History of the St. Petersburg Sailing Association

The Beginnings 1972-73

“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.”

The notice above was posted at the St. Petersburg Marina on February 9, 1972. 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 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 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 and results were posted and mailed to participants. By August, three series of races had been completed, 40 boats had participated and 54 were rated and registered. The time had come for a formal organization. On August 18, 1972, a meeting was held at the Talbot’s house and the drafting of a Charter and By-Laws followed. The following were elected the first officers: 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 also present.

The annual dues were set at $5.00 plus a $5.00 initiation fee. A schedule of races was planned and 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.

On December 13, 1972 the SPSA became a non-profit Florida Corporation. The Officers elected at the August meeting were elected as the first Directors.

On March 13, 1973 the first Awards Presentation was held. Plaques were presented to Norman Halsey, Joe Silvernail, and Frank Morang. In June, the first Cruise Race to Bahia Beach was held. Thirty-five boats raced and Hugh Brown was the winner.

On September 5, 1973 the first Annual Meeting was held at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club.

Membership had grown to 100 and meetings were no longer possible at a member’s home. The Association was accepted to 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.

1974 – 75 The Talbot Cup was donated by the Treasure Island Tennis and Yacht Club and won by Ronald Carroll. The first cruise race to Bradenton Yacht Club was held with winners: Ed Rhodes and Dick Ware. The Murphy and Nye Trophy was presented by Nick Grajirean to Ed Shepard, our first Fleet Champion.

1976 – 77 The St Petersburg Yacht Club added a SPSA-rated division to their Bikini Cup.

Carol Johnson was the first winner.

1977 – 78 A non-spinnaker class was introduced in the winter. The St Petersburg Yacht Club hosted the first invitational Regatta for SPSA members.

1978 – 79 Membership grew to 201. The Bayboro Trophy was donated by Herman Frietsch for the non-spinnaker Fleet Champion.

1979 – 80 The Cruising Division, having grown to 80 registered boats, was divided into two divisions.

1980 – 81 A Couples Race was sponsored by Competition Sails and the Vice Commodore’s Race were added to the schedule.

1981 – 82 Steady growth increased membership to 242. The Embree Marine Trophy, overall Cruising Class points winner, was donated by Bill Shakespeare.

1982 – 83 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 – 84 A double point 14 nm course was added to each series. Don Sorenson resigned after 14 years on the SPSA board.

1984 – 85 Two new longer courses were added to the regular series races and the low point scoring system was introduced

1985 – 86 Five races were cancelled or abandoned because of weather.

1986 – 87 Summer series was discontinued as our members were invited to participate in the St Petersburg Yacht Club Twilight Series.

1987 – 88 The Couples race became an open Invitational Race.

1988 – 89 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 – 90 Ratings were changed from the SPSA Rating Rule to PHRF. The 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 – 91 Saturday evening races introduced. 1991 – 92 Two races per day format adopted. 1993 – 94 The first TransBay Race from St.Petersburg to Apollo Beach was held, co-hosted by SPSA and the Tampa Sailing Squadron. SPSA teamed up with USF to hold annual Windship Regatta. Scoring changed to time-on- time.

1994 – 95 Daily awards were introduced as the Seasonal Series was dropped in favor of stand alone race days.

1995 – 96 One Design racing was added and the Snipe Class participation was outstanding. The Club had separate courses for offshore and dingys facilitated multiple races on the same day for dingys. The 3rd Annual TransBay Regatta, changed to benefit the Epilepsy Foundation of WC Florida, drew 31 boats.

1996 – 97 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 – 98. The 5th Annual Epilepsy TransBay Regatta was moved back to Apollo Beach. The Vice Commodore’s Race was renamed the Commodore’s Cup and was 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. A 25th Anniversary Party for SPSA took place at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club in conjunction with the Annual Membership Meeting.

1998 – 99 Participation throughout the year was consistently very strong with both the offshore boats and One Design Snipe Class.

