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Sail Scene – Florida

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Bitter End YC hosts Pro Am Regatta Week

With the warm, tranquil blue waters of the Caribbean as the course for the only event of its kind in the world, America’s Cup skippers, Olympic medalists, Around the World Race winners and world champions will gather at Bitter End Yacht Club in the British Virgin Islands, Oct. 28 to Nov. 4, to lead teams made up of resort guests in a weeklong competition for the top Pro Am Regatta honors.

This event will allow amateurs to maximize on-water experience with the pros as well as enjoy a lively social schedule with fellow sailors off the water.

In celebration of the 20th anniversary, the Pro Am Invitational, as it was first called, is returning to the format used for the first five years: a unique combination of fleet racing and match racing. For 2006 all 10 skippers, juniors and masters and their teams will take part in an eight- to 10-race fleet series, establishing the seeds for head-to-head match racing. The best of two-out-of-three race finals between the last two seeds standing will determine an overall winner. Bitter End’s fleets of Freedom 30s and Hunter 216s will be used for match racing.

This year IC 24s will be making their Pro Am debut as the fleet race boat. However, the showstopper for this year’s event will be the high-octane rivalry between three-time America’s Cup winner Russell Coutts and Round the World Race winner Paul Cayard, as their Pro Am crews hit the open waters of the Caribbean. In addition to Pro Am racing, Coutts and Cayard will race against each other, with one guest crewmember along for the ride, aboard matched Hobie Getaways for North Sound bragging rights. This exhibition match race will raise funds for the Hokin Scholarship fund.

In addition to Coutts and Cayard, professional participants include Ken Read, two-time Pro Am winner, two-time Rolex Yachtsman of the Year, five-time J/24 World Champion and Etchells World Champion; Dawn Riley, Whitbread and America’s Cup veteran, president of the Women’s Sports Foundation and America True; Dave Perry, one of the best-known sailors of the last 30 years, both as a world-class racer, and as an author and educator; Lowell North, Founder of North Sails and Olympic Gold Medalist; Keith Musto, 2005 Pro Am winner, the United Kingdom’s best-known dinghy sailor and Olympic Medalist; Rod Johnstone, 1st Annual Pro Am host, 2000 Pro Am winner and J-boat designer; Bruce Kirby, 1st Annual Pro Am host, two-time World Champion in I-14s, two-time Canadian Olympian, father of the Laser, Sonar and Ideal 18 and penned America’s Cup racers for Canada; and Butch Ulmer, 1999 Pro Am winner and founder of UK Sails.

Floridians win gold at Germany’s Kiel Week

Skipper Mark Mendelblatt of St. Petersburg, Fla., and his crew, Mark Strube of West Palm Beach, Fla., won a gold medal in the Star Class at the 2006 Kiel Week in Kiel, Germany, one of the largest sailing events in the world.

Mendelblatt and Strube beat longtime rival and multiple Kiel Week-winner Robert Scheidt and his crew, Bruno Prada, from Brazil. The event, ranked by the International Sailing Federation as a Grade 1 event, attracted more than 5,000 sailors from 49 countries.

The medal races concluded five days of racing for the 11 Olympic classes. For the final day of racing, sailors faced excellent weather conditions, with about 10 to 15 knots of wind.

Mendelblatt and Strube faced tight competition in the Star Class. Despite coming off what Strube described as a bad start, they came out third at the first mark. It was tight coming out of the first run, but after Brazil’s Scheidt received a penalty, the American team pushed ahead. Going into the last race, five boats were in a position to win the event, as they were all within five points of each other, but Mendelblatt and Strube prevailed.

Strube said the competition was tight the entire regatta, and the sheer amount of competitors — 49 boats sailed in the Star class — made the win that much more exciting.

Prior to Kiel Week, the team only trained one week together on the new boat. Once they adjusted to the new boat and corrected their mistakes, they were able to move ahead. This win marked Mendelblatt and Strube’s first gold medal at a major European regatta, after finishing second at the Star Eastern Hemisphere Championships in April in Naples, Italy.

Dates set for Rolex Regatta

The 34th International Rolex Regatta, hosted by St. Thomas Yacht Club, is scheduled for March 23 to 25, 2007.

An annual favorite on the Caribbean racing calendar, the three-day event features handicap and one-design racing benefiting from professional race management, dependable trade winds, and a varied and challenging schedule of races — including both windward-leeward and distance courses — on the sapphire-blue waters surrounding the archipelago of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Beachside social activities blend St. Thomas Yacht Club’s island-style hospitality with the outstanding camaraderie and competition that hundreds of participants have come to expect each year.

