News notes - Florida and the South

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Floridians set the pace at Super Boat Grand Prix

Piloting a 3,800-hp, turbine-powered catamaran, Florida offshore powerboat racers Marc Granet and Scott Begovich posted the fastest average speed of the fleet at the Marathon Super Boat Grand Prix in Florida Keys.

Granet, of St. PetersburgBeach, and Begovich, of Jupiter, averaged a blistering 103.61 mph around the 11-lap, 61-total-mile course that routed under both the modern and historic Seven Mile Bridges. Their speeds on the short straightaway approached 160 mph.

“It will definitely get your heart pumping,” says Granet of driving between the supports that hold up roadbed on both bridges. “There’s always anxiety and as you go through; you’re always checking and double-checking yourself.”

Miccosukee Indian Gaming, with Brett Lee Furshman of Coral Springs, Fla., and Wyatt Fountain of Washington, N.C., won the Super Vee class.

Predator, with Dennis De La Torre of Key Largo, Fla., Tommy Hoffstetter of Fort Lauderdale, and Gabriel Pacheco of Tavernier, Fla., won the Manufacturer Production II class.

J.P. Motorsports, owned by Pat Mumper of North Port, Fla., garnered top honors in the Manufacturer Production IV class; and Rum Runners, owned by Bobbie Kieber of Big Pine Key, Fla., won the Production V class.

Offshore racing returns to the Florida Keys Nov. 4 to 11 with the Key West World Championship. www.superboat.com

Coast Guard revives storm flag program

The Coast Guard is re-establishing a Coastal Warning Display (Storm Flag) program at selected Coast Guard boat stations throughout the U.S to warn the public of approaching storm conditions.

Coast Guard stations participated in the National Weather Service’s official Coastal Warning Display program for over 100 years along with yacht clubs and marinas until it was discontinued in 1989.

“For everyone living along the coast these storm flags serve as a visible reminder of the destruction that can be wrought by nature; especially as we head into this year’s hurricane season,” says Rear Adm. David Pekoske, assistant commandant for operations. “Storm flags are a nautical tradition for mariners and the Coast Guard is pleased to bring back this part of our maritime heritage.”

Starting June 1, the first day of hurricane season, selected boat stations hoisted display flags to warn of small craft advisories, gale warnings, storm warnings and hurricane warnings. Residents of coastal communities are urged to tune to National Weather Service radio broadcasts for the latest information when they observe a flag hoisted as part of this program.

The Coast Guard plans to have a minimum of 37 stations participate. The first stations to activate the program are located in Shinnecock, N.Y.; Atlantic City, N.J.; Merrimack River and Chatham, Mass.; Georgetown and Charleston, S.C.; Tybee Island and Brunswick, Ga.; and in Florida, Mayport, Ponce de Leon, Port Canaveral, Fort Pierce, Lake Worth Inlet, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami Beach, Key West, Marathon and Islamorada. Stations in Sandy Hook, N.J.; New Haven, Conn.; and Jones Beach, N.Y., may soon come on line.

The flags are not intended to preclude mariners from taking necessary precautions as soon as possible to protect their vessel and crews.

Mariners are encouraged to visit www.uscg.mil/news/stormcenter for suggestions on how to prepare their vessels ahead of a storm.

Artist settles in Bahamian resort

HeritageVillage in Bimini, which includes Big John’s Hotel & Conch Shell Bar and Browns Hotel & Marina, features casual island living quarters nestled in the harbor entrance of historic Alice Town. The resort recently announced the arrival of celebrated pop artist Romero Britto, who has agreed to several joint ventures.

• The launch of “Britto’s Hideaway” inside Big John’s Hotel is a customized room clad in the artist’s signature décor. The room will serve as Britto’s own hideaway between international travels. When the Brazilian-born Britto is away, the “Britto’s Hideaway” room can be booked by hotel guests for the standard room rate of $110 to $130 a night.

• Britto has plans to unveil his tribute to the legendary Ernest Hemingway — a sculpture of the acclaimed author and fisherman who penned “Islands in the Stream” during his stay in Bimini. The statue will be on display to the public at Big John’s Conch Shell Bar & Lounge.

• The new Browns Marina, which opened in May, will feature a Britto-

decorated, Dockmaster’s House. The hut will serve as a blank canvas for an original Britto work. Viewed from across the water, the colorful landmark will become a beacon for visitors and locals alike.

“I am thrilled about the opportunity to serve as an artistic guide for exciting new projects such as Big John’s and Browns which promise to revitalize historic Alice Town,” says Britto, whose optimistic art brings bright colors and an airy appreciation for life to the beautiful beaches of Bimini. www.britto.com ; www.brownshotelandmarina.com

Fairchild wins ChampBoat opener

Chris Fairchild of Paw Paw, Ill., won the Grand Prix of Augusta ChampBoat Series tunnel boat race May 20, on the Savannah River in Augusta, Ga. ChampBoat Series tunnel boat racing returned to Augusta after a 10-year hiatus. The race was the season opener for the 2007 nine-race ChampBoat Series.

