Sail Scene Florida & the South April 2007

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Tension and comebacks at Rolex Miami OCR

American sailors won three gold, one silver and two bronze medals at 2007 Rolex Miami Olympic Class Regatta, held Jan. 21 to 27 on South Florida’s Biscayne Bay.

It was a tooth-and-nail day in the finals on Biscayne Bay for medals in 11 Olympic classes. The sun shone brilliantly and the winds blew 8 to 10 knots, providing a perfect wrap-up for the competition, which hosted a record number of sailors — 855 from 49 countries. After five days of fleet racing, medalists were determined in three Paralympic classes. The top 10 overall finishers in the Olympic classes advanced to the single medal race, replicating the new Olympic format that will debut in Qingdao, China, in 2008.

49er sailors Morgan Larson of Capitola, Calif., and Pete Spaulding of Lafayette, Ind., were in bronze-medal position going into the finals and still made the top step of the podium for the gold.

In the Yngling class, playing the numbers game became critical in the battle for gold. Sally Barkow of Nashotah, Wis., who with Carrie Howe of Grosse Pointe, Mich., and Debbie Capozzi of Bayport, N.Y., won gold.

Paralympic sailors in the SKUD-18 class won the U.S.’s third gold medal. The SKUD-18 will make its debut at the 2008 Paralympic Games, where winners Scott Whitman of Brick, N.J., and Julia Dorsett of Boca Raton, Fla., hope to be. Another U.S. team, Karen Mitchell of Deerfield Beach, Fla., and JP Creignou of St. Petersburg, Fla., won the bronze.

In the 470 women’s event, Amanda Clark of Shelter Island, N.Y., and Sarah Mergenthaler of Aberdeen, N.J., finished ninth in the medal race to win the bronze medal.

In Sonars, the Rick Doerr of Clifton, N.J., Tim Angle of Marblehead, Mass., and Bill Donohue of Brick, N.J., won the silver medal.

Floridian gets record in run to Key West

Stars & Stripes, the Custom 60 multihull owned by Steve and Scott Liebel of Bradenton, Fla., broke the multihull race record in the Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race. Reporting maximum boat speed at 32 knots during the race, Stars & Stripes crossed the finish line with an elapsed time of 8 hours, 31 minutes, 4 seconds to take line honors, smashing the old record of 10 hours, 11 minutes established in 2005 by Zephyr.

The 160-nautical mile race, which began Jan. 10, was one of the fastest, with consistent wind of 20-plus knots the entire night. The overall IRC fleet winner, on corrected time, was Decision, the Reichel Pugh 52 owned by Stephen Murray Jr. of New Orleans, which also won the seven-boat IRC A class.

The overall winner in the PHRF fleet, Dreadnought, was one of two entries from the U.S. Naval Academy and skippered by Midshipman Tim Burchett of Annapolis, Md.

“It was a sled ride in perfect conditions for our boat,” Murray says of the quick sprint. “It was close reaching for a very short time, but most of the time it was pure running with a lot of pressure. We saw 20-25 knots for the most part, some 25-30, and a fair bit of sea, probably 6-foot seas and pretty square waves.”

Four boats retired early from the race due to damage: Cheekee Monkee, a Corsair 31 owned by Ron White/Bob Larsten of South Bend, Ind., which capsized about two miles after the start; Double O Seven, a Corsair owned by Lawrence Geller and Brian Broad of Lighthouse Point, Fla., which dismasted off Key Largo; Endorphine 3, owned by John and William Laughlin of Hollywood, Fla., which broke its rudder off Key Largo; and Caraluna, a C&C 9.9 owned by Cai Svenson of Key Biscayne, Fla., which broke its rudder off ofKey Largo. No injuries were reported on any of these boats.