“All sailors can count on cool breeze, warm water and a splash of rum,” said regatta co-director John Sweeney. “Every year we have a well-rounded fleet, ranging from small cats to maxis, with sailors from all walks of life and levels of experience. For 2007 we’re working to add classes for Farr 40s, Melges 32s and Swan 45s.” www.rolexcupregatta.com

More than $200K raised at Wall Street Cup

Teams of corporate executives traded their business suits and briefcases for life jackets and sailing gear to raise more than $200,000 for Shake-A-Leg-Newport during the Wall Street Corporate Challenge Cup.

Hosted at the Newport Shipyard July 7-8, the 15th annual regatta drew executives from the financial and legal world for two days of racing aboard the legendary America’s Cup 12 Meter yachts. Proceeds — each of the teams raised $30,000 to participate in the regatta — will support Shake-A-Leg’s varied programs for people with spinal cord injuries and nervous system dysfunction.

Team Mellon Financial Corporation (Boston) won the six-race series with Proskauer Rose (New York City) in second place and Parker/Vectrix, a partnership of Parker Hannifin (Cleveland) and Vectrix, Inc. (Newport, R.I.), in third.

“We were a little surprised that we won, but it’s awesome,” says Justin Scott of Mellon Financial Corporation. “Everyone was working together; the boat ran smoother. We had a fast boat, Freedom, and that really helped us to win.”

Rounding out the finishers were Latham & Watkins (New York City) in fourth; KBC Financial Products (New York City) in fifth; MBIA (Armonk, N.Y.) in sixth; Wachovia Capital Markets (Charlotte, N.C.) in seventh; Debevoise & Plimpton (New York City) in eighth; and Bear Stearns (New York City) in ninth place. www.shakealeg.org

Breeze-less Etchells European Championship

The final race of the Etchells European Championship in Cowes, England had to be abandoned for lack of breeze on the Solent, leaving the regatta to Stuart Childerley and his crew after six races at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club.

Childerley and his crew Simon Russell and Roger Marino won the regatta by 7 points. Second went to Andy Beadsworth, crewed by Jonathan Taylor and Mo Gray, who finished just one point ahead of Ante Razmilovic, crewed by Mike Wolfs and Stuart Flinn. Tom Hughes and crew Jamie Stewart and Ron Rosenberg of the United States were fifth.

The Etchells class will return to Cowes for its 2007 World Championship.

A brief homecoming for America’s Cup

The America’s Cup and Louis Vuitton Cup trophies returned to Europe June 20 after spending a week in New York City.

The visit to the United States was a homecoming for the America’s Cup trophy, which spent 132 years (from 1851 to 1983) in the New York Yacht Club trophy room.

The Louis Vuitton Cup has a shorter history in the Big Apple — it was won by Australia II at the first opportunity in Newport in 1983 and has since been competed for in Fremantle, Australia, San Diego, Auckland, New Zealand and now Valencia, Spain.

Beginning June 22, the first day of racing in Louis Vuitton Act 12, the trophies will take up position in the Port America’s Cup at the Velese Vents building, on display to the public who visit the America’s Cup Park.

Trial events posted for ’07 Pan American Games

US Sailing announced the qualifying regattas to select the sailors who will represent the United States at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Nine trial events, beginning this month and continuing through March 2007, will be hosted across the country in the Laser, Laser Radial and RS:X, and five non-Olympic, open classes — Hobie 16, J/24, Lightning, Snipe and Sunfish.

The Pan American Games Trials events for each sailing class are Hobie 16 in Narragansett, R.I., Sept. 11-15; J/24 in Tampa, Fla., Feb. 18-21; Laser and Laser Radial in Newport, R.I., Oct. 11-15; RS:X Men’s and Women’s in Long Beach, Calif., Oct. 25-29; Snipe in Clearwater, Fla., March 11-13; and the Sunfish in Sayville, N.Y., Sept. 22-24.

The Lightning class will hold a qualifying series of regattas in order to select sailors to compete in the trials.The trials will be held in Annapolis, Md., in October. The exact dates for all the events will be posted at www.ussailing.org .

Georgetown University wins Fowle Trophy

The Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association of North America announced the members of its 2005/2006 ICSA All-America Sailing Team, the College Sailor of the Year, Quantum Female College Sailor of the Year, Sportsman of the Year and the winner of the Leonard M. Fowle Memorial Trophy for the all-around best college team.

The ICSA All-American honors are awarded to competitors who demonstrated outstanding performance in competition during the college sailing year. Their names will be added to the permanent ICSA Hall of Fame display located in the Robert Crown Sailing Center at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.

The ICSA awarded Georgetown University graduating senior Andrew Campbell of San Diego, its Everett B. Morris Trophy in recognition of his selection as the 2006 College Sailor of the Year. Campbell was also named an ICSA All-American for the third year running, capping a remarkable four years of college sailing.

