Difficult First Day for St. Petersburg NOOD Fleet

Day 1 in St. Pete leaves skippers scratching their heads.

Dave Reed

Sonar midwinter champion Peter Galloway of Wilton, Conn., despises the conditions he had to sail in today for the opening day of the Sailing World St. Petersburg NOOD Regatta. When describing how his team finished third in Race 1 and first in Race 2, he folds his right hand, shakes it a few times, and pretends to roll dice. “Today was a crapshoot,” he says. “And, yes, we got lucky a few times.”

Galloway’s second-race win started with what he called his team’s move of the day. Before the start he’d turned over the helm to crew Brian Hayes who proceeded to port-tack the 22-boat Sonar fleet. Crossing by less than five feet, they were launched to the right side of the course--to another of the day’s major windshifts. They continued to extend, but on the final beat the wind swung again. “Boats were spread all over the place and we were on the right trying to cover as many as we could,” says Galloway. “When the wind went way left we thought we were in trouble and had to bail towards the middle to cover them, too. We almost lost that one.” Ken Kelly of Victoria, Canada is second overall with 1-7 finishes.

In the SR Max class, holding their midwinter championship this weekend, Sunfish masters standout Charlie Clifton of Sarasota, Fla., is leading his 10-boat class with 1-3 finishes. Clifton has less than a year with the boat, but says he’s not having much difficulty making it go. “I’ve figured out how to change gears,” says Clifton. “But in this type of wind, it was nice to be in phase. It also helped that I have two young guys--12 and 16--who know where to move their weight to keep the boat balanced and that helps a lot.” Today was a good start for Clifton, but he’s tied on points with Brad Kadau of Treasure Island, Fla., who finished second in both races.

Lake sailors tend to excel in such light, shifty conditions and six-time S2 7.9 national champion and class leader William Boston of Ontario, Canada showed the eight-boat S2 fleet as much, winning both races. More importantly, however, Boston beat his rival nephew Skip Boston, who finished the day 2-2. “I’ve always been able to do well in that type of stuff,” says Boston, who’s been sailing S2s since 1982. “I think it’s because I’m patient, and you need to be patient to get from puff to puff--to not get too focused on pointing and speed.”

On the same circle, where two races were completed, Bill Buckles’ Tartan Ten from Lorain, Ohio, leads its class after winning both. Kevin Knight of Dublin, Ohio leads the eight-boat Ultimate 20 class, which is also sailing their midwinter championship, after winning both races. The Corsair class, made up of nine Farrier trimarans, has Joseph Rome of Cocoplum Beach, Fla., as its leader with 2-1 finishes, but Herbert Blivins of Longwood, Fla., is keeping close tabs on Rome, separated by only one point. One of three teams from J/World sailing schools leads the level 123 class. Crewmember rotate positions with every race, and Steve Canner of Washington, D.C., led the team to its Race 2 win. Gene Vialle of Kanas City, Mo., led the team to its third in Race 1. Their combined finishes put them in the lead, but tied with Ed and Scott Peters of Apollo Beach, Fla., and Valeri Safiullin of Fort Lauderdale.

The regatta’s second circle was placed farther north on Tampa Bay and for most of the morning was stuck in a glassy zone between a fading northerly and a stubborn sea breeze. Only once race was completed and those who were in the right place at the right time were happy to get ashore with their sanity intact. Bob Bozeman was one those with a rum drink firmly gripped; he still had the look of a deer in headlights. Bozeman is a local Olson 30 sailor who spent last year calling around the country to get enough 30s to St. Pete to get their own class start. He got seven teams to make the trip, and then proceeded to beat them in the day’s only race. However, says Bozeman, the win didn’t exactly win him any friends.

“We were leading most of the race and then made a couple of bad moves on the last run,” says Bozeman. The fleet piled up at the leeward mark--there was a lot of bumping and grinding--and I just happen to be the inside boat and got away clean.” The fleet, Bozeman adds, had never sailed together, which added another variable to the fleet. “Throughout the race everyone had great moments and that’s the way one-design racing is supposed to be.”

On the same circle were the Melges 24s with 31 boats, also contending their midwinter title. Jim Pearson of Wheatley, Ontario leads Doug Kessler of Marietta, Ga. Doug Fisher of Sarasota finished third ahead of local sailmaker Ethan Bixby. Jeff Todd of Annapolis Md., is fifth. In the J/29s, John Esposito’s invincible squad from New Rochelle, N.Y., recovered from a disastrous start and won its 13-boat fleet. Alex Segev of Hollywood, Fla., leads the nine-boat Hobie 33 fleet. Scott and Steve Liebel’s Henderson 30 Speed Racer won the pin to lead its nine-boat fleet around the racetrack untouched. Tony Dalia’s Zero Gravity from Sanibel, Fla., finished second.

Racing continues through Sunday. For complete results, visit SPYC’s website at http://www.spyc.org/OneDesign/NOOD/2002/results.htm

The NOOD regattas are a nine-event racing circuit organized by Sailing World magazine of Newport (R.I.). The St. Petersburg NOOD is presented by Mount Gay Rum. Support sponsors who join the event in St. Petersburg include: Hall Spars & Rigging, High Sierra Sport Company, North Sails, Raymarine, Samuel Adams and The Boston Beer Company, and Sunsail.