History of the St. Petersburg Sailing Association

This notice was posted at the St. Petersburg Marina on February 9, 1972:

“The St. Petersburg Sailing Association has been formed to encourage participation in the noble art of sailing and to organize such events to further that end.”

It followed a gathering of sailors summoned by Tom MacTaggart.  They had all recently come to St. Petersburg and had been sailing in the “Brush Races” which for various reasons had been discontinued.  The group felt that there was a need for organized fun racing on Tampa Bay in addition to the established racing fleets of the MORC and FORA.  Those involved were Arthur and Donna Berry, Patrick Talbot, Donald Sorenson, Jay Kennedy and Gordon Flaherty and they formed the first volunteer committee.

Instantly there was a response to the notice from interested sailors and races were scheduled for Sunday afternoons.  Twenty-one boats registered and were rated by the Windjammer Rule. There were no dues or entry fees but race results were posted and mailed to participants through the aid of voluntary contributions.  Race Committees were selected and assigned. There were no awards.

August, 1972.  Six months after posting the first notice, three series of races had been successfully completed, 40 boats had participated and 54 were rated and registered.  The time had come for further planning on a more organized basis.  On August 18, 1972, a meeting was held at the Talbot’s house and it was decided that an attorney be consulted to supervise the drafting of a Charter and By-Laws.  Duties were assigned to the following volunteers and they were elected: Commodore, Tom MacTaggart; Vice Commodore, Ronald Carroll; Rear Commodore, Gordon Flaherty; Secretary and Race Scorer, Gwyneth Talbot; Treasurer, Tim Cocoran; Race Chairman, Patrick Talbot; Rating Chairman, Donald Sorenson; Officer At Large, Jay Kennedy.  The Berrys, who had worked so hard for the “cause”, were present but were leaving shortly for Maine.

The first annual dues were set at $5.00 plus a $5.00 initiation fee.  A schedule of races was planned and it was agreed that inexpensive wooden plaques would be awarded to the first three winning skippers who qualified in each series.  Race results were to be mailed immediately after the races.  There would be no protest but the NAYRU Rules would be enforced and any disputes settled by the Race Committee.  There would be no measurer, ratings would be calculated from measurements submitted by the members.  This information was mailed to all those who had been racing during the past six months; for them the major change was a request for dues compensated by a modest reward or winning.  The aim of the Association remained the same-efficiently organized fun racing on Tampa Bay with members supplying data, and sailing by the honor system solely for the pleasure of racing with their families and friends competitively.

December 13, 1972 The St. Petersburg Sailing Association became a non-profit Florida Corporation.  The Officers elected at the August meeting were elected as the first Directors.  The schedule of races continued as planned, one series had been completed and the first SPSA plaques had been presented without ceremony to Rick Anderson, George Dewar and Tim Corcoran.

March 13, 1973 The first Awards Presentation and Pot Luck Supper was initiated by the Burrage Warners and held at their house.  Plaques were presented to Norman Halsey, Joe Silvernail, and Frank Morang.  Awards Presentations continued to be held in members’ homes until the attendance became too large to be kind to our hosts and we moved to larger quarters.

June, 1973 The first Cruise Race to Bahia Beach.  Thirty-five boats raced and Hugh Brown was the winner.

September 5, 1973 The first Annual Meeting was held at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club. Membership grew to 100 and the Association was accepted as a member of the Florida Sailing Association. The SPSA rating rule was established, devised by Don Sorenson from the Windjammer formula; a yearbook was printed; SPSA burgee designed and essential race equipment was purchased.

June, 1974 The Talbot Cup was donated by the Treasure Island Tennis and Yacht Club and won by Ronald Carroll.

October, 1974 First cruise race to Bradenton Yacht Club.  Winners: Ed Rhodes and Dick Ware.

September 3, 1975 Murphy and Nye Trophy donated and presented by Nick Grajirean to Ed Shepard, our first Fleet Champion.

September 8, 1976 SPYC added SPSA-rated division to their Bikini Cup. Carol Johnson was the first winner.

1977-1978 Membership reached 192.  A non-spinnaker class was introduced in the winter. SPYC hosted the first invitational Regatta for SPSA members.