Fairchild’s victory ended defending ChampBoat Series champion Terry Rinker’s world record of seven consecutive Champ class victories, which capped a perfect 2006 season and his second straight ChampBoat Series championship.

Pole sitter Shaun Torrente of Miami was beaten to the first lap flag by veteran teammate Todd Bowden of Monrovia, Calif. Bowden’s lead was short-lived, however, when mechanical problems forced him to retire from the course midway through the 50-lap race. Torrente fought hard to hold off the hard charging Fairchild, but couldn’t keep him at bay.

“Chris had his boat dialed-in today and he drove a great race; he deserves the win,” stated Torrente. “It was either crash trying or win.”

Terry Rinker of Tampa, Fla., Wyatt Nelson of Syracuse, N.Y., and Tim Seebold of Osage Beach, Mo., rounded out 3-5. All were powered by Mercury Racing 2.5-Liter EFI Champ race outboards. www.champboatracing.com

New cruising course for two

The OffshoreSailingSchool, Fort Myers, Fla., is offering a new weeklong learning opportunity for couples who want to learn together, alone. The Private Cruising Course for Two provides the skills to share all tasks aboard and individually take command with confidence. The course is based at the Pink Shell Beach Resort & Spa in Fort MyersBeach.

This program, which affords total privacy for a couple in a spacious aft-cabin on the school’s new Hunter 41, is available as a Live Aboard Cruising course or as the shore-based Bareboat Cruising Preparation course.

Everything learned emphasizes how to handle a larger cruising yacht alone or with a partner; how to dock, anchor and pick up moorings; tack and jibe; recover a person overboard seamlessly; navigate with charts and GPS; recognize and react to other boats’ lights at night; handle heavy weather and groundings; check and maintain the engine, electrical and mechanical systems aboard; sail with ease and comfort in any conditions and so much more.

The couple will gain two certifications and the knowledge and skills to charter cruising yachts or sail off on their own at a cost of $5,500 per couple.

For more information, contact OffshoreSailingSchool at (800) 221-4326 or visit the school’s Web site at www.offshoresailing.com .

Hinckley Co. names new CEO

The board of directors of The Hinckley Company has named James P. McManus the new president and chief executive officer of the Maine-based yacht manufacturer. He is scheduled to assume his new duties in July.

A native New Englander, McManus is a graduate of YaleUniversity and the HarvardBusinessSchool. He has worked in corporate finance with Lehman Brothers and management consulting with McKinsey & Company. While at the Aramark Corporation, he served as president of several operating divisions until finally heading Aramark’s largest group, the Business Services Group with $2.3 billion in revenue.

He comes to Hinckley from Zoots Corporation, the largest and fastest-growing dry cleaning chain in the country with 78 service sites and 300,000 customers, of which he is president and CEO.

“As a lifelong avid boater, Jim fully appreciates the high quality and craftsmanship of Hinckley yachts,” says Hinckley’s chairman of the board, Ralph Willard.

McManus lives in Newton, Massachusetts and Block Island, Rhode Island with his wife Robin and their three children.

McManus replaces Gerry DiSchino, who died unexpectedly at his home March 10.

Fishing seminar series lauded for leadership

The “Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing!” seminar series and its founder, Betty Bauman, received the Individual of the Year award from Week of the Ocean, a marine education program based in Fort Lauderdale.

Week of the Ocean selected LLGF, for leading the country in producing programs that welcome women into the sports of fishing and boating.

Recognized by the National Marine Educators Association, National Week of the Ocean is a grassroots program designed to promote appreciation, protection and responsible use of the ocean.

The 2007 LLGF schedule includes a ladies-only trip to Alaska on July 30 - Aug. 3. Fall dates are Islamorada, Fla. on Sept. 14 to 16 and St. Petersburg, Fla., Oct. 12 to 14. LLGA also offers memberships in local chapters in Florida.

The $135 seminars ($150 Islamorada), include instruction, use of equipment and hands-on training. For information, call (954) 475-9068, e-mail billfishbetty@hotmail.com or visit www.ladiesletsgofishing.com .

Beach resort offers discounts, free night

Fort Myers Beach, Fla.-based Offshore Sailing School has expanded its learning vacation opportunities with an agreement with the Pink Shell Beach Resort & Spa. The Gulf of Mexico waterfront resort has become a magnet for family getaways, especially sailing vacations.

Those who take an Offshore Sailing School Learn to Sail course in August, September or October at the Pink Shell will receive $100 off the total package for each person and a free night added to their stay. Every Learn to Sail course includes a free practice sail without the instructor aboard. The added night delivers an extra day of sailing at no extra charge.

Families of four who take the Fast Track to Cruising course in July or August will save $500 per person in this fast-paced program, taking families from novice to ready-to-cruise in just eight days. The package includes the three-day Learn to Sail course on a Colgate 26 and five-day Bareboat Cruising Preparation course on a Hunter 41.

To take advantage of these offers, bookings must be made prior to July 15 and the courses completed in July or August 2007.

For more information, contact Offshore Sailing School at (800) 221-4326 or visit the school’s Web site at www.offshoresailing.com .

