Melges 24 Team Wins Midwinter Championship and Overall Title in St. Pete

Steve and Catherine Boho's team on The 300 win the Midwinters and get berth to the BVI championship.


Steve and Catherine Boho, owners of the Melges 24 The 300, had some mild trepidations about racing on the final day of the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series in St. Petersburg. As they stepped out of their hotel and into the heavy rain and the brisk north wind in the morning, they knew the day was going to be fast and physical.

“I said, ‘When the going gets tough the tough get going,” Catherine says. “I didn’t really want to go today, but it was a fast race so that was good.”As winners of the regatta in 2023, the Bohos were determined to repeat their Melges 24 Midwinter Championship win. “I think the mantra was, “We’re gonna win it again, so we wouldn’t be satisfied if we didn’t.”

The Boho’s credited their young tactician, Eddie Cox, with bringing out the best of the crew, which included Ted Keller, Sophie Jones. “With this boat, there is a lot of athleticism, a lot of hiking, and a lot of moving the boat around,” Steve says. “Our crew work around the corners was awesome. The girls handled the front of the boat and they did great, so all I had to do was hold the tiller.”

Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series in St. Petersburg
Steve and Catherine Boho’s The 300 puts its winning form on display at the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series in St. Petersburg. Walter Cooper

As winners of the Melges 24 division, the Bohos were also selected as the regatta’s overall winner, which earns them the first berth at the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series Caribbean Championship in the BVIs, hosted by Sunsail in October, where they’ll race other winners from the Series, as well as the defending champion.

Steve and Catherine Boho
Steve and Catherine Boho earned the first berth for the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series Caribbean Championship. Walter Cooper

“It’s very special that we’ve been able to sail together,” Steve says of sailing with his wife, who does bow. “It’s something that we both love to do, and to share our passion together at home and to be able to come to places like St. Pete, and now the BVIs…it’s going to be a real treat.”

Mike Schroff and teammate Abby Brown were poised to win the 31-boat Melges 15 class win after a strong performance on Saturday and the duo excelled in the breeze and waves to close out an impressive performance across three days of racing that had all top-five finishes. A third and a second to finish the series was confirmation this pair is locked in stride, and Schroff and Brown celebrated their one-year anniversary of sailing the Melges 15 together with a resounding win in St. Pete.

Mike Schroff and Abby Brown
Mike Schroff and Abby Brown put the finishing touches on their Melges 15 division win on a windy Sunday afternoon in St. Pete. Walter Cooper

“We trusted in us being fast downwind,” Schroff says, “but the story of this regatta is all Abby. She called ferocious tactics and perfectly called the starts of the last two races.”

Their newfound confidence in their speed, both upwind and downwind, Schroff says, is also attributed to working with a coach over the past year, but the team’s real success of the weekend is the chemistry that’s now been established between the skipper and crew. “We were quick enough, and that made the tactics nice and easy,” Schroff says, “but Abby is the story of the weekend—we’ve made believers of each other.”

Bill and Jackie Baxter’s team on Fireball notched its third consecutive win in the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta’s ORC division with another impressive performance that included four wins in six races. A pre-start port-starboard incident on the second day of the regatta marred their nearly perfect scoreline with a 12-point disqualification, but they put it behind them on Sunday morning and dominated both races from start to finish to close the series with a 2-point win over Adam Prettyman’s Tartan 10 Ghost.

“This morning, in the weather briefing, it was all about watching the left-shift, so that’s all we did today,” says Fireball’s trimmer John Logue. “[In both races] we started at the pin and protected the left. We had anywhere from 12 to 18 knots and this boat [a J/111] goes upwind amazingly in that stuff. We had flawless crew work. Full credit to the bow team—they were right on and the sail handling was flawless. It also really helps that Bill keeps the boat immaculate and we sail together all summer so we’re tight and we just have fun.”

Distance Race fleet
The Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta’s Distance Race fleet sets off on its second 17-mile race on Sunday. Walter Cooper

Many of the regatta’s Distance Race teams opted to stay in harbor, but those who set off were rewarded with long miles of hard but rewarding sailing. Wet and tired sailors returned their slips with stories to tell. Bob Harkrider’s Aerodyne 38 Shark Rider won the Spinnaker division race, and coupled with a second on Saturday, secured the division win. Gail Hausler’s Beneteau 40 Liquid Time, Saturday’s race winner, got away clean on the downwind start with their spinnaker flying and extended from there to win the Racer-Cruiser division once again. Dan Gross’s Salt D did the same in the Cruising division, using its long waterline length to its advantage in the big breeze and steep waves. Antonio Sanpere, in his C&C 24, won both races to secure another win in the non-spinnaker division.

Further north on the regatta’s C Division racecourse, a tight battle at the top of the J/70 fleet played out in favor of Joel Ronning’s team on Catapult, which posted a fourth in the first race, but the team’s win in the final race was exactly what they need to come out on top of a tiebreaker with David Janneti’s Very Odd. Cate Muller-Terhune’s Casting Couch was only 2 points back.

Skipper Mike Ingham and his family
Skipper Mike Ingham and his family approach the weather mark at the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series in St. Petersburg. Walter Cooper

Mike Ingham’s all-family program topped the J/24 division with a strong performance in the breeze, winning both races to top Mike Quaid’s Ice Cube by 4 points.

The regatta hosted four class midwinter championships; for the Melges 24, Hobie 33, Sonar and S2 7.9 classes, and it was John Spierling’s Rebel that emerged as the top team in the S2s, Steven Attard’s Rhumbline in the Hobie 33s, and skipper Kevin Holmberg in the Sonars.

While Hall of Famer Augie Diaz was leading the competitive Lightning division after Saturday’s races it was the more experienced team on Jody Lutz’s crew that excelled in the breezy races with a 1-2 to take the lead and the regatta win.

J/70 division in the St Pete regatta's final race
Joel Ronning’s Catapult captured the J/70 division with a win in the regatta’s final race. Walter Cooper

It was tough going for the singlehanders of the Contender class, but Michael Smits, of Toronto, managed to keep his boat upright in both races to win the regatta by 10 points, thanks in part to Ethan Bixby’s DNF in the day’s first race following a capsize. Bixby had a solid lead going into the day, but the 10-point DNF was too costly in this no-discard series.

The Flying Dutchman, Windmills, Wetas and A Class Catamarans opted not to race given the conditions so the results remained unchanged after four races. Oscar Rogers was the top A Class Classic skipper and Larry Woods topped the A Class Foiling division. Pete Merrifield locked up his third Weta win at the Helly Hansen Regatta Series in St. Petersburg with a perfect scoreline. Pat Huntly won the Windmills and Paul Scoffin was the top skipper in The Flying Dutchman.