Saturday, February 15, 2014

Sperry Top-sider St Pete NOOD Preview

J/70 sailing St Petersburg NOOD regatta on Tampa Bay (St Petersburg, FL)- The 2014 Sperry Top-Sider NOOD Regatta series kicks off in sunny St. Petersburg, FL from February 14th to 17th. The fleet of 123 boats is dominated by J/Teams, representing 38% of the participants.  Of the forty-five J’s sailing there are twelve J/24s and twenty-eight J/70s racing one-design, while there are a half-dozen J’s sailing PHRF handicap classes.

The J/70 fleet, now in its second year at St. Pete, boasts the most entries and it’s a J/70 World Championship qualifier for the fleet.  Competitors will duke it out for two open spots for the Worlds in Newport, RI, in September 2014.

For Todd Fedyszyn, St. Petersburg YC’s youth sailing director and head coach, this year’s event will be a change of pace. Having previously raced J/24s at the NOOD, a parent of one of his team member’s offered to loan him a J/70 for the weekend. “It’ll be our first regatta,” says Fedyszyn, “so hopefully we can be competitive with the top of the pack if all goes well.”

J/70 sailor Heather Gregg-EarlThe top of the pack, says Fedyszyn, includes many who are participating in the Quantum J/70 Winter Series at Davis Island YC. “Jud Smith on AFRICA was really fast last month at the first Winter Series regatta,” notes Fedyszyn. “He was almost unbeatable. I think Marty Kullman on TOUCH 2 PLAY will also be one of the top guys. People will always keep their eye on Heather Gregg-Earl and Joe Bardenheier on MUSE. Patrick Wilson had a good first Winter Series event as well sailing STAMPEDE. Mark Ploch’s SUGAR DADDY team is another crew who’s been spending a lot of time on the boat and should be in the front of pack. There are four or five who are going to jump out, who seem to have an extra gear.” Defending St. Pete NOOD J/70 champion Joel Ronning, on CATAPULT, will be also be back, along with Don & Tom Finkle on JUNIOR, Jim Cunningham on LIFTED, Kerry Klingler on MENACE, and Will Welles on RASCAL.

In J/24 world, some teams get a chance to sail St Pete then haul the mail across “Alligator Alley” to sail the J/24 Midwinters at Coral Reef YC in Miami starting the middle of next week! Chief amongst them will be the top local team, Robby Brown from Davis Island YC sailing USA 799.  Robby will have his work cut out for him against a tough group of locals and visitors like Tom Kane on HONEY BADGER SOUTH and Steve Wood on TASMANIAN DEVIL.

In the PHRF handicap arena, the PHRF 1 fleet has George Cussins J/105 FIRE & ICE sailing along with Bill Terry’s well-traveled J/120 TAMPA GIRL.  In PHRF 2, a trio of J/29s are dueling for class supremacy, including the Mui/ Kennalley/ Davies team from Chicago on FAMILY CIRCUS, Ray Mannix on SEMPER FI and Harvey Ford sailing WILDKAT hailing from Tampa Bay.  For more Sperry Top-sider St Pete NOOD sailing information.