1978-1979 Membership grew to 201.  The Bayboro Trophy was donated by Herman Frietsch for the non-spinnaker Fleet Champion.

1979-1980 Membership increased to 211.  The Cruising Division grew to 80 registered boats and was divided into two divisions.

1980 – 1981 Membership increased to 214.  The first Couples Race sponsored by Competition Sails and the Vice Commodore’s Race were added to the schedule.

1981 – 1982 Membership increased to 242.  The Embree Marine Trophy, overall Cruising Class points winner, was donated by Bill Shakespeare.

1982 – 1983 A husband and wife membership category was introduced.  Mrs. Gordon R. Anderson donated a Perpetual Trophy to SPSA as a memorial to her husband, to be presented to the winner of the Cruising Class in SPYC Invitational.  After 11 years as Race Committee Chairman, Patrick Talbot resigned but remained as Treasurer.

1983 – 1984 A double point 14 n.m. course was added to each series.  Don Sorenson resigned after 14 years on the SPSA board.

1984 – 1985 Two new longer courses were added to the regular series races and the low point scoring system was introduced.

1985 – 1986 Five races cancelled or abandoned because of weather.

1986 – 1987 Summer series dropped as SPSA members were invited to participate in the SPYC Twilight Series.

1987 – 1988 Couples race transformed into an Invitational Race to be held annually.

1988 – 1989 USYRU Club Sportsmanship Trophy awarded to Gwyneth Talbot, Secretary, Co-Founder who retired after 17 years service.  The 2nd Annual Couples Invitational drew 42 entries.

1989 – 1990 Ratings were changed from the SPSA Rating Rule to PHRF.  Fiscal year changed to run from July 1 through June 30. USYRU Club Sportsmanship Trophy awarded to Patrick Talbot, co-founder, who retired after 18 years of service.

1990 – 1991 Saturday evening races introduced.

1991 – 1992 Two races per day format adopted.

1993 – 1994 First TransBay race from St. Petersburg to Apollo Beach held, co-hosted by SPSA and TSS.  SPSA teamed up with USF to hold annual Windship Regatta. Scoring changed to time-on-time.

1994 – 1995 Daily awards introduced as Seasonal Series dropped in favor of Stand Alone Race Days.  Special race day held to test interest in One Design and True Cruisers.  While the wind failed us, the cook out was great!

1995 – 1996 One Design racing added to the series.  Snipe Class participation was outstanding. The Club used special course design that separated offshore from dingys and allowed for multiple races on the same day.  The 3rd Annual TransBay Regatta, changed to benefit the Epilepsy Foundation of WC Florida, drew 31 boats.

1996 – 1997 Vice Commodore’s race became an open invitational to encourage interclub racing. The 4th Annual TransBay Regatta added Davis Island Yacht Club as a sponsor and course changed to finish at DIYC.  A preference for fixed mark courses prevailed amongst the PHRF boats and it was back to the old SPSA courses.  After almost a ten-year absence, the U.S. Sailing Sportsmanship Trophy awarded to Sherry Welch.  A perpetual trophy for the One Design Class donated by longtime SPSA member and active sailor, Frank Venezio.

1997 – 1998. The 5th Annual Epilepsy TransBay Regatta was once again a great success with the finish being moved back to Apollo Beach where the Ramada Inn hosted a wonderful after-race party.  The Vice Commodore’s Race was renamed the Commodore’s Cup and will be an inter-club challenge between SPSA and the Tampa Sailing Squadron.  Upon the passing of Tony Johnson, the Clint Johnson Memorial Trophy was renamed the Clint and Tony Johnson Memorial Trophy.  Long time member Joe Byars passed away but his boat, Eagle, is still being successfully raced by his brother, Walter.  A 25th Anniversary Party for SPSA took place at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club in conjunction with the Annual Membership Meeting.

1998 – 1999 Participation throughout the year was consistently very strong with the offshore boats and One Design (Snipe) Class. Two after-race cookouts, a combination race with USF Windship Regatta, Couple’s Race and TransBay Epilepsy Fdn. race were all well attended and enjoyed.  A photo contest added extra spice to the year’s events.

