A New Day With New Leaders at Sailing World NOOD

With a cold, shifty 15 to 20 knot northerly on Tampa Bay, it was the practiced teams that climbed to the top of their classes today. First among them was sailmaker Doug Fisher from Sarasota, Fla., who now leads the Melges 24 midwinter championship after winning three straight races.

Fisher started sailing the Melges 24 five months ago and says he’s been learning the tricks of the boat ever since. But after racing today, Fisher revealed that Morgan Reeser, a local 470 Olympic medalist and father-to-be was on his team. “Between Morgan and I we’ve been finding a few new gears,” says 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.” Fisher finished 25th at the Melges 24 Worlds in Key West last month and says the experience was a stepping stone. “It was the first time we’d sailed in big chop,” he says. “We learned a lot and we plan on doing more good things with this boat.” In the overall standings, Mike Krantz of Flowery Branch, Ga., is 10 points in arrears, and with only two races likely tomorrow he will certainly have his work cut out for him.

With three wins today, Peter Galloway of Wilton, Conn., extended his lead in the Sonar class and admitted the increased velocity was more to his liking. “We’re about 80 pounds overweight, which really helped in the first windy race,” says Galloway. “With the extra poundage you can really power these boats up and keep them flat. With that, we definitely had a speed advantage. Once it got lighter it wasn’t as easy.” Twenty-one points separate Galloway and second-placed skipper Josh Goldman of Westport, Conn. U.S. Disabled Sailing Team member Paul Callahan is third with 30 points.

The J/24 class sailed only one race yesterday, but the race committee later discarded it, so today the 22-boat fleet started with a clean slate. Three-time defending champion Peter Bream of Jacksonville, Fla., wasted no time putting his team at the top of the leader board with 3-2-1 finishes. Bream’s Team Tarheel leads Larry Flinn’s Clearleader of Ossining, N.Y., 3 points in arrears. James Howard of Duluth, Ga., is third with 13 points.

Rob Bozeman, yesterday’s leader of the Olson 30 class, started the day with a win but stumbled in the next, finishing fourth and then fourth again in the class’s third race. “I don’t know what happened,” says Bozeman. “We just got stuck in a rut.” As Bozeman dropped to second in the overall standings, Mike McGagh of League City, Tex., waltzed in with 1-2-1 finishes for a 2-point lead. The lead changed hands in the Hobie 33 class as well, with skipper Juan Mauri of Dallas, Tex., demonstrating his team’s heavy-air prowess. They dominated the nine-boat fleet with a 2-1-1, building a 3-point lead over Chris Schaumioffel of Virginia Beach, Va.

Today was a better day for Mike Carroll’s crew on the Henderson 30 New Wave, which went 1-1-1-2 to take the lead in the nine-boat class. Scott and Steve Liebel’s Speed Racer--yesterday’s leader --slipped up in the day’s first race, finished seventh, and is currently 6-points out of the lead. In previous years, Liebel has come back to win this regatta on the final day, so there will undoubtedly be a bit of match racing in their game plan tomorrow.

While lead changes prevailed across most of the classes, some teams solidified their top spots, including John Esposito’s J/29 Hustler. Hustler won three before finishing second, building a 9-point lead over Case Whittemore’s Patriot of Richmond, Va. Bill Buckles’ TartanTen Liquor Box increased its lead to 3 points. David Crall of Loveland, Ohio won two of three races in the Ultimate 20 class, moving him into third overall, but class leader Kevin Knight kept his finishes in the top-three to keep his lead over Robert Bilthouse of Odessa, Fla., to 7 points.

Local sailor Bill Embree started his climb up the ranks of the SR Max by winning two of three and shaving Charlie Clifton’s lead to 1 point. Brad Kadau of Treasure Island, Fla., is lurking 3 points out of first and tomorrow will be watching both Clifton and Embree with a close eye.

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.