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Not the Daytona 500

February 17, 2003
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John Burnham

Peter Bream skipped the Daytona 500 this year instead of the last day of the Sailing World St. Pete NOOD regatta. His crew made sure of that. After winning the J/24 class in the NOOD with his Tarheel for three years running, Bream decided to go watch car racing a year ago, and Steve Wood’s Tasmanian Devil came from behind to win the event. This year, with a record 28 boats making the 24s the biggest NOOD class at St. Pete, Bream focused on the business at hand, shook off a determined Wood on the last day, and won by a comfortable margin.

The breeze picked up for the regatta’s last day, and the five years that Bream’s crew of Thistle sailors—Christian Smith, Chad Palmer, Scott Griffin, and Paul Adullah—have sailed together made a big difference. Pete Colby, Wood’s tactician said, “Whatever we thought we should do, they’d think it a second ahead of us. Peter drives the boat really well, and everybody on his crew is a good driver so they know what should happen next.” Bream finished 4-1 for the day, while Wood went 7-5 but still finished well ahead of third-placed Lon Ethington of Redington Shores, Fla. After a series of mid-fleet finishes, Peter Benziger, of Miami, won the day with a 1-3.

This NOOD regatta gave the first class start at any mainstream regatta for the Colgate 26 class. Ted Squire, of Marblehead, Mass., brought his boat, a new suit of sails, and a tough team down from Marblehead, including Jud Smith, Roy Briscoe, and Rick Graczyk. He won every race, but preferred to talk about how he and others are working to build a traditional local fleet for what’s been sold more commonly as a daysailer and as a school and institutional boat to places like the U.S. Naval Academy. Steve Colgate, who conceived of the boat and asked Jim Taylor to design it, supported the regatta enthusiastically, bringing three boats from his nearby Offshore Sailing School and sailing one of them himself. In the regatta, Colgate finished second, beating a boat full of his instructors by three points.

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Squire’s victory was only one of two wins over the weekend for Marblehead’s Boston YC: Charlie Quigley won the 16-boat Sonar class, adding to his 2002 Mallory Cup win (the US SAILING Men’s national title). In Sunday’s single Sonar race, Quigley successfully covered Jens Kroker, the top disabled Sonar sailor in the world, to nail down his first place.

“I don’t know what his disability is,” said Quigley. “He was strong on the racecourse—and smart.” Both sailors ended up in the wrong spot in the last race, however, which allowed local Ed Sherman to win the race and move into second for the series ahead of Kroker, while John Ross-Duggan, second for the race, tied Kroker for the series but dropped to fourth on the tie-breaker.

Ross-Duggan, a 1996 Paralympic bronze medalist and 1998 world disabled sailing champion for the United States, was upbeat about his improving scores during the regatta. He said, “First I have a good crew. Also, I psychologically recommitted to a no-holds-bar attempt for 2004. We’re tuning with everybody, and if they beat us, more power to them.” He sailed with his regular crewmembers Mike Ross, J.P. Creignou and Larry Kutno.

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| John Burnham|

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| In Sunday’s first race, Scott and Steve Liebel (left) make a tactical rounding behind Lainie Pardey (center) and John Hyatt (right). They passed both and finished third, then won the finale.* * *|

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In the Melges 24 class’s last race, Scott and Steve Liebel avoided trouble in the last race at a mark rounding that included most of the J/24 fleet and won the race handily. Alex Shafer’s Tommy Bahama, after winning the first race of the day, finished second, to the Liebels by one point, after passing Chris Schoendorf’s Taz, in both races. In the first race Tommy Bahama nipped Taz right at the finish, and in the second, it moved ahead after the above-mentioned mark rounding when Taz, riding in second place, was caught outside a pack of J/24s. “We had some bump and grind at that mark,” said Schoendorf, of Sturgeon Bay, Wis. Forced to the right, they then missed out on a 15-degree lefthand shift, which dropped them from second to sixth for the race. Still, they beat John Hyatt’s Gone Mad by 14 points for third overall.

The regatta ended with awards and a light dinner at the St. Petersburg YC, and big cheers for the 50-plus volunteers of the club’s race committee, which continues to push to run races more efficiently to maximize the competitive action. The weather was stormy to the north, and rain fell on many sailors hauling their boats, but with all classes getting in five to seven races, the weekend was judged successful by most.

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