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."
"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.
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."