1999 – 2000 With membership on the rebound, races and cookouts were again well attended and SPSA members continued to distinguish themselves, winning most of the area’s major regattas.  The Epilepsy TransBay Regatta drew a record number of offshore boats.  The Couples Race and the USF Windship Regatta continue to be a hit. And SPSA joined the World Wide Web at stpetesailing.org.

2000 – 2001 Races continued to be well attended with a shift to more participation in the Spinnaker Division.  There were after-race cookouts including one after the Couples Race, which provided opportunity for good camaraderie.  The photo contest discontinued. Race results flyers included advertising for the first time.

2001 – 2002 Davis Island Yacht Club, Tampa Sailing Squadron and SPSA joined together to form the Tampa Bay Yacht Racing Association, which started the “Champions of the Bay” race series, bringing more interest and revenue to our clubs.  The Epilepsy Foundation found they could no longer be part of the TransBay Race which became the final race for the “Champions of the Bay”. The decision was made for SPSA to dispense with the daily awards except for races that had after-race cookouts. Because of more interest in the Spinnaker Class, the Non-Spinnaker Classes were combined into Division A.  The Couples Race and Windship Regatta were again successful and all had a good time.

2002 – 2003 This year was a busy one for SPSA; hosting three regattas for the Tampa Bay Yacht Racing Association (TBYRA), while returning to the old format of the TransBay Race with the help of Tampa Sailing Squadron.  SPSA had another great Couples Race, and we assisted with the Windship Regatta.  We also sponsored the TBYRA Women’s Series.  All the regattas were successful, but left room for improvement.  On top of that we had 13 races that were well attended, and two cook-outs and the introduction of a new Perpetual Trophy Race, the Richard Gahn Memorial Race.

2003 – 2004 Another great year of sailing on beautiful Tampa Bay was enjoyed by an ever-growing number of sailors, their families and friends. This year witnessed the continued growth of the True Cruising Fleet.  While this was initially considered the entry level to sailboat racing, the fleet is showing signs of becoming the “trend” for our future.  There were minor changes made to the (TBYRA) “Tampa Bay Yacht Racing Association” format and rules for competitors. The Association with DIYC and TSS have made the racers of Tampa Bay a formidable competitor in the West Florida PHRF “Boat of the Year” Series and SPSA has been well represented throughout the PHRF series.

2004 – 2005 One of the goals for the 2004-2005 season was to provide some educational opportunities for SPSA members.  We were able to meet that goal with 2 seminars.  The first seminar was given by George and Beth Pennington on September 11th.  The topic was “Race Committee Management”.  Fifteen members participated and notes from the session are posted on our website for future RC reference.  The second seminar was given by Serge Jorgensen on January 8.  Serge talked about the rule changes for 2005-2008 as well as topics requested from some of the 17 attendees.  We decided this year to replace some of our race flags.  Most of them have been in service since 1977!  The blue parts looked purple; the orange, peach; and the red, pink!  The board authorized the purchase of several new flags so race sequences may be a little easier to follow!  In general we had a good year of racing with only one race that could be considered “scary”.  The fun was damped, however by the loss to death of two dear, respected sailing community personalities–Ed Sherman and Larry Fowler.  The water won’t be quite the same again.

2005 – 2006 The season had a slow start with a number of races cancelled due to either no wind, or very high winds.  Fortunately this weather did not continue throughout the series, most races were completed successfully.  SPSA ratings were changed to an average of national PHRF ratings, and the series scoring system was changed to high points without a qualifying number of races.  Race Committee credit became the same number of points as the winning boat in class and division.  Due to lack of participants, the One Design Trophy was converted to a trophy for the True Cruising Class with the agreement of the donor.  One Design Races were kept on the schedule in case interest returned in this class.  George and Beth Pennington taught another race management seminar updating the attendees with some of the current thinking in the field of race management.

2006 – 2007 Although the season had an inauspicious start with the very first race cancelled at the dock due to thunderstorms, only a few other races needed to be abandoned.  One major change made this season was changing the ratings used during our open races (Commodore’s Cup, Rich Gahn, Couples and TransBay) to use the SPSA ratings developed by the Rating Chairman.  Members of other clubs who participate in any of these races will become a member of SPSA for the rest of the season and issued an SPSA rating.

