From Where's the Water? To 'Go-Fast Mode'
By Ray Dupuis
APOLLO BEACH – The excitement was building at the skippers' meeting the night before the 55th running of the Gasparilla Regatta set for Feb. 8 at Tampa Sailing Squadron. Principal Race Officer Henry Morse went over the courses, start details, wind forecast and the expected low tide.
Although specifics were not discussed, charts indicated the low to be -1 foot, 2½ hours before the racing was to begin.
But on Saturday morning the racers – 43 boats entered – found many of their boats stuck on the bottom, some heeling dramatically, at the club's marina.
Light winds were expected out of the southeast. Instead, much stronger winds came out of the north, pushing a lot of water out of Tampa Bay.
Race officials quickly delayed the racing an hour. A bit later it was delayed another hour. Pressed for time, race officials decided to make some courses shorter, and instructed those competing in pursuit races to use scheduled start times. The finish times would be corrected.
The eager crews were finally able to move out of Bal Harbor into Tampa Bay where they found the winds better than expected.
Cruising and Motherlode boats round the first mark on the pursuit-race course during the 55th Gasparilla Regatta on Tampa Bay.
Photo by CLAIRE WITTNEBERT
Seven boats were competing on the windward-leeward course – four in PHRF Spinnaker and three in PHRF Non-Spinnaker.
In Non-Spinnaker, Darin O'Neal, skipper of Claim Weeks, an Ericson 23, said, ''It's rare that I get a series win, especially when racing against Gene Dinisio on Shrew. The competition was fierce. In the first race, going around the course twice, we really slugged it out. Ed Plotts finished first” on Slippery When Wet (a San Juan 28), but corrected to third. Gene and Shrew (a Creekmore 23) corrected to first and I finished second. In the second race we beat Shrew boat for boat. Although Ed finished first, he owed both of us time and we corrected over him. The wind shifted in the third race and the downwind leg became a broad reach. I snuck in on Shrew and rolled him to windward. I had to fight him off and Ed overtook both of us. Although Ed finished first, there was just seconds between Shrew and my boat. We corrected over both boats to win again. I credit the wins to really good starts in the second and third race and good winds -- not survival winds -- but it was go-fast mode.”
In the Spinnaker class, Frank Selph Jr. captured first place aboard Junior, a J 27. “I really liked the new course. Having the start line in middle of the windward leg made it interesting and fun,” said Selph, of Tampa. “It started out close, but we moved away on each leg. Winds were shifty and the course had to be adjusted for each of the three races.” Dan Kresge, of Apollo Beach, took his J 24, Ragged Edge, to second place.
Four boats competed on the long course in two classes; PHRF Doublehanded and PHRF Racer/Cruiser.
In the Doublehanded class, Mary Bs, a Catalina 22 sailed by Joe Benkel and Karissa Hendershot took first place over Kent Bailey's Pilgrim, a Pearson 30. “We sailed Mary Bs behind Pilgrim to the weather mark. and we had two reaches to the next mark where we split tacks. We stayed on port and Pilgrim went to starboard. When we came back we were about a third of mile behind her and it was a beat to the finish. Pilgrim finished less than eight minutes before us. But she owed us about 15 minutes and we corrected over her by a little more than seven minutes,” Benkel said.
In the Racer-Cruiser class, Wing It, an Irwin 39 sailed by Mike Doyle and his crew took top honors with Tigress, an Abbott 33, entered by Ed and Scott Peters taking second.
Meanwhile, on the pursuit-race course, the 15 PHRF non-spin Cruising class entries and crews were split into two divisions, A & B. The 16 Motherlode entries, with ratings assigned, were also split in two divisions.
In Cruising A, Robert McChesney of Apollo Beach took his S2 7.9, Apollo Breeze, to first place. “It was a beautiful, sunny day with nice winds for our boat. We got to the the starting line on time on a starboard tack, but the wind shifted and we had to tack to make the gate and the first mark. From there we maintained max speed,” McChesney said. Guppie-S, a Catalina 320 sailed by Herb Wittnebert of Apollo Beach, finished second.
Stargazer, a Cal-27, took top honors in Cruising B. “We had a great start among quite a few boats and were fortunate to have a good tack on the first mark, passing many boats and the class lead” said Steve Hodge, who was at the helm. “We battled with Hula Girl (a Ranger 23 out of St. Petersburg) to the second mark where they took the lead. They tacked to starboard looking for more speed and tacked back to the finish with a one-boat lead. We finished within seconds and corrected over them for the win. Good boat, good crew, good wind and close competition makes for a great day,” Hodge said.
In Motherlode A, Mike Cronin of Ruskin took Flagship, his Catalina 350 to a first-place finish. Winning was a total surprise! It was a crush of boats at the finish and I just couldn't tell how we fared. I had two experienced crew members, and one of them sails a boat just like mine. We had a clean bottom and prop, the boat was well prepared. Good winds, it was a gorgeous day.” George Haynie of Tampa sailed Yes Dear, a Beneteau 423, to second.
Top honors in Motherlode B went to Cal Adams of Apollo Beach on Snowbird, his Hunter 27. “It was a perfect day for us – never had a downhill run, We did have a broad reach, good winds and we were pleased with how the boat sailed. But, I would say we were statistically handicapped: all three on board are in our 80s.” Wildfire, an Irwin MKII, sailed by Len Berkstresser came in second.
On Friday evening, following the skippers meeting, many enjoyed refreshments and songs performed by Paul Phillips.