Campbell started the 2005-’06 season by winning the ICSA/Vanguard Men’s Single-handed Championship and becoming the first sailor to have won that title three times. He then turned his efforts to other events on the college sailing circuit, helping Georgetown place second at the ICSA Sloop Championship and the Atlantic Coast Dinghy Championship, and third at the Aaron Szambecki Team Race Regatta. Georgetown was victorious at the Truxtun Umsted Regatta where, in 20 races over two days, Campbell amassed a 57-point lead to win A-Division. At the national championships in Charleston, Georgetown won another title with Campbell at the helm — the ICSA/Layline National Team Race Championship — as the Hoyas built on a 6-0 win-loss record in the first round of the series to eventually earn the No. 1 seed in the final round. Three days later the Hoyas closed the most successful season in school history with a second-place finish at the hotly contested 2006 ICSA/Gill National Coed Dinghy Championship where Campbell won A-Division by 15 points in the final race of his college sailing career.

“I haven’t sailed my Laser since last fall. I would have been cheating my team if I had focused too much on my Olympic campaign,” says Campbell who is the country’s top-ranked sailor in the Laser class, the boat designated as the equipment for the Olympic men’s single-handed event.

Winning a spot on the USA’s 2008 Olympic Sailing Team will now consume all his energy as he immediately starts traveling the globe to train and compete.

The Leonard M. Fowle Memorial Trophy, recognizing the year’s best all-around performance in college sailing, has been awarded to Georgetown University for the first time.

Alana O’Reilly of James Island, S.C., has been named the 2006 Quantum Female College Sailor of the Year, an annual award to the female skipper who has compiled the best overall sailing record for the academic year. The College of Charleston of Charleston, S.C., graduating senior — the school’s first sailor to receive the honor — was also named an ICSA Women’s All-American for the second consecutive year.

Alex Jones of Poulsbo, Wash., a University of Washington graduating senior, is the recipient of the Robert H. Hobbs Trophy as ICSA’s Sportsman of the Year.

Members of the 2005/2006 ICSA/Ronstan All-America Sailing Team also include Chris Behm of Hampton, Va.; Clay Johnson of Toms River, N.J.; Trevor Moore of North Pomfret, Vt.; Russell O’Reilly of Charleston, S.C.; Kevin Reali of St. Petersburg, Fla.; David Siegal of Dartmouth, Mass.; and Erick Storck of Huntington, N.Y.

Members of the ICSA Women All-Americans include Derby Anderson of Annapolis, Md.; Sloan Devlin of Mystic, Conn.; Charlotte Hill of Miami; Emily Hill of Miami; Alana O’Reilly of Charleston, S.C.; and Katie Whitman of Folly Beach, S.C.

Coutts goes to last gust in Bol D’or Rolex Regatta

New Zealand skipper and America’s Cup legend Russell Coutts crossed the finish line of the 68th Geneva Bol d’Or Rolex with line honors.

After some close-contact racing, keeping his crew of amateur doctors on their toes right until the last breath of wind, Coutts narrowly beat Philippe Cardis, Loïck Peyron and Alain Gautier. At the entrance to the ‘petit lac,’ just five miles from the finish, there were still four Decision 35 catamarans in the running for victory.

From La Baule on France’s Atlantic coast, Peyron was the first to come within sight of the line, driving hard down the French side of the lake under gennaker. At that point Coutts and Cardis were on the other side of the lake. Jibe after jibe, from wind pockets to wind holes, the advantage changed every few yards. Rooted to the helm, Coutts remained concentrated to the finish to take victory on the last jibe.

More than 570 vessels with one, two or three hulls set off in mid-June on the 68th Bol d’Or Rolex’s lengthy start line off ‘la nautique,’ spanning right across the western end of Switzerland’s Lake Geneva.

Distance regatta debuts off Conn.

The Mystic River Yacht Club Distance Challenge lived up to its name in mid-June.

This first MRYC regatta started at Seaflower Reef between Fishers Island and Groton Long Point. Three classes ventured 20 miles to the south, five miles past Montauk Point, to a distant Racon RW “MP” in light conditions. The breeze began steady then fell off when the fleet met the north of the fork. As winds filled back in, the yachts barreled back towards Fishers Island and through Wicopesset Passage. Inside Fishers Island Sound the wind left the fleet battling for inches in a building ebb tide. Finally, 9-1/2 hours after the start, enough breeze filled in to finish the 40-mile race.

Winning the Spinnaker Class was John Sutherland on She’s the Boss. Taking the Two-Hander Division was Jim Francis on Free Spirit. Free Spirit was also first in fleet. Winning the Non-Spinnaker class was Mike Cavanaugh on Crystal Slipper.

The Mystic River Yacht Club plans to hold this race again next year, challenging crews in navigation, tactics and boat handling, next time within a 100-mile course.