Like Rodney Dangerfield, the summer sailing events on Tampa Bay, FL, often don't get enough respect or participation. But with the prevailing drought conditions and corresponding lack of afternoon thunderstorms changing the typical light-air weather patterns this June, racers who stayed away from the TransBay Charity Regatta missed a near-perfect day on the water and a chance to raise some much-needed funds in the process.
Sailing for the Epilepsy Services Foundation charities in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, a record number of boats competed in six divisions on a picture-perfect day on Tampa Bay. According to race chairman Vic Gittens, "It was our largest fleet ever—36 boats."
George Cussins' J/105 Fire & Ice
, competing in the spinnaker division, and Dick Ware's Cal 25 Moonraker
in the non-spinnaker division, were the top awards winners, taking honors in their respective classes as well as overall honors in the spinnaker and non-spinnaker divisions. For Cussins, who lives in Apollo Beach and sails out of the Tampa Sailing Squadron, it was his first win at a major regatta on the bay in a boat he has owned just over a year.
"For a significant regatta, it was our first win," Cussins said happily. And one of his crew, Anne Nichols, said the win was particularly important since she and Cussins plan to be married in two weeks. "We thank you for this wedding present," she said while picking up the first-place trophy."
Fire & Ice managed to shadow Mike Siedlecki's rack-equipped Martin 242 Tack Tick for most of the race, never letting the more radical Martin put enough time on the shoal-draft J/boat to cover its PHRF 60 rating. Cussins and company finished some three minutes behind Siedlecki, but they corrected out to the top spot by a 35-second margin.
Conditions for the event were ideal with eight to 12 knots of warm-but-shifty breeze over the seven-and-one-half-mile course. What the course lacked in imagination—each of the three legs turned out to be upwind as the breeze continually clocked—it compensated for with some not-so-subtle windshifts that presented the fleet with opportunities for huge gains. The fleet started on the west side of Tampa Bay near St. Petersburg, sailed northeast, then turned right to the finish line at Apollo Beach on the east side of the bay.
The action in Spinnaker B Class saw Rich Gahn's J/24 Grayling slip past Ken Roy's custom half-tonner Star Dust by just enough to post a seven-second winning margin after almost two hours on the racecourse. Only two seconds separated the third-place Bull Frog and the fourth-place Amanda.
The non-spinnaker winners had an easier time as Richard Neal's 1999-2000 Suncoast Non-spinnaker Boat of the Year Back Off dusted the competition. Based out of St. Petersburg, Back-Off, a Soverel 33, won the race by more than five minutes over the B-30 Eagle, skippered by Walton Byars, Jr.
But the laurels in the non-spinnaker division belong to Dick Ware, whose ageless Moonraker, also a past winner of Boat of the Year honors, turned in the best time in the fleet while also taking the honors in non-spinnaker Class E over Ken Wilus' Ranger 23 Cake Walk.
Among the three multihulls that were competing under the Florida Offshore Multihull Association format, Rich Carlson drove the F-27 triSouthwinds to top honors in this class.
The TransBay Charity Regatta owes its success to the cooperative efforts of three local clubs—the St. Petersburg Sailing Association, Davis Island Yacht Club, and Tampa Sailing Squadron. The event stands out on the regional sailing schedule not only as the last major regatta of the sailing season (which began in September), but also as the area's lone charity event. Past regattas that benefited the Leukemia Society and local Hospice organizations have been dropped from the local schedule.
Now in its seventh year, this regatta serves as a fundraiser for epilepsy foundations in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties with the goal of sending children with epilepsy to a special camp in central Florida. According to Barbara Bowman of the Epilepsy Services Foundation, the regatta has raised several thousand dollars each year. She said the race, along with a running event later in the year, will help send 18 kids to the camp.
Addressing the sailors at the awards ceremony, Tom Orth of the Epilepsy Services Foundation thanked the participants and said, "We're glad you had a fun event, and glad you went out of your way for two charities."
|TransBay Charity Regatta Final Results |
|Spinnaker A ||1. ||Fire & Ice/Cussins |
|2. ||Tack Tick/Siedlecki |
|3. ||Mother Ocean/Gress |
|4. ||Forerunner/Selph, Sr. |
|5. ||Dynamo Humm/Drinkwine |
|6. ||Junior/Selph, Jr. |
|7. ||Twisted Fate/Bozeman |
|Spinnaker B ||1. ||Grayling/Gahn |
|2. ||Star Dust/Roy |
|3. ||Bull Frog/Rabbitt |
|4. ||Amanda/Barber |
|5. ||Odyssey/Griffin |
|6. ||Jackal/Davidson |
|7. ||Shrew/DiNisio |
|8. ||Thumper/Gittens |
|Non-Spinnaker D ||1. ||Back Off/Neal |
|2. ||Eagle/Byars, Jr. |
|3. ||Fever/Pilot |
|4. ||Fadan Go/Mahoney |
|5. ||Angelina/Viszt |
|Non-Spinnaker E ||1. ||Moonraker/Ware |
|2. ||Cake Walk/Wilus |
|3. ||Thunder/Fraser |
|4. ||AboutTime/Meyer |
|5. ||Sabre Dance/Marafiote |
|6. ||Bay Wolf/Lang |
|Non-Spinnaker F ||1. ||Moon Dance/Arnold |
|2. ||Lagniappe/O'Neal |
|3. ||Gotcha/Peterson |
|4. ||Gigogne/Borror |
|FOMA ||1. ||tri Southwinds/Carlson-Cushing |
|2. ||Nice Pair/Jones |
|3. ||Stiletto/Steakley |