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Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series St. Petersburg - Overall

by Sarah Renz 20 Feb 2023 05:20 GMT February 17-19, 2023

Twenty-six-year-old skipper Ed Lebens and his teammates on the J/70 Reggae Shark arrived at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club marina this morning with a clear plan for the final day of the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series: to cover their rivals and carefully defend their lead in the ultra-competitive and pro-laden class.

The primary focus was keeping tabs on Bruce Golison's Midlife Crisis, just 14 points behind. "We had a pretty healthy gap so we were really just going to try not to have a shocker and sail our own race," says the young professional sailor from Oyster Bay, New York.

When the wind failed to materialize across Tampa Bay, however, race committees across all four of the race circles pulled the plug and sent all competitors to shore. "We were OK with it," Lebens said.

Onboard with Lebens for the regatta were teammates Malcolm Lamphere, Scott Ewing and US Sailing Team 49er skipper Ian Barrows. Sailing together for the first time in their positions on the boat, they had a decent start to the series with a ninth in the first race, but then logged top-five finishes over the next seven races, a streak that was highlighted by a surprise win in the last race of the day on Friday.

"We got a third in that race, but the two boats that finished in front of us were both UFD [disqualified for starting early], so out of a 50-boat fleet...the odds of that happening is pretty amazing. We were fired up about that and it was a good way to end the first day."

Lebens' summary of his team's success was straightforward: "Clean starts, being conservative and not committing to a side until the top of the beat, and just having fun with my friends."

The same was true for Tom and Mary Bryant on their S2 7.9 Matros. The team from Holland, Michigan, was only beat in one of eight races in the 13-boat fleet, and as the winner of their class they won the S2 7.9 Midwinter title and were later selected as the regatta's overall winner, earning them a berth at the Helly Hansen Sailing World Caribbean Championship in the British Virgin Islands hosted by Sunsail and BVI Tourism.

With Tom on the helm and Mary managing the middle of the boat, this close-knit crew was clearly the fastest on the course all weekend. "Good sails, good crew work and knowing how to tune the boat and sails for the conditions," was Tom Bryant's assessment of his team's win. "I'm not very good in the lighter winds, so the 8 to 15 knots of breeze we had this weekend was fantastic for me and the boat. When we can get out front and get clear air we're faster."

With the low-wind cancellation of races across all 14 classes, Saturday's overall results would stand firm, with skippers Michael Norris and Pete Merrifield winning the L30 and Weta North American championship titles, respectively and Steve Boho's The 300 winning the Melges 24 Midwinter Championship title.

With competitors returning to shore by mid-day, visiting teams got an early start on hauling boats and loading trailers before the regatta's final awards. The majority of the competitor contingent gathered one last time at St. Petersburg Yacht Club to celebrate the winners and toast with celebratory Mount Gay Rum cocktails before dispersing to their next major regatta on the winter calendar, which for some will including the Helly Hansen Sailing World Regatta Series in San Diego in March.

Top Scores:

Buoy Racing Final Results

Flying Dutchman
1st - Sojourner – Lin Robson – 9 points

Contender
1st - Still Hangin’ – Ethan Bixby – 8 points

Lightning
1st - Black River Racing - Jody Lutz - 40 points

Melges 15
1st - Stoutgear.com – Lorie Stout – 15 points

J24
1st - Ice Cube – Michael Quaid – 12 points

Sonar
1st - Fawkes – Kevin Holmberg – 8 points

A Cat – Classic
1st - None – OH Rodgers – 22 points

A Cat – Foiling
1st - The Cross Trainer – Larry Woods – 14 points

Weta (North American Championship)
1st - ACS - Peter Merrifield – 9 points

Waszp
1st - Magic Carpet – Izaak Beekman – 9 points

J70
1st - Reggaeshark – Ed Lebens – 27 points

Melges 24
1st - The 300 – Steve Boho - 13 points

L30 (North American Championship)
1st - Morning Breeze – Michael Norris – 5 points

S2 7.9
1st - Matros – Thomas Bryant – 9 points

Hobie 33
1st - Hoof Hearted – Craig and Deborah Wilusz – 9 points

OCR A
1st - Fireball – Bill & Jackie Baxter – 9 points

ORC B
1st - Peacemaker – Jeff Sampson – 14 points

Distance Race Final Results

PHRF Spinnaker Division
1st – Tack Tick – Michael Siedlecki

PHRF Cruising A
1st – Red Sky – Charles Mixson

PHRF Cruising B
1st – Legacy – Dave Roberts

PHRF Racer Cruiser
1st – Liquid Time – Gail Heausler

Full results available here.

Detailed race information and results are posted on the Sailing World race website: www.sailingworld.com/regatta-series-st-petersburg.

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