Sailors compete in Palmetto's annual River Regatta

jdeleon@bradenton.comJune 30, 2013 

PALMETTO -- Sailors hit the Manatee River on Saturday morning for a day of competition and good times.

The fifth annual River Regatta 2013, hosted by the Regatta Pointe Marina and the Regatta Pointe Yacht Club, tested sailors with a pursuit race down a 10.7-nautical-mile course.

"Today was wonderful. We had great winds and it was very competitive," Dave Ash said. "We had a lot of great boats out there."

Ash, of Bradenton, came in third place in his class with his sailboat, the Peacemaker.

"I have raced this race many times before," Ash said. "I have yet to win but I'm always in the middle of it."

Thirteen sailboats competed, racing under an overcast sky, making it cool but competitors faced wind gusts of up to 20 mph.

Mauro Harto sailing the Mojo came in first place overall in Saturday's race.

"It was an absolutely fantastic day," Harto said. "The facilities here have been great. It is really a good event."

Harto, who has been sailing for about 30 years, said it was his first time competing although he has wanted to before.

A new, last-minute addition this year was a separate race for young sailors who raced prams and Lasers down the course Saturday afternoon. An Opti, also known as a pram, is an 8-foot-long rectangular boat with a sail, while Lasers are 14-foot high performance boats, featured in the Olympics.

"We ended up having more sailors than the adults," organizer Danny Wiedenhoft said.

The race was broken into four classes: three age classes and a fourth for beginners. The young sailors ranged in ages from 9 to 16.

"It was lots of fun," Katie Freeley, 16, said. "I have been racing for two years."

Freeley, of Bradenton, came in second place overall with her Laser. She began sailing six years ago as part of a summer camp program.

She is an certified instructor at the Sarasota yacht club.

"I hope to do it in college and afterwards for fun," Freeley said.

After the races, sailors celebrated with food and drinks provided by the Riverhouse Reef and Grill as they listened to the music of the Paradigm Band. Awards were also given to the winners during the party, which was open to the public.

Proceeds of the event were to go to the Young Sailors Club.

Jessica De Leon, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter@JDeLeon1012.

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