1999 – 2000 The Epilepsy TransBay Regatta drew a record number of offshore boats. SPSA joined the World Wide Web at stpetesailing.org.

2000 – 01 Races continued to be well attended with a shift to more participation in the Spinnaker Division.

2001 – 02 Davis Island Yacht Club, Tampa Sailing Squadron and SPSA joined together to form the Tampa Bay Yacht Racing Association, to initiate the “Champions of the Bay” race series. With participation growing in the Spinnaker Class, the Non-Spinnaker Classes were combined into Division A.

2002 – 2003 SPSA hosted three regattas for the Tampa Bay Yacht Racing Association. The TransBay Race was reinitiated with the Tampa Sailing Squadron. SPSA sponsored the TBYRA Women’s Series. A new Perpetual Trophy Race, the Richard Gahn Memorial Race as introduced.

2003 – 04 This year was marked with a continued growth of the True Cruising Fleet. There were minor changes made to the Tampa Bay Yacht Racing Association format and rules for competitors. The continued 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 was well represented.

2004 – 05 This year was marked by racing education. George and Beth Pennington held a Race Committee Management seminar. Serge Jorgensen led a 2nd seminar about the rule changes for 2005-2008.

2005 – 06 SPSA ratings were changed to an average of national PHRF ratings. George and Beth Pennington taught another race management seminar.

2006 – 07 The SPSA rating rule developed by Rating Chairman Andrew Cheney was used for all open races. Members of other clubs who participate in any of these races were issued an SPSA rating.

2007 – 08 The 21st Annual Couples Race was well attended by 14 boats. The TransBay Race received an excellent registration of 18 boats but the race was abandoned due to lack of wind. The post-race dinner was hosted by Tampa Sailing Squadron.

2008 – 09 The kickoff dinner at the SPYC was combined with the SPYC’s Twilight Series awards. SPSA returned to the Florida West Coast PHRF ratings standard. Communication with SPSA members moved towards an online system in addition to email lists.

2009 – 10 SPSA initiated the first Good Old Boat Regatta for 20 years old boats. More than 70 boats from all over the southeast participated. A Full Moon Pursuit Race was added to the schedule.

2010 – 11 SPSA launched a website, www.spsa.us, for easy access to race documents and results. The 2nd Annual Good Old Boat Regatta was a huge success and became a dedicated fund raiser for the Pinellas County Meals on Wheels program. We had 53 boats on the starting line, partied afterwards at the Pier and raised over $1000. Our growing bond with the University of South Florida was enhanced by the Windship Regatta in April.

2011 – 12 The weather cooperated this year and every scheduled race was sailed. The SPSA website, www.spsa.us, enabled better communication with our members and the ability to timely post race results. The 3nd Annual Good Old Boat Regatta raised over $2000 for Meals on Wheels.

2012 – 13 SPSA developed a place on the SPSA website for captains and crew to contact each other. A student membership was added and a youth sailing team guided by Grant Dumas and Michael Blacker,. The 4th Annual Good Old Boat Regatta was a great success; 51 boats and $3500 for Meals on Wheels. The St. Petersburg Yacht Club became a co-host providing free dockage and a post race party dock.

2013 – 14 SPSA teamed up with Southwinds Magazine for a presence at the St. Petersburg Boat Show giving us the opportunity to promote SPSA and the Good Old Boat Regatta. We were joined for one race by the Dolphin Cruising Club. 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.

Special thanks to Gerry Douglas, our sponsors and participating sailors, the SPSA raised over $10,500 for Meals on Wheels.

2014 – 15 Our club’s signature event, the St. Petersburg Classic Regatta, has grown to a premier bay area event for Meals on Wheels and raised $10,500. We created a Membership Chairman position to reach out to new sailors and consequently added 26 new members . Membership reached 74, the highest level in 15 years. A sailing rendezvous at Beer Can Island was held.

