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14 February 2007, 12:42 pm
2007 Season Kicks Off In St Petersburg
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Sperry Top-Sider St Petersburg NOOD Regatta 2007
St Petersburg, Florida, USA

While most of the country is preparing for a winter storm this week, over 1,500 sailors are headed to Florida, USA for the Sperry Top-Sider National Offshore One Design (N.O.O.D.) Regatta, in St Petersburg.
Scheduled for 16-18 February 16 at host St Petersburg Yacht Club, the regatta's organizers are preparing for 200 teams spread across 19 one design classes. Daily racing will take place on Tampa Bay under the guidance of Principal Race Officer (PRO) Peter 'Luigi' REGGIO (USA), who also is known as the PRO for the America's Cup. The 2006 defending overall champion, John STORCK (USA), will return to J/80 class competition with his Rumor.

The largest class is the Melges 24 with 40 boats set to compete. 'As usual the class is deep in talent this year,' said Reid COLLINS (USA), the US Melges Class Southeast Governor and skipper of Desperate Measures. 'From the South, I'd have to say Bob DOCKERY on Barracuda could be one to watch, while our class president, Scott GREGORY, with pro sailor Scott NIXON as tactician is another. Steve JONES on Sick Puppy came close to winning the regatta last year, so he may be one as well. If I opened this up to outside the South, I definitely would have to add Argyle CAMPBELL on Rock 'N Roll and John POLLARD [(GBR)] on Excellent, both of whom regularly compete at the very top of the class.' The regatta doubles as the first of seven scheduled for the southeast circuit.

The J/109 class will be an interesting fleet to keep track of with five of the seven boats coming straight from Key West Race Week. Three of those boats - Steve TEDESCHI's Tastes Like Chicken, Steve RHYNE's Mojo and Jon HALBERT's Vitesse - finished in the top three, separated by only two points after nine races. 'We will have their hands full trying to repeat our performance in Key West by staying in front of the two Texas boats,' said TEDESCHI. 'John HALBERT is the defending J/109 North American champion and Steve RHYNE is the 2006 Key West champion. Additional competition will come from two competitors: Jose SUAREZ-HOYO's Mariah, who will have the local knowledge to his advantage, and Adrian BEGLEY on Mad Dogs and Englishmen, who could easily get back the speed he exhibited as winner of the Larchmont NOOD this past fall and find himself back on top.'

Back From 2006

Five of the six entries in the Tripp 26 class are returning from 2006, including the class champions on Joe Cool. In the relatively young Viper 640 class, the top two boats to watch are between Kay VAN VALKENBURGH (USA) on Qirq and Justin SCOTT (USA) on Tusker Groovin., Standouts In the young Melges 32 class include Jeff ECKLUND (USA) on STAR and Marty KULLMAN and Mike CARROLL (USA) on New Wave.

One class that has returned every year in St Petersburg is the S2 7.9 class. 'Even though there are only ten boats registered, four or five of them could win,' said Mike ELLIOT (USA), class coordinator and skipper of Instigator.

The 2007 Sperry Top-Sider NOOD Regattas will sail into nine cities in 2007, including Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, New York, San Diego, St Petersburg, Annapolis and Toronto. St Petersburg will kick off the 2007 campaign from 16-18 February.

Dana Paxton (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Action from the Marblehead NOOD:© Michael Lovett
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