After the racing Saturday, the racers, club members, friends and families enjoyed a fine dinner and the awards. Meanwhile, music and dancing to The Island Boys, a steel drum band, kept the party alive in the warm night air. And, in that vein, principal race sponsor, Sailor Jerry Rum, helped keep spirits high.
Hula Girl skipper Steve Short, of St. Petersburg, and his crew celebrate winning an award for the best pirate atire at the awards banquet following the regatta.
Photo by CLAIRE WHITTENBERT
Place, Yacht Name, Yacht Type, Owner/Skipper, City, Results, Total Points
Annual Gasparilla Regatta Course
PHRF - Spinnaker (PHRF - 4 Boats)
1. Junior, J 27, Frank Selph, Jr , Tampa, - 1 - 1 - 1 ; 3
2. Ragged Edge, J 24, Dan Kresge , Apollo Beach, - 2 - 2 - 2 ; 6
3. Mahalo, Olson 25, Pat Lawler , Apollo Beach, FL, USA, - 3 - 3 - 3 ; 9
4. Agua Mala, Capri 22, Oscar Rivas , Ruskin, FL, USA, - 5/DNS - 5/DNS - 5/DNS ; 15
PHRF - Non-Spinnaker (PHRF - 3 Boats)
1. Claim Weeks, Ericson 23, Darin O'Neal , Riverview - 2 - 1 - 1 ; 4
2. Shrew, Creekmore, Geno Dinisio , Sun City Center - 1 - 2 - 2 ; 5
3. Slippery When Wet, San Juan 28, Edwin Plotts, Apollo Beach - 3 - 3 - 3 ; 9
PHRF - Racer/Cruiser (PHRF - 2 Boats)
1. Wing It, Irwin 39 Citation CB, Mike & Lesa Doyle, Tampa - 1 ; 1
2. Tigress, Abbott 33, Ed & Scott Peters , Apollo Beach - 2 ; 2
PHRF - Cruising B Non-Spinnaker (PHRF - 8 Boats)
1. Stargazer, Cal 2-27, Raymond Dupuis , Lithia - 1 ; 1
2. Hula Girl, Ranger 23, Steve Shortt , St. Petersburg - 2 ; 2
3. Amber Looe, Beneteau First 235, Michael Reed , St Petersburg - 3 ; 3
4. Legacy, Catalina 310, Dave Roberts , Clearwater - 4 ; 4
5. The Force, Beneteau 311, William Mann , Valrico - 5 ; 5
6. Low Tide, Tartan 26, Anastasia Bryant , Tampa - 6 ; 6
7. Play Actor, Baba, Paul Phillips , Valrico - 7 ; 7
8. Gasconade, Spindrift, Lyda Brown , Valrico - 8 ; 8
PHRF - Cruising A Non-Spinnaker (PHRF - 7 Boats)
1. Apollo Breeze, S2 7.9, Robert McChesney, Apollo Beach - 1 ; 1
2. Guppie-S, Catalina 320, Herbert Wittnebert , Apollo Beach - 2 ; 2
3. Bodacious-S, Hunter 340, Greg Johnson, Brandon - 3 ; 3
4. Galene, Beneteau 361, Gerard Gaudry, Clearwater - 4 ; 4
5. Triumph, Catalina 350, Bill Cullen, Temple Terrace - 5 ; 5
6. Wind Dancer - S, Catalina 36 TM, Gary Spainhour, Apollo Beach - 8/DNF ; 8
7. Surge, Compass 47, Charles Archer , St. Petersburg - 8/DNS ; 8
PHRF - Doublehanded (PHRF - 2 Boats)
1. MaryBs (S), Catalina 22, Joe Benkel , Palmetto - 1 ; 1
2. Pilgrim, Pearson 30, Kent Bailey , Thonotosassa - 2 ; 2
PHRF - Mother Load A (PHRF - 8 Boats)
1. FlagShip, Catalina 350, Michael Cronin , Ruskin - 1 ; 1
2. Yes Dear, Beneteau 423, George Haynie , Tampa - 2 ; 2
3. Endless Summer, Westsail 32, Marc Holtzberg , Tampa - 3 ; 3
4. Another Road, Heritage 36, Tim Ruman , Plant City - 4 ; 4
5. Manava, Hunter Legend, David Webb , Sun City Center - 9/DNS ; 9
6. Knot Home, Catalina 320, Patricia Claytor , Riverview - 9/DNS ; 9
7. La Vie Dansante, Morgan 38-2, Timothy Keogh, Apollo Beach - 9/DNS ; 9
Motherlode B (PHRF - 9 Boats)
1. Snowbird, Hunter 27, Calvin Adams , Apollo Beach - 1 ; 1
2. Wildfire, Irwin MKII, Len Berkstresser , Ruskin - 2 ; 2
3. Carapace, Pearson Wanderer, Wesley Shaw, Apollo Beach - 3 ; 3
4. Breezin, Ericson, Jim Allen, Riverview - 4 ; 4
5. Penny Luffer, O'Day, Penny Bartenstein, Apollo Beach - 5 ; 5
6. Still Sofa King, Morgan 44, Robi Robinson , Tampa, FL - USA, 6 ; 6
7. Mac 16, Hunter 28, Bob Varney , Lakeland - 10/DNF ; 10
8. Patchez, San Juan 21, Michael Sheridan, Apollo Beach - 10/DNS ; 10
9. Chels-A-Bella, Catalina 30, Ron DaSilva , Apollo Beach - 10/DNS ; 10