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The Seabreeze Filled and the Wait Had Benefits, Too

The second day of the Sailing World St. Pete NOOD was memorable

February 16, 2003
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John Burnham

“It was like sharks with blood in the water,” said Jay McArdle, “when the first Mount Gays were handed out.” During a wait for wind on Tampa Bay on Day 2 of the Sailing World St. Pete NOOD, the sponsor VIP boat carrying guests from Mount Gay made a few friends on the B Division course. McArdle sails a J/29 he calls Fast Lane and said, “We were second at the ‘mark’ and picked up 12 drinks on one pass, although we were beaten there by a J/24.”

The J/29 class cheerleader was in a good mood, considering he’d been having his best race in the morning when the wind died and racing for some class had to be abandoned. Several classes completed their early race, including most of the smaller clases on the south course, which had a bit more breeze than the north course. Among the 10 J/29s, John Esposito’s Hustler had the best day, with 2-1 finishes, taking a 4-point series lead ahead of Case Whittemore’s Patriot, which finished 5-2.

On the smallboat course, in the SR Max class, yesterday’s Hall Spars & Rigging Boat of the Day, TBD, owned by Josh Wilus, almost duplicated its perfect opening day, missing out by a matter of feet. “We were overlapped at the finish,” said Wilus’s crew T.J. Voght, and neither TBD’s crew nor Jan Wiercinski’s Blind Chance team knew that the latter had won the day’s third race until later. For Blind Chance the race was a big improvement from it’s sixth-place average through the first four races. Despite finishing second, Wilus’s three-man team of Voght and helmsman Jeff Linton still leads the series with a comfortable 7-point lead. When asked about his role on the boat, Voght said, “I’m the ‘double-fat’ crew. When I told Josh I weighed 225 pounds, he said I could come.”

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| John Burnham|

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| Jeff Siewert (2350) rounds the final mark of the day in second ahead of J/24 regatta leaders Peter Bream (2802) and Steve Wood (3969).* * *|

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One class that competes at nearly every other NOOD regatta debuted this weekend at St. Pete, a small group of J/105s. Geoff Burge of St. Petersburg opened up a 3-point lead in his Stampede today with two firsts is the J/105s. His secret weapon may be having multihull sailors aboard. Robbie Daniel, one of the best Olympic Tornado sailors in the United States, is trimming the jib and spinnaker. “We have to win the race to the first mark,” he said, “because we have a smaller spinnaker. Downwind we’re totally in defense mode against boats like Fire & Ice [George Cussins’ second-place J/105].” Another crewmember is Corsair trimaran owner Doran Cushing, who said Burge was doing a great job steering: “He hadn’t raced in two and a half years, but he got up to speed quickly; he won the first race Friday.” By contrast, Daniel has been sailing plenty, but said the last time he was aboard a monohull was racing a Sunfish, three years ago.

The 16 classes will wrap up their series with one or two races on Sunday. Forecasts call for stronger winds, with possible thunder storms in the afternoon. Hopefully the fleet will be headed in to their docks, trailers, and the awards ceremony before any electrical activity on the bay takes place.

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