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arrived in Clearwater, FL, for the 49er, 49erFX and Nacra17 class World Championships, the first such event to be held in the United States since 2010. The 49er and the women’s 49erFX are the fastest, most exciting class currently in the Olympics, while the Nacra 17 catamarans are similar to the multihull boats being used in the America’s Cup racing and are comprised of a mixed male and female crew. The regatta also doubled as an Olympic qualifier for many countries, and coming so soon after the ISAF World Cup in Miami in January, things were heating up as over 400 sailors representing 35 countries battled it out for the chance to sail for Gold in Rio. Two sailors hoping to make the US Sailing Team were Dale Morris, 26, from Annapolis, MD, and Thomas Barrows, 28, from St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Their nearest rival is Clearwater local Brad Funk, currently in his third Olympic campaign. By the end of the regatta Morris and Barrows were beaten by another of their U.S. rivals, Judge Ryan and Hans Henken, who will be the ones going to Rio. Funk and Burd finished in 50th place. The top of the 49er fleet was dominated by the Kiwis, with the unbeatable pairing of Peter Burling and Blair Tuke taking their fourth world title with a race to spare. These two will be hard to beat come the Olympics, having not lost a 49er regatta since London 2012. This is the first year the 49erFX will be appearing at the Olympics. Essentially the same boat as the 49er but with a smaller sail plan, this all female class gives the ladies a chance to get in on the skiff scene. The gold medal and world title was won by the Spanish pair of Echegoyen and Betanzos. The best-placed U.S. team was Henken and Scutt finishing a respectable 13th—enough to qualify for Rio. Finishing out the regatta were the Nacra 17s. The French team of Besson and Riou took the top spot for this mixed-crew class. The best-placed U.S. team was Gulari and Chafee finishing in 31st place, earning them a spot at the Olympic regatta. The regatta was hosted by the Clearwater Community Sailing Center. As an official US Sailing Olympic and Paralympic training venue with ideal launching facilities, close proximity to major airports and container-shipping facilities, it has become a popular winter training location for many sailors. “Its great to have all these sailors here,” said sailing center program director Rich White. “Everyone has come together to make this happen. St. Pete Yacht Club, Davis Island Yacht Club and Clearwater Yacht Club have all chipped in. With over 400 sailors, 75 coaches and their families, it’s a real plus for the Clearwater community.” The regatta saw a diverse range of weather with an unusually cold front sweeping through at the start, making for some rare chop and large swells off Pier 60 in Clearwater Beach—before lighter conditions during the middle of the regatta when picture-perfect weather arrived in time for the medal races. News & Views for Southern Sailors

Three boats in the Spinnaker class sailing in close quarters in the Conquistador Cup. On the left is Obsession, a Melges 24, which took first in the class. In the center is Us2, an S2 7.9. On the right is Still Crazy, a J/95. Photo by Fran Burstein

23rd Conquistador Cup Regatta, Punta Gorda, FL, Feb. 27-28 By Peter Welch This event on Charlotte Harbor is a collaboration of Punta Gorda Sailing Club and the Royal Order of Ponce de Leon Conquistadors. Their vision was to have 100 boats sailing on the harbor. The number this year was 41, consisting of 33 racers and 8 boats sailing in tribute to a deceased DJ/sailor. The first day had five PHRF format races on each of two race circles. The second day was a pursuit race for all the boats on the same course. The pursuit winner gets the honor of one year’s custody of a Conquistador helmet and their boat pictured on next year’s T-shirt. As in previous years the pursuit win was by mere seconds. On Saturday, five windward/leeward PHRF races were conducted on two race circles in 3- to 15-knot winds with large direction shifts. Racers with long experience on the harbor got caught on the wrong side of a shift. That’s right...don’t go to the lay line too soon! Saturday’s results: In Spinnaker Class, first was Schwarting on Obsession, a Melges 24, followed by Robbins on Soul Shine, an S2 7.9. Non-Spinnaker was taken by Milan on See Ya, an S2 7.9, with Curtis on Morgan, a Morgan 24. Gottschlich on Diva Gorda, a Jeanneau 36, took first in True Cruising, followed by Busher on Serendipity, a Hunter 42. Sunday’s pursuit race was run on an 8.5-mile course that was near windward/leeward. Wind velocity was similar to Saturday’s race minus the big shifts. The most dramatic pursuit was between Morgan, a Morgan 24, that started 6.5 minutes ahead of the S2 7.9 Soul Shine. Morgan had a good lead at the windward mark and the whisker pole had it running like a spin boat downwind. Soul Shine did a good job working through the fleet and passed to take the win by eight seconds. The next cluster was 2.5 minutes behind. SOUTHWINDS

April 2016

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Southwinds April 2016  

A free, printed sailing magazine reporting on sailing in the southeast U.S: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missi...