Midwinters Regatta - March 13, 14, 15 Davis Island Yacht Club, Tampa Florida

Cooler than normal temperatures greeted travelers to the 1998 Midwinters Regatta at Davis Island Yacht Club (Tampa, Florida). As we shivered in our tents with the temperature dipping close to freezing on Thursday night, we wondered what conditions we'd be sailing in on Friday. But the clear sky and strong sun made the coolish air temperature unnoticable, with it gradually warming up into the 70's as the weekend progressed. Unfortunately the cool air meant that the afternoon sea breeze did not develop, and all three days were characterized by nice morning breezes which gradually died off as the day progressed. Playing the shifts and avoiding the holes was crucial to success in these conditions. All races were on a modified Olympic course (triangle + beat then finish to leeward) with the final race of each day being shortened to triangle + beat.

It was a busy weekend for the yacht club with eight Fireballs sharing one course with eight Front Runners, and over a hundred Sunfish racing on a separate course. Henry McCray and Mike Thompson dominated the early racing, with wins in both races Friday and on the first race of Saturday. Then it was Allison Jolly and Mark Elliot's turn to win, with them taking the next two races. The fourth and final race of Saturday ended with an interesting twist - deep in the fleet starting the final beat and with nothing to lose Jolly/Elliot went hard right, banging the corner and were the first to catch a new breeze as it filled in from the shore. This was not quite enough to catch Henry and they finished second in that race. Pat Crump, who had gambled on the left corner instead, sat in a hole as half the fleet sailed past him. Uncharacteristic for the Fireball fleet, there were two protests lodged on Saturday - both against Henry. One was dismissed on a technicality, but the other stuck and Henry was disqualified from race 5. Sunday the Van Tassels took their only win of the weekend (Race 8) and decided to finish on a high note and sailed off to pack up the boat rather than sailing the final race. The regatta win was up for grabs in Race 9 as Jolly/Elliot were within striking distance of McCray/Thompson. The order rounding the leeward mark to start the final beat was Jolly/Elliot, Crump/Wildman, Locker/Locker, Lawrence/Mathews, McCray/Thompson. When McCray and Lawrence split from each other, the Lockers decided to cover Lawrence and let McCray get away. That may have decided the regatta as McCray finished third, one point ahead of Jolly in the overall standings.

Social Notes: newcomers Dan Lawrence and Mark Mathews (USA 14585 Voodoo Child) found themselves officially welcomed to the fleet when they saw their boat bobbing peacefully in the club pool on Sunday morning. Cool comment was "Hey, I must have fixed that leak okay". Pat Crump has retired the "Crump Palace" and showed up in style in a new 18' enclosed trailer that holds the boat and gives him a warm dry place to sleep. Someone should tell him that with the lid up it closely resembles a large mobile recycling bin... (new name: the Crump Dumpster?)

Pos Sail # Home Skipper Crew Pts Individual Races
1 USA13281 Charlston SC Henry McCray Mike Thompson 14 1;1;1;2;(9);1;1;4;3
2 USA14418 Longbeach CA Allison Jolly Mark Elliot 153;3;2;1;1;2;2;(3);1
3 USA11451 Atlanta GA Pat Crump Greg Wildman 24 5;4;3;3;2;(5);3;2;2
4 CAN12362 Ottawa ON Phil Locker Antica Locker 36 4;2;6;4;6;4;6;(6);4
5 USA14585 ? Dan Lawrence Mark Mathews 39 6;6;4;6;3;(6);4;5;5
6 USA14626 Seaford VA Gary Van Tassel IIGary Van Tassel I 41 7;7;5;5;4;7;5;1;(9)
7 CAN13890 Ottawa ON Mike McEvoy Gary Bain 42 2;5;7;7;5;3;7;(7);6
8 CAN1354 Ottawa ON Mike Roper Steph Serre de St Jean 62 8;8;8;8;7;8;8;(8);7

Personal notes: one of the cool experiences of the trip was detouring to Charleston on the trip home to drop off Mark and Allison's boat for Henry to take care of. We toured the shop where Henry is subcontracting to have new all-glass Fireballs built, and saw the molds for the new boats. The shop is owned by BOC racer David Scully, and Scully himself was helping to longboard the hull of a new 52' cat.
Phil