Midwinter Champions Crowned After Tough Series

Winners in 13 Classes Collect Trophies After Three Days of Racing on Tampa Bay

Racers at the Sailing World St. Petersburg NOOD regatta, a three-day regatta presented by Mount Gay Rum came prepared. Each of the 162 teams--traveling from 20 states, Canada, England, and Ireland--managed a long list of logistics just to get to the starting line of this national sailing circuit. But when they arrived, Tampa Bay gave them conditions that are hard to prepare for: days of shifty, northerly winds that give luck a heavy weight in any racer’s formula for success.

For Tampa sailor Mike Carroll, fortune swung his way on the final day of the series, bringing a windshift that became this crew’s express ride to a win in the last race.

With local racer John Jennings onboard, Carroll and his crew on Henderson 30 New Wave were in third place in the last race when the shift came through. "We saw the other boats auto-tack, so we tacked, laid the finish, and won. . . Today was really flukey and we just picked the right shifts: the old adage that every squirrel finds a nut definitely applied," said Carroll.

This three-day regatta, hosted February 15-17 by the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, was sailed in a range of conditions: from Friday’s sun and little wind; to a stiff and shifty 15- to 20-knot northerly on Saturday; to Sunday’s tamer northerlies, at 10 to 12 knots.

A total of 13 classes competed, and four classes used this event to determine their 2002 Midwinter Championships. The St. Petersburg NOOD regatta kicks off the nine-event National Offshore One-Design racing circuit organized by Sailing World magazine.

Doug Fisher of Sarasota was crowned the Melges 24 Midwinter Champion and the Hall Spars & Rigging Boat of the Day when he won the largest class in the regatta, the 31-boat Melges 24 class, by a gargantuan points margin of 26.5 points.

Fisher has only sailed a Melges 24 for five months--but he vows he’s been learning the tricks of the boat ever since. Local Olympic medallist Morgan Reeser, who sailed as part of the crew, helped strengthen the crew’s braintrust.

"Between Morgan and I, we’ve been finding a few new gears," said Fisher. "When we’re sailing my way and start feeling slow, we switch to his way. And when his way feels slow, we switch back. It works pretty well."

For Bob Shingler of Flowery Branch, Georgia, the St. Pete NOOD brought many firsts to this Olson 30 racer.

This regatta was the first time this Lake Lanier sailor raced his boat in saltwater; and it was the first time he raced one-design in a fleet of identical Olson 30s, a class that is largely active on the U.S. West Coast class. Still, Shingler won this class to add one more first to his list: his first Midwinter Championship win in this fleet of 30-footers.

A fleet of Corsair trimarans joined this event for the first time in Tampa Bay. St. Petersburg sailor Doran Cushing won the Corsair class with his crew on Tri Southwinds by a two-point margin.

Two young Sarasota racers helped Tampa Bay’s Charlie Clifton capture the Midwinter title in the SR Max class. Racing with Clifton were Dan Wiedenhoft (age 16) and Dalton Tebo (age 12). This crew took their class title with a comfortable 9 points to spare. But according to Wiedenhoft, their success had more to do with preparation than with luck.

"We’d been practicing every weekend we could before the regatta, and we really had our teamwork down. We all knew how to do our jobs, and didn’t have to worry about anyone on the boat," said Wiedenhoft.

For complete fleet results and daily race reports, visit the Sailing World website at www.sailingworld.com.

The NOOD regattas are a nine-event racing circuit organized by Sailing World magazine of Newport (R.I.). The St. Petersburg NOOD was presented by Mount Gay Rum. Support sponsors who joined 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.

The NOOD circuit next travels to San Diego (Calif). The San Diego NOOD will be hosted by the San Diego Yacht Club, March 15-17.

---reporting by Dave Reed

FINAL RESULTS (13 classes)

Corsair (9 boats) - 8 races 1) Doran Cushing, St. Petersburg, FL, Tri Southwinds, 20 2) Robert Remmers, Buda, TX, Breaking Wind, 22 3) Joseph Rome, Cocoplum Beach, FL, Lucky Star, 31

Henderson 30 (9 boats) - 8 races 1) Michael Carroll, Tampa, FL, New Wave, 11 points 2) Scott, Steve, C Liebel, Sarasota, FL, Speed Racer, 24 3) Neil Rattan, West Point, CT, Love Letter, 28

Hobie 33 (9 boats) - 8 races 1) Christian Schaumloffel, Virginia Beach, VA, Mirage, 20 points 2) Alex Segev, Hollywood, FL, Predator, 27 3) Kenneth Benton, Miami, FL, Bandit, 36

J-24 (22 boats) - 6 races 1) Steve Wood, West Kingstown, RI, Tasmanian Devil, 25 points 2) Peter Bream, Jacksonville, FL, Tarheel, 27 3) Larry Flinn, Ossining, NY, Clearheader, 30

J-29 (13 boats) - 8 races 1) John Esposito, New Rochelle, NY, Hustler, 14 points 2) F. Case Whittemore, Richmond, VA, Patriot, 32 3) Jay Tovey, Rochester, NY, The Fish, 34

Level 123 (9 boats) - 8 races 1) Ed & Scott Peters, Apollo Beach, FL, Tigress, 13 points 2) Valeri Safiullin, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Breeze, 18 3) J World Racing Team Red, Annapolis, MD, Plain White Boat, 22

Melges 24 (31 boats) - Midwinter Championships - 7 races 1) Doug Fisher, Sarasota, FL, Polywog, 12 points 2) Doug Kessler, Marietta, GA, Liberty 2, 38.5 3) Mike Krantz, Flowery Branch, GA, Lamorak, 40

Olson 30 (7 boats) - Midwinter Championships - 8 races 1) Bob Shingler, Flowery Branch, GA, Lulu, 18 points 2) Bob Bozeman, St. Petersburg, FL, Twisted Fate, 21 3) Mike McGagh, League City, TX, Wild Rover, 21

S2 7.9 (8 boats) - 8 races 1) Boston, Grosse Point Woods, MI, Half Baked, 14 points 2) William A. Boston, Point Edward, ON, Frequent Flyer, 17 3) Bill Jenkins, Grosse Pointe Park, MI, Crime Scene, 23

Sonar (22 boats) - 8 races 1) Peter Galloway, Wilton, CT, Fast Forward, 14 points 2) Josh Goldman, Westport, CT, Sonar, 34 3) Ken Womack, Houston, TX, (none given), 53

SR Max (10 boats) - Midwinter Championships - 8 races 1) Charlie Clifton, Sarasota, FL, Col. Fletcher Prouty, 15 points 2) Bill Embree, St. Petersburg, FL, Viento, 24 3) Brad Kadau, Treasure Island, FL, Changes in L’Attitude, 25

Tartan Ten (5 boats) - 8 races 1) Bill Buckles, Lorain, OH, Liquor Box, 14 points 2) Donald Fritz, Toledo, OH, Full Bore, 14 3) Doug Baker, Chicago, IL, Temerity, 28

Ultimate 20 (8 boats) - Midwinter Championships - 8 races 1) Kevin Knight, Dublin, OH, KK-Spirit, 17 points 2) Robert Bilthouse, Odessa, FL, Bob Sled, 18 3) David Crall, Loveland, OH, Pandemonium, 29