The Clearwater Yacht Club hosted the Clearwater Challenge regatta over the weekend of October 28-29. Thirty-five boats competed in this WFPHRF Suncoast Boat of the Year event.
The principal race officer was Past Commodore David Billing who ran the windward/leeward course for the spinnaker and non-spinnaker classes. The senior race officer for the racer cruiser and true cruising classes was Past Commodore Dick Boblenz. Anne Newton was the chief judge.
Saturday's conditions were very exciting with a northwest wind averaging 20 knots with 4-5 foot waves in the Gulf of Mexico. The waves in Clearwater Pass were much bigger and some boats decided to return to harbor when they encountered the breaking waves at the mouth of the Pass.
Once out on the race course the wind was relatively steady and the races could be run with no course changes being necessary. Despite very substantial ground tackle on the race marks, keeping the marks in pace was a problem and the 'M' Flag (mark missing) had to used on both racecourses. Several boats were forced to retire with minor gear failures. Unfortunately, George Cussins, J-105, Fire & Ice was dismasted during the first race, which put him out of the regatta. George and his crew did a great job of recovering the broken rig and were able to return to the harbor without assistance, no easy task in the big waves.
Sunday's conditions were much more moderate with a pleasant 8-10 knot northeasterly breeze with a light chop. The competitors and race committee had a much easier time and the racing was very close. On the windward/leeward course many of the spinnaker boats were overlapped at mark roundings.
Only one protest was filed, but that was withdrawn before being heard.
Pippin (J-105), David Owen, St Francis YC
Wassabi (J-105), Jeff Marks, Clearwater YC
Orangutan (J-105), Bob Glasser, Davis Island YC
Semper Fi (J-29), Ray Mannix, Dunedin Boat Club
Renegade (Carrera 290), Jamie Myers, Davis Island YC
Air Hammer (Wavelength 24), Donald Fretz, St Pete Sailing Association
Mystic (Morgan 27), Jay Myers, Clearwater YC
Tango III (Hunter 28.5), Rafael Paris, Treasure Island YC
Pneumatic Pleasure (Irwin 24), Clement Rambeau, Tampa, FL
Prime Plus (Beneteau 440), Frank Hanna, Crawfordville, FL
Relativity (Beneteau 53), Palmer Hall, St Petersburg YC
Hallelujah (Morgan 45), William Senske, St Petersburg YC
Chances 'R' (Endeavour 35), Tim Roberts, Clearwater YC
Sonja Cate (Catalina 400 mkII), Donald Miller, St Pete Sailing Association
Providence (Soveral 48), Warwick Cahill, Davis Island YC
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