2007 – 2008 Another terrific year of sailing on Tampa Bay, with only a few races cancelled due to weather.  The 21st Annual Couples Race was well attended by 14 boats, sailed in superb weather and followed by an outstanding cookout.  The TransBay Race received an excellent registration of 18 boats but the race was ultimately abandoned due to lack of wind.  A delicious post-race dinner was hosted by Tampa Sailing Squadron.

2008 – 2009 It’s hard to discuss the 2008-2009 season without a mention that the economy was in free fall and there was a fear that activities would suffer.  The year started with a large kickoff dinner at the SPYC co-offered with the Twilight series.  In the end, the membership was up and the dollars appeared.  SPSA returned to the West Coast PHRF ratings standard with little debate from the membership.  As it turned out, all scheduled races were offered except for May where storms and no wind prevailed.  SPSA sailors crewed a winning yacht in the Sol al Sol to Mexico, and lasagna became the food of choice for after-race dinners.  Other highlights included two SPSA boats participating in the December lighted boat parade, and the return of the Windship regatta with USF.  The local Snipe fleet joined the group for one weekend.  Communication with SPSA members moved towards an all online system, but is still in transition with discussions of web sites and email lists.

2009 – 2010 While Florida’s traditionally beautiful sailing weather took a hiatus during the 2009-2010 racing season, instead tormenting racers with below-average freezing temperatures and leaving us shore-bound for many scheduled race dates, SPSA spent the extra time implementing new programs.  The first new addition was a sailing workshop held before the first race of the season in September, where newer sailors were given the opportunity to learn the rules of racing and skilled racers fine-tuned their knowledge with an illustrated presentation by Bruce Bingham.  In January, we held the first annual Good Old Boat regatta and were delighted to host more than 70 boats from all over the southeast.  March brought with it the new Full Moon Pursuit Race as well as the introduction of the updated SPSA webpage.  Despite the challenging conditions of the racing season, three SPSA boats won trophies in the annual WFPHRF Boat of the Year series: Spinnaker A, Grant Dumas on Warrior, Spinnaker B, Ray Mannix on Semper Fi, and Non-spinnaker, Peter Watts on Sazerac.

2010 – 2011 The first club race of the season was premonition of the coming year; a start delay due to lack of wind but a finish with a 40 knot easterly.  The season kicked off with our joint dinner with the SPYC Twilight series and overall membership participation in SPSA events were increased by nearly 50%.  Thanks to the effort and flexibility of our Race Committee there were no club race cancellations.  A huge step forward for SPSA was our club’s website, www.spsa.us, which allows us to post notice of races, sailing instructions, and race results for quick and with easy access by the membership.  Who says you can’t teach old sailors new tricks? Speaking of old, the 2nd Annual Good Old Boat Regatta was a huge success.  We had 53 boats on the starting line, winds of more than 25 knots, and a lively awards party at the St Petersburg Pier. More importantly, the theme for the Good Old Boat regatta was Good Old Boats Support Good Old Folks.  The regatta raised over $1000 for Neighborly Care Network, Inc the organization that provided Meals on Wheels for Pinellas County.  Tampa Bay sailors give back to their community. In March, our Full Moon Pursuit Race was very well received as we all sailed to Big J as a Blue Moon came up over Tampa Bay.  Our growing bond with the University of South Florida, St Petersburg sailors was enhanced by the jointly sponsored Windship regatta in April and the 24th Annual Couples race brought flowers for every boat. SPSA was well represented in the Suncoast Boat of the Year Events with Warrior (Grant Dumas) taking Spin A honors, and Eclipse (Ron Kinney) and Sazerac (Peter Watts) going first and second in the non-spinnaker class.  The season ended with the Tampa Sailing Squadron/SPSA Transbay race that become more of an Odyssey as the wind died at sunset and not a single boat was able to make finish line.  All in all, a great year!

