Monday, March 12, 2012

2012 Midwinter Championship - Mike Holt

Never let it be said that St Pete cannot deliver 3 consecutive days of perfect 505 conditions. The Chamber of Commerce went all in for this years’ Midwinter Championship and for those of us who took the challenge and risked going to St Petersburg in February, we were not disappointed.

The plan was to sail out in the gulf off of Pass-a-Grille (a newly acquired satellite YC of St Pete) but with a challenging weather forecast and some logistical pressure from the Yacht Club, Ethan was forced to make the choice of sailing in Tampa Bay from the St Pete YC Sailing Center. I am certain that there were a few of us who questioned this call but in the end it was absolutely perfect……..Those of us who were staying in the rented beach house would all have to admit that launching from the beach might have been a bit challenging on Friday. (Total understatement)

The RC set a beautiful race course and we were able to sail races that were between 45 and 60 minutes. The conditions were mixed throughout the weekend and forced us all to concentrate not just on boat speed but also on the numbers as there were big shifts to be found and capitalized on. Each race saw new leaders near the front at different times……. Ali Meller and Mike Coe with their newly (still in process ) rigged woody were often showing their bow in the lead up the first beat only to have a bobble once they had to go downwind. Charles and Jay Smith hooked into a big righty on Sunday and led the fleet to the top once and did their best to hang on to a top place after the second lap. Jim Englert and Brian Huntsman were still finding the magic in the new boom that Huntsman rigged from a broken M24 mast. (The Jury is still out on that one.) But Jim did comment that at least it didn’t break!

Local St Pete sailor Lin Robson sailing with Paul Von Grey were always in the mix as those of us who don’t spend much time in the Tampa Bay area were always looking at where they were headed in an effort to gain any local knowledge they might be showing. Or at least we could convince ourselves of that! Macy and Parry showed excellent speed throughout the weekend and are on the cusp of jumping into the winners circle in a big event very soon. Henry and Dustin sailing the new version of “The Hoop” have certainly increased their speed with the new Rondar. They are always happy to lend a hand or a beer at the end of the day which puts them on a high pedestal in this fleet.

In the end the usual suspects were finding their way to the lead in most races. Ethan and Chris picked their way to the front with downwind cunning (and a bit of leverage) Augie Diaz and Tommy Fink were always in the mix at the front despite their being at least 50 pounds lighter than the average. (Super flat Bojsen Moller sails anyone?) and Tyler and Geoff were trying to continue their winning ways from the fall.

The Midwinter Championships winner however, was his lordship Master Holt and his faithful super crew (not a seal) Drew Buttner. They sailed with the most consistency throughout the three days and put together a score line that was not to be challenged. A final day swim gave some of us hope that we could overcome them but a last race bullet put the nail in the coffin.

The biggest applause goes to Ethan Bixby and the Staff and RC at St Pete YC for putting on such a fantastic event. A subtle golf clap to Holtie for bringing some west coast weather with him and an even more subtle golf clap to Ted and Doug for not coming as Ted swears he is Midwinters kryptonite!

Link to Photoboat shots

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