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Last Sunday, Dec. 16, was a terrific day to be sailing. While the day couldn't qualify as a true frostbiting day, as the winds were not howling, and there was no rain, sleet or snow, the weather still had a chill in the air and the skippers and their crews came back to land ready to be warmed by a fire in the grill room fireplace and hot chocolate. Winds were between 6-8 knots, shifting throughout the day. Thirteen teams competed in six races and one crew race. This is the highest number of competitors so far this season. Results for the day: 1. #536, Pedro Lorson/Mimi Berry, 2. #514, Ted Toombs/Matt Cornachio, 3. #537, Ralf Steitz/Margaret Fraser, 4. #653, Doug Morea/Jerry Morea, and 5. #531, John Browning/Louise Browning, 6. #511, Stephanie Baas/Dana Schnipper, 7. #538, Greg Corkett/Lynn Kochendorfer, and 8. #121, Fee Mitropoulos, Amelia Amon. Usually this column only reports the top three boats, but the great competition last Sunday warranted listing additional finishes. There was only a two-point spread between 2nd and 3rd place, and another two points between 4th-5th. And there were only two points between the 6th and 7th place, with 8th place coming in just two points behind. With wind all over the map, and such close scores, these competitors really showed their small boat skills. This bodes well for the Annual New Year's Regatta that this year will be sailed on Sunday, December 30 and Tuesday, Jan. 1.

A downwind leg on Dec. 16. #536, Pedro Lorson/Mimi Berry won for the day. There were only two points between second place, #514, Ted Toombs/Matt Cornachio and #537, Ralf Steitz/Margaret Fraser, who ended up third.

Last week's column reported the results of frostbiting for Dec. 2 and 9, but some of the names of the top skippers/crew were unavailable. They have since been tracked down and the results are now complete: For frostbiting on Sunday, Dec. 2: 1. #514, Ted Toombs/Matt Cornachio, 2. #538, Greg Corkett/Lynn Kochendorfer, and 3. #511, Stef Baas/Dana Schnipper. Results for Sunday, Dec. 9: 1. #90, Ralf Steitz/Wilkie Jordan, 2. #514, Ted Toombs/Matt Cornachio, and 3. #536, Pedro Lorson/Mimi Berry.

Most sailors who have been involved with junior sailing programs on Manhasset Bay are familiar with the Optimist pram, a tiny boat that has given joy to kid sailors around the world. These boats first appeared on our bay around the mid-80s, allowing a younger sailor to participate in a summer sailing program. Up to that time, the youngest age to qualify for participation was 10 years, but when the Optimist class appeared, children as young as 8 were eligible. The designer of these little one person, one sail boats, Clark W. Mills, 86, died this past week in Clearwater, FL, and what a contribution he gave to the youngest members of our sport! As with most stories related to sailing, the history of how the Optimist came into being is interesting. Mr. Mills designed the pram for the Clearwater Optimist Club more than half a century ago. It seems that this organization, unable to promote soap box derby racing because Pinellas County lacked the hills for the little homemade cars, decided to embark on a sailing program for youngsters. Familiar with soap box derby racers since childhood, Mr. Mills basically put a sail on a soapbox design to race in the wind. They were about 8 feet long by 4 feet wide, with one sail. The bow and stern were square. His aim was to design a boat that was light, stable and simple -- something a child and parent could build in the garage. The catch: It had to cost less than $50. His first sketches were of skiffs with pointy noses. But every time, the cost of building one was higher than $50. Finally, he cut off the pointy bow and pared the cost to just under $50. Thanks to Mr. Mills'designing expertise and the flat terrain of Pinellas County, FL, youth sailing has grown immeasuarably for our youngest sailors.

On Dec. 10, at 1600 GMT, after 6 hours, 21minutes, 54 seconds at sea, Steve Fossett and his 11-man crew on PlayStation, a 125-foot maxi catamaran, set a new record for the Channel Record Trophy, the 152-nautical mile run between Cowes, England and Dinard, France. It's PlayStation's fifth world record of the year. In averaging 21.68 knots, Fossett and his crew beat the 1997 record set by Tracy Edwards's Royal Sun Alliance by 27 minutes. "We're really glad," said Fossett, "but we had to fight to sail fast enough. The Channel Record Trophy is really demanding, and we needed to find the good winds to keep our speed. At first I was worried because we had to jibe eight times to get out of the Solent. We only averaged 16 knots for the first hour and so spent the rest of the trip catching up to the record. But the mild sea state and average winds of 18 knots meant it worked out well in the end."

It is interesting to note that some of the prize money leaders in the Swedish Match Racing Tour include skippers who have competed on our bay in this year's Knickerbocker Cup. Morten Henriksen, Illbruck Challenge is 4th on the leader board, Ed Baird, Team XL Capital, is 5th, Jes Gram-Hansen, DEN/Team Marienlyst, 6th, James Spithill, 8th. Peter Holmberg, Oracle Racing, who is first in prize money, was here in Port for the 2000 Knickerbocker Cup.

Two women in the news: Dawn Riley, who announced that she would sit out the 2002-3 America's Cup challenge at the 2000 Knickerbocker Cup, has decided to put together a campaign for the America's Cup in five years. Riley has sailed in the America's Cup regatta three times. With the 32nd cup as a target, Riley and K-Yachting hope to develop a generation of talented crewmembers who are able to meet the demands of America's Cup sailing. Riley, who said, and proved, that "if you can dream it, you can do it," will manage the sailing program, which will begin as soon as next year.

Ellen MacArthur won second prize in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards Show. These sports awards are amongst the most prestigious in Britain. A jury compiled a shortlist of six sportsmen and women, and had television viewers vote to decide the final outcome. In a nation dominated by soccer, that Ellen should come second in between two soccer players is testament to the way that her exploits have captured the hearts of the British public. And what is amazing about the final vote is that the 750,000 people voting on the night are predominately non-sailors. Ellen also picked up the special Helen Rollason Award for sports achievement in the same ceremony, in recognition of her efforts in the Vendee Globe race.


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