Sailing – Florida

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Top skippers and crew duel at Acura Key West

Winning in Key West always brings broad smiles to the faces of skippers and results in much rejoicing among crewmembers.

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This was certainly the case Jan. 19-23 during the Acura Key West 2009, sponsored by Nautica — the weeklong hard-fought 10-race series on the waters off the Conch Republic. Beers were hoisted dockside and hearty handshakes were exchanged.

Italian owner Vincenzo Onorato captured the win in the Farr 40 class aboard Mascalzone Latino after a classic final-day duel with longtime rivals Barking Mad and Joe Fly.

Jeff Ecklund and Star pulled out a tough victory in the Melges 32 class. Other winners included: UKA Racing in the Melges 24 class, largest of the regatta with 33 boats; Vitesse skipper Jon Halbert won the Swan 42 class; Daniel Woolery of Point Richmond, Calif., and the team aboard Soozal captured IRC 2 class; Ran, a TP52 owned by Niklas Zennstrom of Great Britain, won IRC 1, leading from start to finish; Rhumb Punch capped an incredible comeback in Farr 30 class, rallying from fourth place Wednesday to overall victory.

Rosebud/Team DYT win Lauderdale-Key West

Roger Sturgeon’s STP65 Rosebud/ Team DYT took line honors in the 2009 Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race with an elapsed time of 13 hours, 56 minutes, 5 seconds. The crew averaged 11.4 knots.

Rosebud/Team DYT captured victory in the Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race IRC A class, in addition to the line honors and overall winner title.

Organized by SORC Management, which includes members of the Storm Trysail Club and Lauderdale Yacht Club, the 34th annual race started off Jan. 14 in Port Everglades and ran along the Florida Keys with a fleet of 46 boats spread across IRC, PHRF, multihull and one-design classes.

In addition to line honors and overall IRC winner, Rosebud/Team DYT captured a victory in the IRC A class. This race is first on the calendar of the 2009 Gulf Stream Series.

Overall victory in PHRF went to L’Outrage, a Benetau 34 owned by Bruce Gardner of Annapolis, Md. Trevelyan, a Corsair 28cc owned by Richard Stephens of Trumansburg, N.Y., was first in Multihull Class B and First Overall in Multihulls with an elapsed time of 17 hours, 20 minutes, 42 seconds.

Fla. sailors among Athletes of the Year

Two Florida natives were among US Sailing’s 2008 Athletes of the Year for outstanding performance and achievement.

US Sailing’s Olympic Sailing Committee named Olympic gold medalist Anna Tunnicliffe of Plantation, Fla., and Olympic silver medalist Zach Railey of Clearwater, Fla., as Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year, respectively. Paralympic gold medalists Nick Scandone of Fountain Valley, Calif., and Maureen McKinnon-Tucker of Marblehead, Mass., were named the Team of the Year, and Paralympic bronze medalist John Ruf of Pewaukee, Wis., is the Paralympian of the Year.

These winners were all first-time Olympians and Paralympians.

Tunnicliffe, the first American female in 20 years to win Olympic sailing gold, worked her Laser Radial to the last nailbiting race in Qingdao, China. She followed the Sportswoman of the Year honor by earning the 2008 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year title.

Railey surprised the sailing world by winning a silver medal in the Finn class at the Summer Games in China. Going into the regatta, he wasn’t favored to win a medal but sailed a conservative and smart regatta.

Paralympic gold medalist was a great competitor

Paralympic gold medalist Nick Scandone of Fountain Valley, Calif., has died after a long battle with ALS.

Winning the gold medal at the 2008 Paralympic Sailing Regatta was

Scandone, 42, won a gold medal with teammate Maureen McKinnon-Tucker in the SKUD-18 class at the 2008 Paralympic Sailing Regatta in Qingdao, China.

ALS, commonly called “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a debilitating neurodegenerative disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

When Soundings editor William Sisson spoke to him in 2006, Scandone was competing at the Disabled World Championship in Australia and was mounting his bid for the Paralympics in China.

He told Sisson, “[ALS] doesn’t affect the mind at all. That’s the good part. And it can’t touch your soul. You just deal with the cards you’re dealt. … Sometimes things happen for a reason and make you stronger.”

Scandone died Jan. 2.

U.S. Sailing recognizes outstanding coaches

U.S. Sailing’s Olympic Sailing Committee picked three sailing coaches for the 2008 Coaches of the Year awards. Based on nominations from the public, the committee named Betsy Alison of Newport, R.I., as National Coach of the Year; Brett Davis of Naples, Fla., as Developmental Coach of the Year; Carrie Rohde of Richmond Hill, Ga., as Volunteer Coach of the Year.

Davis’ specialty is coaching elite-level youths and Olympic-caliber sailors who are highly motivated. In 2008, Davis was the coach of the Laser and Laser Radial sailors on the 2008 U.S. Youth Worlds Team.

Rohde has made a huge difference to the sport of sailing, making it one of the most popular sports team at Richmond Hill High School in Richmond Hill, Ga.

As coach of the 2008 Paralympic Sailing Team, Alison was the driving force behind the team’s gold and bronze medals at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Qingdao, China.

This article originally appeared in the April 2009 issue.