Hutchengs receives Golden Anchor Award

The Marine Industries Association of South Florida has honored industry veteran Hutch Hutchengs with the 2007 Golden Anchor Award, which recognizes an individual for a lifetime of achievement and extraordinary accomplishment benefiting the marine industry.

In addition, industry professionals and MIASF members John Phillips of Antibes Yachtwear and Sabrina Farmer of International Maritime Associates, along with MIASF partner Jack Garofano of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, were honored with an Award of Excellence.

“Each of these award recipients has positively impacted the marine industry in a unique way and helped contribute to the continued success of both the industry and the MIASF,” said Frank Herhold, executive director of MIASF. “It is an honor to recognize them and their accomplishments.”

Hutchengs’ influence is felt throughout the industry as a result of his time as a broker at Ardell Yacht and Ship Brokers as well as at the helm of Hatteras of Lauderdale, Stuart Hatteras and Allied Miami, where he helped start the Bertram-Hatteras Shoot-Out sportfishing tournament and began some of the first dealer sponsored cruises.

World record becomes official

Ralph Brown of Spring Hill, Fla., and Bob Brown of Merritt Island, Fla., were recognized by the World Record Academy as being the holders of a new record: the longest unescorted oceanic crossing of a flats boat.

A flats boat by definition is a single engine (trolling motors don’t count), low-profile, open fishing boat, that can operate in less than 1 foot of water. This particular flats boat, the Intruder 21, made by the brothers’ company, Dream Boats, can operate in less than 6 inches of water.

Many smaller boats have made a longer trip, but they have had either a keel, considerably more freeboard, a cabin, sail or an escort.

The Brown brothers departed from Atlantic Beach, N.C. at 9:15 a.m., April 30, arriving in Bermuda around 1 p.m. May 2. They departed Bermuda May 9 at 9:30 a.m. and arrived in New York Harbor at 3:15 p.m. May 11, where they received a ticket from an officer for the U.S. Park Police around Ellis Island. The brothers say they accidentally ventured into restricted waters.

More details can be obtained from the World Record Academy’s Web site: www.worldrecordsacademy.org .

Yacht groups to join forces

The International Yacht Restoration School and The Museum of Yachting, both in Newport, R.I., have taken a first step toward a convergence. Following a year of discussions, the boards of both organizations signed a memorandum of understanding that outlines a structure for bringing the two nationally known non-profits together. IYRS and the museum are currently fine-tuning the specifics of their convergence, with a goal toward having a final agreement in place later this summer.

“Many great schools are connected to a museum or cultural center. While a school may be focused on educating students and advancing research, a museum can take that knowledge to a wider public,” says John Mecray, marine artist and co-founding trustee of both IYRS and The Museum of Yachting. “I see IYRS and the museum working together in a number of ways: we can coordinate restorations and exhibitions, or target projects and displays. With the right planning and creativity, we can make yachting’s colorful history come alive — both for those who live here, and for the many people who visit Newport.”

Both organizations will publish updates on this news in their member communications. For more information on IYRS, visit www.iyrs.org . For more information on The Museum of Yachting, visit www.museumofyachting.org .

New dates for St. Pete boat show

The dates for the 30th Annual St. Petersburg Boat Show, the Gulf Coast’s largest boat show, have been changed to Nov. 29 through Dec. 2. The show venue remains at the Bayfront Center Yacht Basin.

“Always looking to improve our efforts, we’ve been working with the marine industries and dealers on the West Coast to determine the best time period to stage the boat show,” says Chuck Bolt, show manager for Show Management — producers of the event. “It was unanimous that holding the show the weekend following Thanksgiving would be the most advantageous time.”

The St. Petersburg Boat Show will feature more than 500 boats from the region’s best-known dealers, in water and on land, along with engines, electronics and an array of accessories. www.showmanagement.com

Rivolta Yachts more widely available

American Global Yacht Group, with offices in Annapolis, Md., and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., announced it will now serve as a dealer for Sarasota-based Rivolta Yachts.

A complete yacht development company, AGYG will provide new construction, brokerage and sales for Rivolta’s Renzo line of yachts, including the Coupe 4.0, Coupe 4.5, Express 4.0 and PT Runner 4.0.

Rivolta’s production line blends classic Italian styling with cutting-edge technology. All Renzo vessels boast a combination of speed, luxury and practicality, featuring secure handling at speeds over 30 knots; spacious accommodations above and below deck; and versatility. All are available in standard or luxury editions with the option of traditional prop or sophisticated jet drive systems.

“We are thrilled with the ability to offer our customers such a fine production line as Rivolta,” said Fred Azar, principal, American Global Yacht Group. “Rivolta’s legacy of design, luxury and innovation makes it the perfect addition to our ever-growing family.”

In addition to Renzo yachts by Rivolta, AGYG provides new construction, brokerage and sales for a premiere product line that includes Molokai Strait Expedition Yachts, Outer Reef Yachts, and Dutch-made Elling motoryachts.

For information, including pricing and specifications visit www.agyg.com .