2015 – 16 Post race gatherings at the Sailing Center proved to be popular and well attended by members and their crews. Many thanks go to Tony Barrett and Kim Stininger for facilitating these pot-luck events. SPSA members showcased their sailing prowess with wins at local 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 NOODs. Mi Sueño, Backoff and Warrior (Grant Dumas) all placed well in the Suncoast Boat of the Year competition. The St. Petersburg Classic Regatta, started with 46 boats in difficult conditions, only a few boats completed the course. Despite the lack of wind the Classic netted over $17,000 for Meals on Wheels.

2016 – 17 Declining numbers lead to merging the non-spinnaker class with the Cruising 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. The St Petersburg Classic Regatta had the lowest turnout since inception but still raised nearly $18,000 for Meals on Wheels. The sailing prowess of the SPSA continued. In the SPYC race to Habana past commodore Tony Barrett placed first in Spin B, followed by members Robert Freeland in second. David Arata took 2nd place Cruising A. In the NOODs, Mike Kayusa took first place in PHRF1 with Grant Dumas in second and past commodore Ron Kinney took first in the Cruising Rally.

2017 – 18 The club hosted seminars as well as sunset and moonlight cruises to bring in new sailors. The race format was changed from two shorter races to one longer race. At post-race party the day’s winners were awarded a bottle of rum. The handicapped system was changed to the World Sailing International Empirical Handicap (WSIEH) scheme for yachts. An Ideal 18 one design class was added to the SPSA Series for members using Sailing Center boats. One day regattas switched to pursuit races. The King of the Bay competition began where boats sail a set course and self-report finish times. Each month a new King is crowned. Classic Regatta was postponed until fall 2018 moving it to the 2018-19 calendar.

2018 – 19 This was the last year the SPSA controlled the Classic Regatta and we raised a record $30,000 for Meals on Wheels. Over 9 years we placed over $100,000 into the coffers of this worthy charity. The St Petersburg Yacht Club will take over running this event with continued support of the SPSA. Post race themed meals included an Octoberfest dinner, the Christmas Party and its component white elephant gift extravaganza, a chili cook-off and a St Patrick’s Day party. The Annual Dinner and Awards Banquet was infused with a trivia contest. Our growing membership nearly broke through 100 as a result of recruiting boat owners, crew and non-boat owners to join. This effort was spearheaded by changing the bylaws promoting the Membership Chair to a board level position.

2019 – 20 The success of the Classic Regatta, now under SPYC control with SPSA assistance, continued with an additional $17,000 raised for Meals on Wheels. In March the CORONA virus arrived. All activities were cancelled.

Two 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. A

Marketing and Mass Communications board level position was added to focus solely on the communications side of the SPSA. The position would become effective in the 2020-21 year. The addition increased the board to 9 members.

2020 – 21 It was a full year of the corona virus. The Classic Regatta continued under difficult logistics and raised $17,000. It was the year under the Centennial Oak tree on Demen’s Landing to mitigate virus spread. Remarkably it was also another year of growth with membership climbed to 132. As a direct result participation in the SPSA Series and pursuit races saw a significant increase. The handicap system was switched back to PHRF. The International Empirical Handicap system was difficult to manage as new boats entered the fleet. The SPSA Series incorporated a Fall and Spring sub-series. The Couples Regatta, a long running event, was supplemented with a Double Handed class to encourage everyone to participate. Best of the month and best of the year trophy flags were added to the King of the Bay event.

2021 – 22 The SPSA celebrated it’s 50th year promoting the noble art of sailing. The Classic Regatta set another record raising $55,000 even though pandemic fears were still prevalent.

We were notable in the bay area for figuring out how to sail even as the pandemic continued. This continued growth was notable in the cruising boat fleet with 18 boats participating in the SPSA Series. An Off the Wall Regatta targeting new racers was held to introduce the excitement of competition to prospective members. The skills of the SPSA sailors continued to be seen around the bay as members continued to participate and haul home the podium awards. Membership continued to grow and reached 140.