2011 – 2012 We had another great year of SPSA sailing on Tampa Bay.  We set our goal for the year as more races, more participation and more fun.  We were successful! We began the year with our Annual Meeting and Awards Banquet at the SPYC.  It was well attended and we were joined by SPYC Twilight sailors.  The weather cooperated this year and every scheduled race was sailed.  The SPSA website, www.spsa.us, has been up and running well for the past few years. It has allowed us much better communication with our members and be able to be more timely in posting our race results, usually on the same day as the race.  The 3nd Annual Good Old Boat Regatta was our best one yet. We had about 45 boats; the sailing conditions were ideal and the camaraderie was awesome.  Again we lived up to the regatta’s theme “Good Old Boats Support Good Old Folks” and raised over $2000 for Neighborly Care Network, Inc. – the organization that provides Meals on Wheels for Pinellas County.  Our Full Moon Pursuit Race in April turned out to be a race of attrition.  As the full moon came up over Tampa Bay, the wind built to nearly 25 knots – only three of our most intrepid sailors finished the race. We continue our outreach to University of South Florida sailors by the jointly sponsoring the Windship regatta. This year we are offering a special discounted membership to students. The 25th Annual Couples race was well attended.  We had good sailing conditions and nice after race party at the Sailing Center with food catered from Mazzaros.  The season ended with the Tampa Sailing Squadron/SPSA Transbay race.

2012 – 2013 SPSA continues to grow and improve in 2012-13.  We set a goal to reach out to bring more new members in SPSA including folks that want to sail but don’t have boat.  To that end, we developed a place on the SPSA website for captains and crew to contact each other.  This year we offered a student membership and under the guidance of Grant Dumas and Michael Blacker, we had a youth sailing team.  Young sailors were given the opportunity to be the crew and race on large, competitive offshore race boats.  We had a full and successful year of sailing and events.  Our Annual Meeting and Awards Banquet at the SPYC was well attended and we were joined by SPYC Twilight sailors.  We were able to sail most of our series race and all of our special races.  Through the course of the year, we had several cookouts and social gatherings associated with our races.  The Commodore’s Cup, the TransBay Race, and the Full Moon Pursuit Race were well attended.  The 4th Annual Good Old Boat Regatta was a great success.  This charity fund raiser has established itself as one of the premier sailing events on Tampa Bay and attracted sailors from the entire suncoast; 51 boats participated.  Though the race started in a light breeze, the sailing conditions became ideal.  This year the St. Petersburg Yacht Club was a co-host and provided free dockage; after the race sailors gathered on the dock to enjoy great camaraderie. Raymarine was the regatta’s major sponsor.  Again, we lived up to the regatta’s theme “Good Old Boats Supporting Good Old Folks” and raised over $3500 for Neighborly Care Network, Inc. – the organization that provides “Meals on Wheels” for Pinellas County’s elderly residents.  Our last race of the season was the 26th Annual Couples Race. As the year ends, we recommit to our goal to expand our membership and promote the noble art of sailing.

2013 – 2014 We had a full and successful year of sailing and special events.  We were able to sail most of our scheduled series races and all of our special races.  The Commodore’s Cup, the Full Moon Pursuit Race and the Couples Race were well attended.  The SPYC Offshore Youth Sailing Team participated in many of our races.  After most of our series races, we had cookouts and potluck gatherings which served as a great way for our sailors to mingle and share sailing ideas. This year we teamed up with Southwinds Magazine to have a presence at the St. Petersburg Boat Show giving us the opportunity to promote SPSA, the Good Old Boat Regatta and get feedback from the sailing community. We are still seeking ways to get more boats to sail in our events.  We were joined for one race by the Dolphin Cruising Club. We remain committed to increasing our membership and especially focused on folks wanting to sail but don’t have boat.  We refined the “Crew Connection” on the SPSA website for captains and crew to contact each other. The 5th Annual Good Old Boat Regatta was a great success.  This event has established itself as one of the premier regattas in the Tampa Bay area.  A cold Friday night turned into ideal sailing conditions on Saturday.  This year, with special thanks to Gerry Douglas, our sponsors and participating sailors, we raised over $10,500 for Neighborly Care Network, Inc. – the organization that provides “Meals on Wheels” for Pinellas County’s elderly residents. SPSA is proud to facilitate such a generous contribution.  We are also proud that we are keeping sailing vibrant and active in the area.

