Spoony Tactics Pay Off on Tampa Bay

Todd Fedyszyn's J/24 team took a democratic path to victory at the 2011 Sperry Top-Sider St. Petersburg NOOD.
Sailing World


Happy campers (left to right): Todd Fedyszyn, Genoa Fedyszyn, Eric Bardes, Doug Weekly Michael Lovett

Todd and Genoa Fedyszyn received their J/24 Spoony Tactics as a wedding present from her parents. “It’s a good boat,” she says. “It might not be pretty, but it’s fast.”

Like many wedding presents, however, the Fedyszyn’s doesn’t get used all that much. Both husband and wife coach sailing for St. Petersburg YC’s junior program; they spend most weekends attending the sailing aspirations of others. One regatta they never miss—not for the past six years, at least—is the Sperry Top-Sider St. Petersburg NOOD. “With our schedules, this is the one event we set aside in advance,” says Todd Fedyszyn. “We look forward to it every year. You can bet we’ll be here next year.”

They better be here next year. After all, they’ll have an overall victory to defend. After edging out Mike Ingham’s Fawn Liebowitz and Travis Odenbach’s waterlinesystems to win the 20-boat J/24 division, the Spoony Tactics crew earned top honors, which include an invitation to compete in the Sperry Top-Sider Caribbean NOOD Championship, raced in Sunsail 39s in the British Virgin Islands this November.


As is so often the case, the key to victory was consistency on the starting line. In the ultra-competitive J/24 class, many of the pre-regatta favorites found their scorelines mired in alphabet soup after incurring OCS penalties. “We were able to avoid being over early,” says Fedyszyn. “One of our biggest problems in the past was our starts were either unbelievable or second-row. This year, three of our four starts were great, and even the one that wasn’t, we were able to tack away early and get right, which was our plan.

“We were actually a little more aggressive with our starts than we’ve been in the past,” continues Fedyszyn. “We used to always start in the middle of the line. This year, we were either within two boats of the boat end, or two boats of the pin. We just took a stab at the favored end. Having sailed against [local J/24 ace] Robby Brown in the past few years, that seemed to be where he was getting us. So we were a little more aggressive this year, and it paid off.”

The _Spoony Tactics _crew—which also includes trimmer Doug Weekly and tactician Eric Bardes—has a fairly democratic approach to onboard communication. Information flows to Todd Fedyszyn, the skipper, from the bow on back. “Having worked together over the years, we respect each other,” says Genoa Fedyszyn, who handles foredeck duties. “There isn’t the sense that someone’s opinion is better than someone else’s.”


“We like to make decisions as a team,” adds her husband. “There’s not just one decision maker. Everyone’s input is welcome. We don’t like decisions to be one person’s. Of course, sometimes it doesn’t end up that way.”

On Sunday, the Spoony Tactics brain trust had some difficult decisions to make. “That dying easterly breeze is hard to understand,” says Todd Fedyszyn. “We see those conditions a lot, but they’re hard to read. It’s hard to know whether to go right or left, especially with the current switching mid race.”

Although he’s been sailing on Tampa Bay for years, Bardes was at a loss when confronting Sunday’s sputtering winds. “Local knowledge? Not today,” he says. “It was tough. We took some risks looking for fresh air, and they paid off.”


It was risky business maintaining a consistent scoreline in St. Petersburg, and when they’re kicking back in the Caribbean this fall, the Spoony Tactics _gang will be thanking their lucky stars.
For compete results from the 2011 Sperry Top-Sider St. Petersburg NOOD, click here.