When Grant Dumas, of St. Petersburg, Fla., damaged his 38-foot sailboat boat two years ago, he took it as a blessing in disguise: a reason to haul it to dry land and tackle an extensive work list he’d been neglecting over years of hard racing. After fourteen months of continuous labor on his Tripp 38 “Warrior,” Dumas showcased the boat on Tampa Bay this weekend for its first major regatta of the season, the Helly Hansen NOOD Regatta. The boat was fast, the crewwork impeccable, and “Warrior” emerged as the top finisher in its PHRF 1 division.
Dumas’s notable performance as skipper then earned he and his teammates the St. Petersburg NOOD Regatta’s overall trophy—awarded to the winner of the most competitive class, as determined by race organizers. There were nine classes in all, 133 boats, and thousands of sailors vying for the overall award—a berth at the Helly Hansen NOOD Caribbean Championship in October in the British Virgin Islands.
Speaking to the challenges of winning his PHRF 1 division, Dumas said his goal on the final day, which started with him only 1 point ahead of Allen Thomas’ “Wired,” was to not make any mistakes. That’s easier said than done in sailboat racing.
“It was fantastic this week because the boat really lights up when it’s windy,” said Dumas. “We’ve had a lot of light wind regattas so far with this boat so this was fun. It’s a bunch old friends from Annapolis, Chicago, Miami, and locally, and we really put it all together out there.”
There’s some real talent in the PHRF fleet in St. Petersburg; there was a lot of crossing tacks, and tough starts. We tend to point a couple of degrees higher because we have a deeper keel, so pointing is part of our game. We went into today and had a quick crew meeting and said we needed to be smart and not do anything stupid, but then, of course, in the first race we were over early and had to restart, but we recovered well and the rest of the day went smoothly.”
Dumas’ closes rivals in his fleet tend to be faster in the lighter winds that typify racing on Tampa Bay, but the weather surely fell to the team’s advantage; three days of racing with winds averaging 10 to 15 knots marked one of the best and most memorable St. Petersburg NOOD Regattas in its 18 years running.
“My prediction for next year is more of the same,” said Dumas. “We put on an incredible show, especially for the out-of-towners, and I’m hoping they remember this and will want to take a winter break and come down here to the palm trees and sunshine next year.”