2014 – 2015 We had many good sailing days.  We were able to sail all of our 2014-15 series races and had many good after race social gatherings. Our special races – Commodore’s Cup, Full Moon Pursuit and the Couples Races – were well attended and fun sailing.  Our club’s signature event, The St. Petersburg Classic Regatta, is a premier regatta in the area and a fund raising event for Meals on Wheels; we were able to raise over $22,000.  As the sailing scene has changed in the past several years, SPSA has worked to remain relevant and continue to promote the “noble art of sailing”.  We conducted a member survey this year to find out how to better suit the goals of our members. We have also embraced technology to help us.  These efforts have paid off – in 2014-15 we had more current members (74) than we have had in 15 years. Using social media and other outreach opportunities as a means to find folks that want to sail, we had 26 new members join SPSA this year.  Our goal is to get people sailing.  We have worked hard to match up crew and skippers.  To that end, we created a Membership Chairman position to reach out to new sailors.  Additionally, we have developed on-line capability for membership, regatta registration, and credit card payments.  Our member survey told us that folks wanted other sailing activities in addition to racing.  Accordingly, we held a sailing rendezvous at “Beer Can Beach” which was well attended and great fun.  We also had a tour of the Catalina Yachts facility. More such events will be part of our schedule.  SPSA remains relevant and committed to “promoting the noble art of sailing”.

2015 – 2016 SPSA enjoyed another successful year of sailing although uncooperative weather allowed us to sail only 11 of our 16 scheduled series races; consequently, fewer than usual boats qualified for perpetual trophies. We hosted gatherings at the sailing center after most of the series races and these socials proved to be popular and well attended by our members and their crews. Many, many thanks go to Tony Barrett and Kim Stininger for facilitating these pot-luck events. Congratulations to several club members who used their sailing skills and expertise to win races outside of SPSA events: Mi Sueño (Ron Kinney) won the Bone Island Race and was first overall in the Race to Key West, Backoff (Tony Barrett) won the Ft. Meyers Race and Hula Girl (Steve Shortt) won the North Sails Cruising Rally at the 2016 NOOD. Mi Sueño, Backoff and Warrior (Grant Dumas) all placed well in the Suncoast Boat of the Year competition. Our special races – Commodore’s Cup, Full Moon Pursuit and the Couples Races – were well attended and provided fun sailing. The St. Petersburg Classic Regatta, our signature event and a premier regatta in the area, started in good sailing conditions but the wind went away and only a few boats completed the course in the allotted time. Despite the lack of wind in our sails, the SPCR netted $17,800 for Meals on Wheels. We send out a big thank you to the sailors and sponsors who every year make this event so successful. This year we had our first sailing poker run; it was a great time and had a good jackpot for winning hands. Using social media and other outreach opportunities as a means to find folks that want to sail, we continued to add new members to SPSA and develop sailing opportunities. Our goal is to get people sailing, and we worked hard to match skippers and crew. Kudos to Suzanne Hooper, who took on the role of Membership Chairman and did yeoman’s work to reach out to new sailors.

2016 – 2017 This season we were able to get in 14 out of our 16 scheduled races.  While the sailing was great, turnout for the races was lighter than the previous year.  The non-spinnaker class was combined with the cruising class due to lack of entries in that class. The Non-Spinnaker class perpetual Bayboro Trophy was retired and the Frank Venezio True Cruising perpetual trophy is now awarded to the winner of the combined class.

We held a second annual poker run which was fun but not very well attended and consequently dropped from the schedule for next year.  The New Year’s pursuit was a hit again, and the Commodore’s Cup, Couple’s Regatta, and Full Moon Pursuit races were fairly well attended.  The club also continued the recent tradition of hosting a post-race Christmas party which has become a favorite.

The St Petersburg Classic Regatta had the lowest turnout since inception but somehow we managed to nearly match last year’s fund raising efforts with $17,615 raised for Meals on Wheels.  In order to encourage a better turnout next year, the regatta is being moved from January to May, which should provide nicer weather and avoid schedule conflicts.

This season marked the return of the Habana race hosted by the St Petersburg Yacht Club and this was well represented by SPSA boats.  Past commodore Tony Barrett placed first in Spin B, followed by members Robert Freeland in second and David Arata with a 2nd place Cruising A finish.  Our club members also performed well in the NOODS, with members Mike Kayusa taking a first place finish for PHRF1, followed by Grant Dumas in second and past commodore Ron Kinney with a first place in the NOOD Cruising Rally. 

