New Englanders a 1-point win and a trip to the Caribbean in November to the Sperry Top-Sider Caribbean NOOD Championship.

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All in all, it was an excellent kickoff to the nine-stop 2010 NOOD Regatta series, with 113 boats contesting six quality races-which is pretty good considering the light-air conditions that have challenged this regatta venue over the past several years.

There were quite a few familiar faces at the winner’s podium, too, including J/80 champion Kerry Klingler, who won this important tune-up regatta for the October J/80 Worlds in Newport; and Doug Fisher in the Melges 24 class, a repeat winner here over the past three years, who won out on a tie-breaker with Steve Sudath.

Other individual class winners include: Juan Mauri (Hobie 33); Clifford Farrah (Corsair Sprint 750); Bert Rice (Corsair 24); Peter Katcha (Corsair 28R); Brad Boston (S2 7.9); Jackson Pentith (J/22); Rick Doerr (Sonar); and Tac Boston (Ultimate 20).

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Feb. 13, 2010

With a frigid 15 to 20 knots, racing finally gets underway at the Sperry Top-Sider St. Petersburg NOOD Regatta.

When Paul Husey and his teammates on the Melges 24 Hoodlum Racing peeled around the weather mark in the first race of the Sperry Top-Sider St. Petersburg NOOD Regatta, there was a whole lotta racecourse between them and the rest of the fleet.

The problem was they were supposed to be crossing the nearby finish line, not adding a fourth leg to the three-legger that had been posted by the race committee. Once they figured out their mistake they were already quarter-mile down the racecourse, planning along in the morning’s 15-knot northerly.

“I can’t remember the last time I’ve sailed a three-legger,” said Hoodlum’s Todd Hillard. “And it was our best set of the day!”

After clawing back to 11th, Hoodlum followed up with a stellar horizon job in the next race and a second in the next so they sit behind Steven Kopf in the overall standings by 3 points. The day was not lost on Hillard, who said that their new rig tune (tighter) setup gave them a gear they’ve never had before.

And the day was very much about boatspeed. A solid 15 to 20 allowed the race committees on three circles to get in four races before setting everyone in to warm up from daytime highs in the 50s.

Fortunately, Sunday looks promising for two early morning races. More than we can say for the America’s Cup.

Check back later and see how this three-day affair shakes out in a number of classes. There’s some good battles about to be waged (especially in the J/80 and J/24 fleets).

Results
Photos

Feb. 12, 2010

A Better Day For Watching AC Racing

When the AP went up the yardarm of the St. Petersburg YC, the sailors assembled around the widescreen television in the club bar didn’t seem to mind the least bit. The historical AC33 provided hours of distractive entertainment as several hundred sailors finally got a glimpse of what the two AC multihulls could do.

Too bad the club’s hometown hero, Ed Baird, (in the Alinghi camp) was on the receiving end of a BMW Oracle beating.

Others milling about in the club were happy to give crews stuck in East Coast winter travel snafus a chance to get to get to Florida.

National Weather Service| |With a strong front sitting overhead and a lengthy list of NWS-issued warnings, St. Petersburg YC PRO Pat Seidenspinner called it an early day.|

There were, of course, the occasional grumbles about conditions being perfectly suitable to sail. PRO Pat Seindenspinner, however, wasn’t about to send 113 boats out on a furious-looking Tampa Bay. Not on her watch.

“It’s nasty out there,” she said at 0900. “It’ll only get worse.”

To her credit, she was right on as gusts and rain squalls swept in by 2 P.M. The sailors had long disbanded to local bars, attractions, and hotel rooms with the hopes of getting underway tomorrow.

Speaking of which: two things will be guaranteed-sun, and wind.

As for Florida’s warmth?

Not a chance: here’s the forecast:” Mostly sunny, with a high near 57. Wind chill values as low as 40 early. North northwest wind between 13 and 17 mph, with gusts as high as 24 mph.”

Brrr.

-Dave Reed

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