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NOOD regatta series kicks off in St. Pete

The National Offshore One Design regatta series started the season strong with 221 boats in 21 divisions in St. Petersburg, Fla., in February. The Melges 24s boasted the largest fleet in the event and Annapolis sailor John Bertrand, a former

Olympic and America’s Cup sailor, took the class by storm with his boat Fusion M. Bertrand finished no worse than third in the fleet of 45 and took four bullets out of the seven races. The finish gave his crew the first of nine berths in the NOOD Caribbean Rendezvous, a new year-end NOOD event featuring the top-performing boat at each of the events across the country.

Doug Fisher of Sarasota, Fla., finished second in the Melges 24 class, and local sailor Martin Kullman finished third.

The Florida natives took 10 of the 21 classes at the regatta, beating out competitors from 23 states, the United Kingdom and Canada.

Tim Snow of St. Pete Beach, Fla., won the SR Max class with St. Petersburg native Josh Wilus and Charlie Clifton of Sarasota, Fla., in second and third, respectively.

In the J/105 SD class, Steve and Dee Olinger of St. Petersburg won the class. The J/29 class named Ethan Bixby of St. Petersburg champion with five bullets and three second-place finishes.

The contingent from Naples, Fla., made its hometown proud with wins by James Doane in the J/105 class and Andy Roedig in the Corsair 24s.

Peter Bram of Jacksonville, Fla., won the 28-boat J/24 class, topping Robby Brown of St. Petersburg and Kenneth Gray of East Grand Rapids, Mich.

Other class winners included Thomas Single of Lakeland, Fla., in the Level 72s, Juan Mauri of Crowley, Texas, in the Hobie 33s, Jeff Sampson of Ferndale, Mich., in the Tartan 10s, Michael Elliot of Liden, Mich., in the S2 7.9 class and Jeffrey Guice of Ocean Springs, Miss., in the Soverel 33s.

In the Sonars, John Robertson of the United Kingdom nearly swept the class with five of eight wins. The Level 96-105 winner was Valeri Safiullin of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and the Wavelength 24 winner was Matt Patterson of Plano, Texas. The Olson 30 class was won by Fred McConnel of Atlanta and the J/22s crowned Mark Salih of Salinas, Calif., the winner. William Zehner of Panama City, Fla., won the Tripp 26 class, Brad Boston of Ontario won the Ultimate 20s and Robert Remmers of Buda, Fla., won the Corsair 28 fleet.

Farr 40 Worlds held in Sydney

Richard Perini’s Evolution won the Rolex Farr 40 Worlds, held March 1 to 4 in Sydney, Australia, by a hair’s breadth from fellow Aussie Neville Crichton on Shockwave. With both teams finishing equal on 66 points, it was Evolution’s race win in the windy conditions two days earlier that gave her overall victory ahead of Shockwave. And just a point further behind the two Aussies was the Italian boat TWT, whose sixth-place in the final race dragged her right back into contention.

Evolution extended her lead from Day 3 of just 1 point to a much healthier 12 points going into the last race, thanks to scores of 9-2. The championship seemed all but secured for Perini, but the wind had reached its most unpredictable for the finale.

Evolution did not have a great first beat, and rounded the windward mark in 15th, 10 places behind Shockwave and three behind TWT. By the leeward gate Evolution pulled up to 13th, just two behind TWT and seven behind Shockwave.

Neville Crichton’s boat did herself no favors by yielding four places up the final beat to round in 10th place, with TWT among those to have overtaken her. But Evolution was having a terrible time of the conditions, falling to 19th. The boat was still leading the championship but she could not afford any more mistakes. However, the final run saw her fall to 21st as she lurched her way toward the finish from out to sea. Seven seconds further back and Perini would have come third overall.

So close was the championship that Perini says it was a good 10 minutes after the finish before he knew he had won the Rolex Farr 40 Worlds. “We like keeping the crowds in suspense,” said a much-relieved Perini afterwards, who admitted he hadn’t enjoyed the last race one bit.

American boats Warpath (Steve and Fred Howe) and Barking Mad (Jim Richardson) finished fourth and sixth, respectively. www.cyca.com.au

Record-setting run for Pineapple Cup

A new course record was set in the 2005 Pineapple Cup Montego Bay Race in early February by Titan 12, a 75-foot Reichel/Pugh-design yacht from Puerto Rico owned by Tom Hill.

The record of 2 days, 10 hours, 24 minutes, 42 seconds did not assure Titan the victory as the rest of the fleet trickled into Montego Bay. Stuart Hebb’s (Coral Gables, Fla.) Aerodyne 38, Thin Ice and its eight-man team, which also won its class (PHRF B), included 2004 470 Men’s class Olympic gold medalist Kevin Burnham (Miami). Thin Ice was followed by Esmerelda, a Transpac 52 owned by Makoto Uematsu of Japan.

This is the second time in as many races that the record was shattered for the famous race to Jamaica through the Windward Passage. In 2003 Zephyrus V broke the long-standing record and created a division for water-ballasted boats to win the Pineapple Cup. Nine boats beat the Zephyrus record this year.

The weather for the race made course conditions ideal for records. The fleet saw 25 knots of breeze out of the north during the first day out of Fort Lauderdale and were able to ride the front all the way into Montego Bay.

The popular Pineapple Cup Montego Bay Race (formerly known as the Miami - Montego Bay Race) has attracted prestigious international entries since its inception in 1961. This classic ocean race is run biennially (on the odd year) under the management of a joint race committee of the Storm Trysail Club, the Montego Bay Yacht Club and the Jamaica Yachting Association. Skippers, crews and boats, in IRC and PHRF divisions challenge the course of 811 nautical miles to vie for the Pineapple Cup, awarded for best overall performance, the IRC Class Seahorse trophy, the PHRF Arawak trophies, and the Windward Passage Challenge Cup, awarded for breaking the course record. The course from Florida, through the islands of the Bahamas and the Windward Passage to Montego Bay is a classic beat, reach and run, providing different challenges and conditions along the route. www.montegobayrace.com