On the administrative side, given the notable decline in turnout for events, the board is taking steps to try to increase the fun and participation for next season.  Additionally, a new member registration system using PayPal is being put into place which will have lower credit card processing fees than RegattaTech which we’ve been using. 

2017 – 2018 After a downturn in membership and participation the previous season, the board implemented some changes aimed at turning that trend around.  This ongoing effort resulted in at 22% increase in membership over the prior season.

This was the second season we have appointed a membership chairman and the increase in membership is directly a result of the chair’s effort.

The club hosted several seminars designed to bring in new sailors as well as monthly sunset or moonlight cruises where we took out prospective members.   These events were extremely well attended and directly responsible for a large percentage of the increase in membership over the prior season.

To increase the fun factor, the race format was changed from two shorter races to one longer race, always followed by a post-race party.  There were 8 scheduled race days and we were able to sail 7 of them with improved year over year participation.  We had some incredible turnouts for the parties, most notably for the St Patrick’s Day race and the Christmas party where we filled the sailing center.

Throughout most of the season, we scored the race at the post-race parties and provided the winner of each class with an award for the day, typically a bottle of rum.  Without question this increased attendance at the parties.

To reduce the frustration and encourage newer boats, the club changed from using the PHRF handicap system to the World Sailing International Empirical Handicap (WSIEH) scheme for yachts.  This system provides for handicaps that adjust over time with experience much like golf handicaps.  The system overall met the goals we were after and we gained some valuable experience on how best to implement it.   The board decided to continue to use this system for the 2018-19 season, implementing the lessons learned.

The club added the Ideal 18 one design class to the series which was very well attended with sailors from the St Petersburg Sailing Center.

In light of the current popular trend, all of our regattas used a pursuit style start to make them a bit more fun.  The club plans to continue this for the upcoming season as well.

The Embree Marine Perpetual Trophy for the Spin B fleet champion was retired as the spinnaker division was reduced to a single class under the new handicap system.

The club hosted a summer beach party for members at the Clearwater Community Sailing Center where we sailed Hobie cats and Sunfish followed by a cookout.  

SPSA introduced a new race this season called “King of the Bay” where boats sail a predetermined course and self-report start and finish time to the RC chair.  A rolling set of results is posted, designed to be reminiscent of the old arcade video game high scores.  Each month a new King is crowned.   This hasn’t yet gained much traction or participation, but the club feels that this will increase over time and will likely continue to sponsor it going forward.

The St Petersburg Classic Regatta was postponed until fall 2018 this year due to a lack of pre-registrations.  The board decided to turn the reigns of this regatta over to the SPYC going forward so that our board can focus on continuing to rejuvenate our membership base.

2018 – 2019

The SPSA Series races started with a very light air day with only one boat finishing before the bay, in typical late summer fashion, went completely flat.   One week later the St Petersburg Classic Regatta had glorious wind to the delight of all participants.  This was the last year of the SPSA’s direct involvement in this charity event. which we had run with help from the St Petersburg Yacht Club.  In our last year we raised a record $30,000 for the beneficiary of this event, the Meals on Wheels program of the Neighborly Care Network (NCW).   As we close out our direct involvement, our members and sponsors can be very proud of the $100,000 raised for Meals on Wheels over the 9 years of our stewardship.  While SPSA members will continue to be involved, the St Petersburg Yacht Club will take over running this event in 2019.  This change will provide a long-term benefit to NCW as the facilities available at the Yacht Club will allow this event to continue growing.

Our monthly series races struggled with mostly low wind conditions.  However, our members continued to participate even when the best part of the day was a cold beer at Courigan’s.  Those few races with great wind were well earned.  The Commodore’s Cup and Couples Race, staples of our sailing season, were well attended.  We continued to score races using the International Empirical Handicap (WSIEH) scheme for yachts.  This system continues to evolve, and a few tweaks were incorporated to shore up deficiencies.  The system uses each competitor’s performance over time to continually tighten up competition.  Other handicap systems are based on an average-best-performance level for boats of the same design.

Post-race we continued a practice of awarding the victors of the day with a beverage in a bottle either at a gathering at Courigan’s or one of our themed meals at the Sailing Center.  The themed meals included an Octoberfest dinner, the Christmas Party and its component white elephant gift extravaganza, our chili cook-off and the St Patrick’s Day party.  As an added plus the Annual Dinner and Awards Banquet was infused with a Trivia Contest to ramp up the party atmosphere.  These events would not have been possible or pulled off successfully without the outstanding help and participation of our membership.  

 Our growing membership nearly broke through 100 this year as a result of recruiting boat owners, crew and non-boat owners to join.  Additionally, an active web site, Facebook page and two entry-level sailing seminars, open to the public, were successful in adding to our membership. This effort was spearheaded by the appointment of a Membership Chair position to work with the board.  Because of many new members, our program of connecting skippers looking for crew and sailors looking for a boat became a significant effort.  To facilitate continuation of this membership effort our Bylaws were amended by bumping the Membership Chair up to a board level position.

2019 – 2020

We continued our concerted effort to attract new sailors to the SPSA.  These new members tend to be younger which is a good thing for the longevity of the club.  Back in the 70’s, when our new founded club was getting started, the membership was primarily owners of boats.  As the years rolled by, jet skis and video games hijacked many would be sailors and young people were not entering the ranks of sailboats owners.  As a consequence, the average age of our membership climbed up in synchronous fashion with the age of their boats.  These senior members need young muscles to hoist sails and power winches and new ears for the receipt of sailing wisdom and stories of high adventure on the seas.

Our membership remained near 100 bolstered by membership efforts, included both boat owners and not.  Many of the non-boat owners were already crew or have joined the crew of existing boats.  We increased our social media impact with timely content presented on our web site and Facebook page.  Community out-reach events, namely information meetings held at a local gathering place, also contributed to our growing membership.  The after-race events, themed food fests at the Sailing Center or casual gathering’s at Courigan’s, has fostered our non-boat owners becoming an active part of the club.  This is reflected by 3 of this year’s 8 board members coming from our sailors without boats.

A new board level position was added to focus solely on the communications side of the SPSA.  The Marketing and Mass Communications Chairman will manage our web site and social media platforms.  Having the Secretary continue to cover this growing segment of our club was a bit too much.  The position would become active in the 2020-21 season.  This addition brings the board to 9 positions.

Our beginning of year events, our Annual Meeting, the Classic Regatta and our monthly Saturday Series, were well attended as were our two post-race events, Okoberfest and the Holiday Party.  This last was a big hit having been postponed to follow the New Year’s Pursuit Race.  It was a consensus that the Holiday Party should forever more be held on New Year’s Day.  Additionally, the SPSA began offering one design racing events for members using the Sailing Center’s Sonar fleet.  In March the CORONA virus arrived.  In the remaining months all of our events were cancelled.  Two Saturday Series Race dates, our St Patrick’s Day party and the Couples Regatta were victims of the pandemic.  The remainder of the club activities consisted solely of Zoom meetings to promote social-distancing-sailing and plan our return to normal sailing on the bay.


2020-2021 It was a full year of the corona virus. From the beginning we adapted and did not cancel any event. As a consequence of social distancing, it will be remembered as the year under the tree. The Centennial Oak tree at the east end of Demen’s Landing became our gathering place for the Annual Meeting and all our post-race events. Remarkably it was also another year of growth. By year’s end the membership had climbed over 130, up from the mid- 40s just a few years earlier. We attracted more young sailors, significantly improving our average age. This was a direct result of continuing to encourage new sailors, those without boats, to join the SPSA as crew. It was a good addition, our experienced sailors needed young muscles to trim the sails and our new sailors needed a deck under their feet. The growth can be attributed to the expansion of officers to include a Membership Chairman and the Media and Mass Marketing Chairman. As a direct result participation in the SPSA Series and pursuit races saw a significant increase. Race management saw minor changes. The SPSA Series was split into a Fall and Spring sub series of four race days each with two races targeted each day. The Couples Regatta, a long running event, was supplemented with a Double Handed class to encourage everyone to participate. We also promoted running the King of the Bay event, with the addition of best of the month flags as well as a best of the year flag